WITH AN EYE ON . . . : The travels of young Sean Patrick Flanery continue on cable
If Sean Patrick Flanery ever decided to give up acting, he could probably open up his own travel agency. The star of “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” visited 50 countries in three years, spending as much as a month in some of them.
Although the show, which began on ABC in March, 1992, hasn’t aired since the spring of 1993, production of the ambitious, costly series from George Lucas continued.
“I’ve been basically working on the show nonstop,” says the 28-year-old Flanery from his Hollywood Hills home, where he returned last month after shooting four “Young Indiana Jones” movies for the Family Channel, each budgeted at $3 million. The first, “Young Indiana Jones and the Hollywood Follies,” airs this week.
He readily acknowledges that the series never quite found an audience at the network level. “There are a lot of different reasons I don’t think it worked,” he explains. “It seemed like every week it was on at a different day and time. Also, every story’s so different from the other. It wasn’t very fluid from week to week. One week Indy is with Albert Schweitzer in the Congo and then it’s a love story in London. Then he was meeting Tolstoy in Russia. Each and every story was so brilliant in its own way, but you didn’t have the sameness from week to week.” Audiences know, he adds, “when they tune in to ‘Roseanne,’ they know they’re going to see the living room and just about every character they’ll see. It’s repetitive, but nurturing.”
Despite the show’s commercial failure, it developed enough core fans and critical plaudits for the Family Channel to order four two-hour movies.
“It’s such a quality show,” Flanery says. “It combines history with comedy and drama and action.”
“Each episode was like working on a movie,” Flanery recalls of the George Lucas Ltd. productions. “If it says, ‘Thailand, 1919,’ we filmed it in Thailand. If it said ‘Africa, 1917,’ we shot it in Africa. Each country depicted was shot in the actual country.” Other locations the show ventured to: China, Austria, France, India, Czechoslovakia and Greece.
This week, “The Hollywood Follies” finds Indy meeting Erich Von Stroheim and Irving Thalberg. Three of the four new “Indy” movies cover World War I and the fourth is set circa 1910, with Indy as a boy.
The titles of the upcoming movies are “Young Indiana Jones and the Treasures of the Peacock’s Eye,” “Young Indiana Jones and the Attack of the Hawkmen” and “Young Indiana Jones and Travels With Father.”
Flanery wouldn’t mind working on a feature with some of the directors Lucas brought in to direct: Nicolas Roeg (“Don’t Look Now”), Bille August (“Pelle the Conqueror”) and Terry Jones (“Monty Python’s Life of Brian”).
The winter of 1993 offered Flanery his longest break on the show. In two months he managed to squeeze in two films, the as-yet-unreleased feature “Spirit,” with Diane Ladd, and the already-aired Lifetime movie “Guinevere,” shot in Lithuania, which co-starred Sheryl Lee.
Flanery, a Louisiana native and business grad, decided to be an actor in college. “After graduation, I went to Los Angeles,” he says matter-of-factly. After a year of being a waiter at the Canoga Park TGIF restaurant, he got his first TV movie, which led to three national commercials and eventually “Young Indiana Jones.”
“It’s kept me really busy,” he says in grand understatement. “I did have some holidays off, though. Except last Christmas, I spent my three-week break shooting ‘Frank and Jesse,’ with Rob Lowe and Bill Paxton.” Flanery co-stars as reporter Zachary Murphy.
And now, finally, Flanery seems content to slow things down and hang out at home, which he says has been “a very expensive storage space.” “Basically, I want to stay home for a bit and watch the biscuits rise.”
“Young Indiana Jones and the Hollywood Follies” premieres Saturday at 8 p.m. on the Family Channel.