Sunday, June 22, 1986

Written by David Walstad



Stepfanie Kramer is in a cheerful, lighthearted mood as she takes her late afternoon lunch break.  She has exactly 60 minutes before the cameras roll again on her NBC series, Hunter, but until she's called back to action there is something less demanding, although equally important, that requires her attention.

"Hi, Maggie," the actress calls out as she enters her dressing room trailer. Maggie, it turns out, is the playful and affectionate American Staffordshire terrier that Kramer adopted one day at the beach.  The two have been inseparable since their meeting, with Maggie never missing a day on her mistress' job.

The setting for the day's work contains not a hint of Hollywood glamour.

Hunter is produced by Stephen J. Cannell, who eschews the high overhead of renting studio sound stages in favor of shooting his numerous series (The A Team, Riptide, etc.) on locations all over the Los Angeles area and in warehouses he rents in Culver City.

Culver City is where Kramer's trailer is parked on this particular day, when a sudden lurch almost sends her plate of steamed vegetables and rice flying.  "I feel like I'm on a train," she says as the trailer is towed to another section of the warehouse complex.  "It's very disconcerting to sit in here and watch the world go by."

Disconcerting or not, the trailer is not an unpleasant place for Kramer to spend her shooting breaks each day. Maggie is always there, waiting for a pat on the head and a scratch, and there are at least a dozen off-the-wall toys. Some of Kramer's favorites are a hat shaped like a fist, a Gumby doll and a plastic laser gun.

"Is this the stupidest stuff you've ever seen?"  Kramer says with a laugh while displaying the collection, "I love this junk.  It sure helps break up the monotony at work."

The boredom comes not during the numerous action sequences that Kramer, as detective Dee Dee McCall, films for each week's episode (during the 1985-86 season, the character was abducted, raped and beaten), but during the endless periods of waiting while the crew sets up shots, or when Fred Dryer, who plays the title role, is busy with solo scenes.  "Fred and I get along so well.  I feel very fortunate to have him as a friend," Kramer says of the football

player-turned-actor. "Just knowing that I'm going to be with someone who is likable and fun makes coming to work - despite the long hours - a pleasant experience every single day."

Two-character 60-minute dramas like Hunter are the backbreakers of television.  Filming averages 12 hours a day and often goes longer, leaving little time for a life away from the set.

"It's depleting.  I go home, take a shower, get my eight hours sleep - I get that, no matter what! - go to work, go home, take a shower… ," she says. "My life centers around this trailer and Maggie."  The 29-year-old Kramer does date, of course, but there is no one steady man in her life.  "I'm very selective," she concedes.  "For a man to appeal to me, he has to be intelligent and have a

terrific sense of humor.  He has to be very assured and happy with who he is.  I know what I want and why I want it, and I'm only interested in men who feel the same way about life."  Two men who meet those requirements as friends are Dryer and Kramer's older brother, Wes, a screenwriter.  "Wes and I are only 10 1/2 months apart in age and we have always been very close," Kramer says. By her own admission, Kramer is no fragile doll.  She can take care of herself, professionally and personally, in any way that's necessary.  And she doesn't mind at all if that sounds just a little too much like her TV persona, a character known to her fellow officers as "the brass cupcake."  As a single woman living alone, for instance, she had no hesitation about purchasing a gun and learning how to use it.

"There are people who publish lists of where the stars live.  It's a real pain in the butt and a terrible intrusion," Kramer says.  "And a little scary, too.  I don't want to wake up one night and have to shoot somebody standing in my living room.  But if it happens, I'm prepared." Kramer was born and raised in Los Angeles.  Her father, a first violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, died when she was 12, but he instilled a deep love of music in his only daughter.  She began doing musicals in high school and went on to appear in scores of regional theater productions.

Delving into country music, she briefly fronted her own band, which played at several Los Angeles night spots, including the nationally known Palomino Club. Simultaneously, she was building her acting credits with recurring roles on Knots Landing, Dynasty and Trapper John, M.D., and a starring role in the short-lived series We Got It Made.

"They try to incorporate my singing into the show whenever they can," she says, describing her post-country style as aggressive and high-tech. "I appreciate the opportunity to sing.  It's something I love to do." The positive response to those occasional episodes, plus her performance in September in NBC's fall preview special, has led to Kramer's collaboration with producer/composer Mike Post, who does the music for all of the Cannell series. They will soon

be working on a demo, which they hope will lead to a recording contract for Kramer.

"Now if we could just convince Bruce Springsteen to guest-star on the show," Kramer says, "I'd be one really happy gal."

(End of quote)