The lure of a full-season commitment, interesting characters and exotic locales are just some of the reasons such network stars as Lee Horsley (“Paradise,” “Matt Houston”), Lynda Carter (“Wonder Woman”) and Rick Springfield (“General Hospital”) decided to jump on the first-run syndication bandwagon this season.
Though Lee Horsley is excited about his new series “Hawkeye,” the actor acknowledges that he probably would have turned down a syndicated show a few years ago.
“It was still fairly new and not as successful as it is now,” Horsley says. “Now they seem to be doing very well. You get to do 22 episodes on the air, and you make a product to the best of your ability. It affords you the ability to build characters, which is so important to every show on television. You got a guaranteed amount of time to get it off the ground and that’s the attraction to me.”
Horsley was attracted to playing the rugged frontiersman, the same one Daniel Day-Lewis embodied in “The Last of the Mohicans,” because he’s “getting paid to participate in all of my hobbies. I build black-powder muskets. I had my finger on the pulse of the time period, so to speak.”
“Hawkeye” is being produced in a remote forest in Vancouver. “We actually built a fort in a forest where there is no power. Everything that we have to do has to be my generator. I’ve done so many shows where I was a cop and worked nights in some alley in downtown Los Angeles. You feel blessed every morning that you go out and see real eagles flying around.”
“Hawkeye” also stars Lynda Carter as Elizabeth, a proper married woman who enlists Hawkeye’s help to find her husband who has been kidnaped by the Iroquis.
“I know nothing about syndication,” she says. “I love the show. I did it because I love the character.” And she loves the relationship between Elizabeth and Hawkeye. “She is married to an older man, and the truth is there is probably not much passion in her marriage. I think she’s totally in love with Hawkeye--the quality of the human being as well as the fact that he’s a handsome guy, very heroic in his attitude and the way he thinks about things.”
Like Horsley and Carter, Rick Springfield has had a ball working on his new show, “High Tide.” Springfield spent 10 months filming the series in New Zealand.
“I liked the 24-episode commitment,” says Springfield, whose last network series, ABC’s “The Human Target,” was a major disappointment. “I was on hold for a year-and-a-half with that thing. When I finally did the series, they did eight episodes and they dumped it. It was like, ‘What was that all about?’ ”
Newcomer Scott Bairstow, who plays Newt Call on “Lonesome Dove: The Series,” also seems to be having the time of his life on location in Calgary, Alberta. And he isn’t fretting over the fact that the Western series, which is based on Larry McMurtry’s book and two popular CBS miniseries, is resting on his shoulders.
“There is nothing I can’t handle,” he says. “I don’t like it when people go, ‘Do you know how expensive this show is and how big it is?’ I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m an actor. I’m going to do the best I can, no matter if it’s a low-budget independent film or it’s the biggest thing to ever hit the world.’ Art is art. If you don’t put your heart into it, it doesn’t mean a thing.”
And the 24-year-old actor has had no problem transforming himself into a Western hero. “I get into my cowboy duds and I walk into town and walk onto the boardwalk and say, ‘Howdy’ to people. It’s like I’m living it.”
Adrienne-Joi Johnson, though, has mixed feelings about syndication. Johnson stars as a Pittsburgh policewoman in the action-drama “Sirens,” which had a 13-episode run on ABC in 1993; Johnson’s one of three original cast members who joined the syndicated version.
“In my opinion, there are a lot of changes, good and bad (from the network and syndicated version),” says Johnson. “There’s a lot more action. That’s one of the positive changes that whet my appetite to come back to the show.”
The series is a lot sexier. ‘They’re putting more attention on relationships. Our clothes are different.” Like Horsley and Springfield, Johnson was tempted with the prospect of being employed for 10 months. “It was kind of hard to turn down, plus I’m getting to do everything. I’m getting to do the sex, love scenes, action, the emotional dramatic stuff.”
But there are problems. “There are hardly any women, if any, involved in the production. To write a show about three women with no women involved in the production end, you can imagine what we are going through. I don’t know how hard they are working on it, but I have asked them to work on it and work on it fast.”