Toledo Blade
June 25, 1987

TV's Second Stringers Hoping
For Their Own Success

NEW YORK (AP) -

Rebeca Arthur plays Mary Anne, the wide-eyed ditzy blonde who trades goo-goo eyes with Balki Bartkomous on "Perfect Strangers."  She gave up a budding career as a private investigator to become an actress.

Scott Valentine plays Nick, Mallory's monosyllabic boy friend on "Family Ties."  He was hit by a truck in New York City six years ago and has an artificial hip that leaves him with a slight limp.  He's already shot a pilot for a possible spinoff from "Family Ties."

Arthur and Valentine are among those taken-for-granted players who populate the background on popular network shows.  Both are hoping to parlay their small but choice roles into bigger and better things.

NBC has been talking spinoff with Valentine since last year, after he completed his first season on "Family Ties" in the recurring role of Nick, a Rambo-esque conceptual artist whose potential for joining the family as son-in-law is a recurring nightmare for the Keaton family.

A PILOT, "All the Way Home," was completed, but Herschel Bernardi, who was to have played Nick's grandfather, died.

Valentine, visiting here recently, was hoping to try again with a new premise in which Nick moves back to New York and goes to work in an East Village bookstore run by a wealthy, intellectual older woman.

"Nick moves back to New York to further his art career," Valentine said.  "Which I always thought was interesting, a guy with aspirations of art going to Columbus, O (where the fictional Keatons live.)  That was a little obscure to me."

Valentine said he was headed back to Los Angeles to say yea or nay on the casting of the pilot, a decision that could make or break some struggling colleague's career.

"I'm glad I'm on this side of the table now instead of that side of the table," Valentine said.

A NEW York native, Valentine worked on stage before moving to Los Angeles two years ago.  He said he was amazed at the effect "Family Ties" has had on his career.  He's already done one movie, a campy horror flick called "My Demon Lover."

The new spinoff was not on the NBC schedule, but it could turn up later as a replacement series.  In the meantime, Valentine is slated to appear in 15 of the 22 episodes a year of "Family Ties."

Arthur was supposed to have only one appearance on "Perfect Strangers" but now has a five-year contract.  She plays one of the stewardesses who lives in the same building as Balki and his cousin, Larry.

Arthur, a descendent of the McCoys, as in the Hatfields and the McCoys, left the University of Maryland for the bright lights of New York.

Times were tough, and after a series of odd jobs, she said, she answered a classified ad -- "Wanted: Real-Life 'Charlie's Angels.'"

THE AD was for a detective agency that specialized in missing persons.  The owner of the agency liked to hire actresses for undercover work.

On one assignment, Arthur said, she posed as a high-school student to learn the location of a runaway.

"The worst part was the homework," she said.  "What I'd do was go back to the office and say, 'OK, who's good in algebra?'"

She quit after three years to pursue acting again, landing some guest-starring roles on television and a small part in the movie "About Last Night."

Arthur says she's happy with her supporting role on "Perfect Strangers" for now.

"I realize I could do a lead role in a sitcom," she said.  "But what I'm learning from these two guys (lead actors Bronson Pinchot and Mark Linn-Baker), when the time comes when I do have my own sitcom, I'll be more prepared.  I'll be able to make it a hit.  I know what the formula is now."