Times Leader - Wilkes-Barre, PA
November 11, 1988
says 'Strangers' is just perfect for him
by: Gary Deeb
Bronson Pinchot is the clever young actor
who plays Balki, the lovable European immigrant, every Friday night on the hit
situation-comedy "Perfect Strangers." He's a television star,
but he's nobody's fool.
This column has learned that Pinchot,
amazingly, was the first choice to play Liberace in ABC's biography of that
flamboyant entertainer. Last summer, when the producers of that film
contacted him about the role, he didn't know whether to let out a scream or a
"I told them first of all that I
wasn't interested because I don't really respond to that character,"
Pinchot said. "But more important, let's face it -- everybody would
just fall off their couches laughing. I mean, there's no way I'm gonna
dress up in a mink and do a bunch of sad scenes. It's just not gonna work.
"Can you imagine? You're
breezing through TV Guide and you suddenly see: 'Tonight -- Bronson Pinchot is
Liberace.' I mean, people would lunge for their popcorn, plop themselves
in front of the TV and get ready for a 'Saturday Night Live' send-up.
They'd figured it'd be the funniest thing they're ever likely to see. I
told those people to forget it. Are you kidding? Me as Liberace.
That's really inspired casting, don't you think?" (Editor's note:
Andrew Robinson would play Liberace in that telefilm instead)
Indeed, Pinchot has nothing but rancor in
his heart for television comedy actors who decide to dabble in dramatic acting
in order to demonstrate their versatility.
"I have sympathy for actors like
that, but not very much respect," he told me. "I mean, some of
these folks decide they're gonna do a dramatic role because they've been eating
green beans all week and now they're gonna have pot roast. Most of them
wind up looking very silly. I mean, if somebody came up to me and said,
'Bronson -- how 'bout taking this role? It's about a guy with nose cancer
and at the end of the movie, your nose falls off -- and it's a really great role
and it's on NBC -- and they're the hot network' -- I'd say, 'No! Excuse
me, but absolutely NO!' That's so absurd.
"When I was in college, I was the guy
they came to for all the heavy dramatic parts. I enjoyed doing them and I
think I played them well. But now that I'm known for Balki on 'Perfect
Strangers,' I don't have this great urge to show the audience my
versatility. I mean, I think I show a lot of versatility on 'Perfect
Strangers.' It's not what I call 'Family Ties' comedy, which is basically
just a lot of people talking. Our show gets into behavioral humor.
"You know, it's ridiculous that some
people consider comedy a lesser art form than drama. Not only is comedy
usually more difficult to play, but the audience prefers it -- and so do
I. When I think about which movie I want to go see, I almost always pick a
comedy or a fantasy. Obviously, so does the public.
"I loved the movie 'Ironweed,' but I
felt really miserable for 24 hours afterwards and I sure didn't see a lot of
other people in the theater. But you literally have to fight your way in
to see an Eddie Murphy movie."
As for "Perfect Strangers,"
Pinchot says he and his talented partner, Mark Linn-Baker, aren't especially
crazy over having been switched by ABC to Friday nights, where there are fewer
viewers than on Tuesday or Wednesday.
"But we just do our work and that's
the only thing we have any control over," Pinchot said. "I mean,
there's nothing we can do about it if the network moves us to a new night: it's
out of our hands. That's how it is in showbiz.
"I mean, I hate to sound like some
45-year-old guy with a toupe, but you just do your work. Believe me, just
to have a good job and to be able to act every day -- that to me is the most
fortunate position in the world, so I'm perfectly satisfied. Plus I make a
Gary Deeb is a television writer with
North American Syndicate.