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The New Kid on the ‘Beverly Hills’ Block : Television: As Brenda’s new beau, David Gail is in the running as the next ‘90210’ heartthrob. His goal: To ‘be happy with myself.’

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SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

David Gail has lived in Los Angeles for three years, but to hear the Florida native talk about it, he’s seeing the world around him for the first time.

“I feel like I’m awake now,” he said in a recent interview at his Laurel Canyon apartment. “The people here, everyone has something going. Half of it may be bull, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is excited. I like the energy.”

Such wide-eyed observations might not be expected from a guy like Gail, a 27-year-old former marketing manager who saw plenty of the corporate world before hanging up his suspenders for a shot at show business.

But give a guy a job like the starring role on “Beverly Hills, 90210”--as Brenda’s new boyfriend, no less--and it’s easy to understand the tint of his rose-colored glasses.

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He’s set to join the cast of the popular youth-oriented series Wednesday as rich financial consultant Stuart Carson, and initial tapings have his “90210” bosses grinning.

“He’s very talented, very intelligent and he’s a good-looking guy,” said executive producer Charles Rosin. “You put that combination together (and) it works really well for the intimacy of television.”

Yet Rosin is quick to give Gail credit for being much more than another pretty face:

“David didn’t get cast because he’s a handsome guy; he got cast because he’s a terrific actor.”

Just how terrific remains to be seen. He may very well become a heartthrob extraordinaire on a series that virtually guarantees its cast members a personal fan club and photo spreads in teen magazines.

But he could just as easily find himself off the series after the November ratings sweep, when Stuart and Brenda’s love affair heats up in what Rosin calls a “major episode” that is played in Las Vegas.

Gail himself doesn’t know how far the series will take him, but he isn’t losing sleep over it. Call it rational, call it pessimistic. He’s walked this path before.

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Last year at this time, he had been picked to star in NBC’s twentysomething ensemble series “The Round Table.” With only a few minor acting credits to his name, the jump to prime time was almost too good to be true. Five episodes later, it was canceled.

“It was one of the biggest highs of my life. I was literally in a dream,” he recalled. “It was there one day, and it was gone the next.”

Back to the drawing board, Gail reassessed his self-portrait.

At 25, he had left his family, friends and a 9-to-5 existence in pursuit of an acting dream in L.A. “I wanted to have a creative release, and I wanted it to be the biggest part of my life,” Gail said.

Three years later, acting had become the core of Gail’s life. So when “The Round Table” was canceled, he channeled the frustration into pride about the work he had done.

“It gave me a renewed confidence,” he said of the cancellation. “I felt good about myself, I felt like I had something that people enjoyed watching, and I had something to offer.

“And it gave me a lot of inspiration to continue studying. I had hope that I could actually work in this town.”

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Gail did an HBO movie and guest appearances on “Matlock” and “Murder, She Wrote” before the “90210” audition came his way. Through it all, he’s craved self-satisfaction just as much as meaty roles or accolades.

“In 10 years, I’d like to be able to sit in a room and be happy with myself and not want to put a gun to my head. . . . That’s all that I can expect . . . and that’s a difficult thing: To really respect yourself.”

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