USA Today
January 11, 1990

 Bronson Pinchot, perfecting his cast of crazy characters

By Tom Green - USA Today


CULVER CITY, Calif. - Perfect Strangers has never become a smash hit, but co-star Bronson Pinchot thinks it may not matter in the end.

"It's disappointing," says the 30-year-old comedy actor who thinks ABC's Perfect Strangers will find vindication in syndication.  "On the other hand, it's been a blessing.  The show never achieved cult status, which means I have a freer hand to go out and create characters."

Pinchot, who burst into the public eye as the funny art gallery clerk in Beverly Hills Cop before scoring as the innocent transplanted shepherd Balki on Perfect Strangers, is doing four new characters in Jury Duty: The Comedy (Sunday, 9 p.m. EST/PST), an ABC movie showcasing network stars.

Two of the characters -- a Geraldo Riviera-esque reporter and a sexy concierge -- are important additions to the cast of characters, Pinchot says.  He also plays an accountant and a snaggletoothed woman.

The act of creating new characters for the camera after four comfortable years doing Balki on Perfect Strangers almost paralyzed Pinchot.

"It made me throw up.  It was this psychosomatic throat thing.  I was tied up in the knot.  Maybe I'd found the best character I've ever played in Balki.

"But I would get up bleary-eyed and go in and sit in the makeup chair for two hours and listen to Puccini and then wobble out on the soundstage and it would come out."

Pinchot had tried a bizarre psychic in a feature film comedy before the holidays called Second Sight, but it bombed.

"The movie was sort of a limp movie, but I thought some critic would say there is some funny comedy in this . . .  But they just said it stinks."

He isn't worried that flop will be held against him.  "If I thought my talent had eroded, I would have worried about it."

He plans to finish this season and two more of Perfect Strangers and then seek out his own starring series.  (He's already thought of the title: The Bronson Pinchot Chot.)

"Because I know TV, it would be a shame to throw it away.  I refer to Perfect Strangers as "Comedy College."  It isn't everything I wanted it to be, but it has been very educational."

Meanwhile, Pinchot is happy with the way the series in which he co-stars with Mark Linn-Baker is doing.  He wishes he could be more involved in the creation of the episodes, but he admits he might be better off doing what he's told.

"We've done 90 episodes and you don't want to stay in the kitchen while Mom makes the cookies anymore.  But the fact is, when I'm allowed to fiddle with the batter, sometimes my ideas aren't that great."