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September 2007

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Fall TV Preview: Adam Arkin

This is part of our Fall TV Preview in the Sep/Oct 2007 issue.

The actor-turned-director returns to the front of the camera as a convicted white-collar criminal. Not bad work if you can get it.

NBC's new drama Life stars Damian Lewis as a detective who served time in prison for a crime he didn't commit, and Adam Arkin plays his former cellmate Ted Early, who was convicted of insider trading. "I don't think he's villainous in the typical sense of the word. He's addicted to playing with numbers, and he can't resist the temptation to take money that might not be his, not necessarily in order to line his own pockets, but in order to prove that he can do it," Arkin observes. "I would like to play him as a good person with flaws, and I think he will probably be tested again before the series is done."

The script, story and character, including the idea that Early "was someone used to having a certain kind of power that was now having to deal with a lot more humble surroundings," and the opportunity to direct episodes drew Arkin back to acting after a year spent in the director's chair.

"I directed a lot of stuff that I was really proud of. I did two episodes of Grey's Anatomy that turned out really nicely, and episodes of The Riches and Dirt. I made it clear to the producers on Life that I didn't want to give that part of my life up. It's part of my deal."

Arkin has been working on the other side of the camera since he directed an episode of Northern Exposure, followed by four episodes of Chicago Hope, in which he also starred, and subsequent directorial gigs on Ally McBeal, Monk, Boston Legal and most recently, State of Mind. "It's about being engaged in a different kind of way and using more parts of myself," he says.

The Brooklyn, New York-born son of actor Alan Arkin would love to work with his Oscar-winning father again, "but we just haven't found the right thing. We talk about it periodically and every once in a while people send us things," he notes.
Arkin has played Jewish characters over the years, starting with his first regular series role at 18 as Lenny Markowitz in Busting Loose, but wasn't raised as an observant Jew and didn't have a bar mitzvah. He identifies culturally, not religiously. Judaism is "important to me, but not in a religious form," he says, but relates a telling story from his youth.

"In my mid-teens, I said to my grandmother, 'I really don't know what I am.' Without missing a beat, she said. 'Hitler would know exactly what you are.' I was like, 'OK, thank you, Grandma.'"

Life premieres Sep. 26 at 10 PM on NBC.

-- Text by Gerri Miller / Photo by Mitchell Haaseth.

This is part of our Fall TV Preview in the Sep/Oct 2007 issue.
posted by Benyamin | 12:51 PM | Link | |
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