Times-News, Hendersonville, NC
August 16, 1986
Sounds Perfect for 'Strangers'
HOLLYWOOD -- Balki is a
scamp, an impish immigrant who delighted enough viewers last
spring during a trial run of "Perfect Strangers" to
warrant a Wednesday night 8 p.m. spot on the ABC fall lineup.
Strangers," with two Yale boys, Bronson Pinchot and Mark
Linn-Baker, playing cousins in another version of "The Odd
Couple," too a few weeks to unwind -- until the Yalies
turned forced material into playful stuff. The kids are
just getting the hang of it, so "Perfect Strangers"
could be fun in October.
Best of all, the show
tells us that ABC is growing up. Instead of macho heroes
copying the wooden bit, the network swipes from
"Moonlighting," toying with humor instead of guns and
How else do you explain
Bronson Pinchot's immigrant Balki who descends on Cousin Larry
in America? It's like making Andy Kaufman the lead in
Pinchot, an irreverent kid
with brains and a taste for Greece and ancient furniture, caught
the eye of show co-producer Tom Miller while playing the haughty
art gallery clerk in the movie Beverly Hills Cop.
Snotty art fellows in
movies seldom jump into show leads, but Pinchot happens to be a
Holden Caulfield type, half-boy, half-man, with deviltry about
to pop out. He just attracts attention.
Miller and partner Robert
Boyett wanted a pliable imp to bounce off orderly Larry (Mark
Linn-Baker). A few minutes with Pinchot was enough.
First, let's go back to
South Pasadena Junior High School where young Bronson played the
smart aleck. He got straight A's, yet was always standing
outside for offending teachers. One irked soul called Mrs.
Pinchot and said, "We're going to nip this in the
bud." The bud continued to bloom.
In the high school where
William Holden was told by his chemistry teacher he "would
never amount to a hill of beans," Pinchot drew and skipped
"I stayed home, read,
and sent papers in with my sister. Class was boring,"
he recalls. He graduated with honors, had scholarships to
Dartmouth, Yale, Cal-Berkeley and Reed. Bronson preferred
nearby Art Center so he could be a painter. Mom and high
school art teacher thought this a waste of scholarship, and
packed the boy off to Yale.
"Yale was like
opening up an artichoke for me," says Bronson
gratefully. Mom was right.
A year ago last March,
Bronson and Mark sat with "Perfect Strangers"
producers discussing character. Since he had returned from
Greece, "a beloved place . . . the people are so
warm," Bronson suggested a Greek character.
Call him Apollo.
Out. Producers liked Zev. Then Pinchot offered Balki.
His sister used to tease his brother about a cat she called
Balcony, or Balki. Everybody bought Balki.
"We cut the Greek
identity so we wouldn't offend anyone," Bronson
continues. "My accent on the show comes from about 40
percent 'Beverly Hills Cop,' 20 percent Greek, 10 percent
Romanian, 20 percent I make up, 10 percent Italian. I love
accents. I can do any if I hear it. Except a Dublin
accent. That took weeks."
Ivy Leaguer Pinchot still
draws and travels to Greece. He thanks Mom and Yale for
opening up the world. "Acting," he says.
"Why it's like someone pouring hot caramel over your
head. It's delicious. And fun. Some day I want
to do a one man show about a person who never lived."