The Free Lance-Star
August 2, 1986

Mark Linn-Baker is No Snob About TV
By Ian Harmer

HOLLYWOOD -- Mark Linn-Baker jokes that he needs his new ABC sitcom "Perfect Strangers" to wind up a ratings hit to help him pay for an expensive habit.

He doesn't have anything illegal, embarrassing or fattening in mind: Linn-Baker is cheerfully hooked on stage acting.  He discovered long ago that compared to their counterparts on TV, Broadway actors take home slave wages.

Linn-Baker first caught Hollywood's eye when he was cast as Peter O'Toole's chaperone in the feature film, "My Favorite Year," and when movie studios didn't swamp him with offers, he was very happy to take a shot at TV.

"I've been lucky enough to get guest roles in critical hits -- shows like 'Miami Vice,' 'Moonlighting' and 'The Equalizer' -- but I'm no snob about TV.  There's a lot of good work being done for the tube, and ABC has given us six chances to show that 'Strangers' is better than average.

"I certainly don't think of myself as being poised on the brink of stardom," he says.  "If we're a hit and the network brings us back in the fall, I'll be pleased because after spending most of my career so far in the theater, I'm excited at the prospect of a regular paycheck."

"But actors learn pretty fast not to get their hopes up too high," he says.  "'My Favorite Year' gave me a wonderful role and I'm very proud of it.  But although it's become almost a cult classic, it wasn't a huge box-office hit, and in this business, that's all that matters."

"Perfect Strangers" teams Linn-Baker with Bronson Pinchot.  The show has been greeted by some critics as a thinly-disguised amalgam of "The Odd Couple," "Bosom Buddies" and "Moscow on the Hudson."

Pinchot and Linn-Baker are, in fact, the perfect team: They are both Yale graduates, and both are looking to the new sitcom to consolidate the impact they made in feature films.  Pinchot managed to upstage Eddie Murphy in "Beverly Hills Cop," but, like Linn-Baker, he wasn't deluged with scripts as a result.

"One good movie role can, in fact, be almost a handicap," he says.  "People get the idea that whatever you did to make an impression is all you can do.

"That's why TV appeals to me," he says.  "It gives you more exposure."