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Travis filming "Matlock' episode

Anyone who knows much about Randy Travis and his shy country ways will not be surprised to find that one of his favorite television shows was The Andy Griffith Show.

Travis, one of the biggest names in country music, has that Mayberry way about him. He is careful with his "Yes, sirs" and "No, ma'ams." It wouldn't be hard to visualize Randy and Andy headed for the fishin' hole together.

After all, both are from North Carolina.

Travis was born in Marshville, 30 miles outside of Charlotte. Mayberry is, well, just about anywhere you want it to be.

"I used to watch all his shows," Travis says of Griffith. "Just listening to him now reminds me of the old program."

The two men met not long ago when they came together for a television show honoring the troops returning from Operation Desert Storm. Lib Hatcher, Randy's wife and business manager, told Griffith that Randy loved his Matlock programs and would like to be a guest on one of them.

"She just walked up to him and told him," Travis said. "He said okay, he would remember that. And when she offered him a business card he said he didn't need one, he would remember."

He did.

Last week, Travis began rehearsals for a Matlock episode that is scheduled to air Feb. 28.

In it, Travis plays the part of a house painter looking for work. Ben Matlock hires him, but it turns out that Travis isn't much with a bucket of paint and a wet brush.

"This is really a treat," Travis says. "It's hard to believe that I'm actually working with Andy Griffith. I'm learning a lot."

This isn't Travis' first encounter with series television. A couple of seasons ago he was a guest on Down Home, a short-lived series about a Texas Gulf Coast family and their cafe-bait shop.

But in that program, Travis played himself. He was just passing through town, and the locals went goofy with delight.

In Matlock, Travis is playing a character. He has about six pages of dialogue, he says, and he's working to get the character down.

"Actually, the hardest part of acting to me," he says, "is trying to act like you're not acting. Trying to act naturally."

That shouldn't be too difficult because Travis says his Matlock character is "pretty much me _ a lot like me."

Aside from his Down Home appearance, Travis, like most country music artists, has been busy with a series of videos to accompany his releases. The latest is A Better Class of Loser, rated as the No. 2 favorite video on Country Music Television.

The videos, and the live stage performances, aren't that different from acting in front of a camera, Travis says. There is even an upcoming special slated for The Nashville Network that looks behind the scenes of a country music concert, and it has a script just as movie.

He enjoys the work and says, "I'd like to do a lot more of it."

He does get offers. Lots of them. But most of the scripts he's read so far cast him in a leading role and that's too big a step to take right now.

"They all want me to be the main character, and I'm kind of afraid of that," Travis says. "If I did it, and it turned out to be a flop, I wouldn't like that very much."