"The Record"

March 3, 1985

Written by Jerry Buck


FRED DRYER, THE FORMER ALL-PRO football defensive end, will get another chance to score in his first major role as the star of NBC's "Hunter."

The detective show, which made its debut in the fall, was yanked because of poor ratings.  But it's due to return this month for one last chance before it's sent to the showers.  On this day, Dryer's long, lean frame is jackknifed under a table at a little coffee shop that offers various breakfast dishes, but

he isn't buying. He has his own plastic-covered dish of specially prepared rice and grain.

The athlete-turned-actor explains that he even has a game plan about eating.  "It's funny but people pay more attention to their shoes and socks than to what they put in their stomachs," he says.

Dryer saw action in 14 seasons in the National Football League, playing for the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Rams. He was released by the Rams in 1981.

"I knew what I was going to do when that time came, 10 years ago," he says.  "But I didn't actually act upon it until about six years ago.  I started going to acting classes.  I found something I really liked doing.

I found something I could commit all of myself to, as in football, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

"I studied with Nina Foch, whom I'm still studying with.  I wanted to learn to organize and harness a technique.  I wanted to learn how to break down a script."

Dryer made his first screen appearance while still on the Rams.  He had a speaking part in "Prime Time" and was in "Gus."  They weren't much, but they got him his Screen Actors Guild card.

He had small roles on a number of television shows, but the turning point was "Starmaker."  He played Melanie Griffith's stepfather, who becomes jealous of Rock Hudson's desire to turn her into a star.

"I did good work in Starmaker" and got a lot of positive feedback," he says.  "I'm one of those people who will work harder if you compliment and encourage him."

Dryer came to "Hunter" by first playing a bad guy in the pilot of an unsuccessful show called "The Rousters," made by the same producers.

Dryer says he is pleased with the concept of "Hunter," which allies him with a beautiful partner played by Stepfanie Kramer.  She's in as much hot water with the brass as he is.  The captain would like to get rid of them but can't.

"I associate with this Hunter guy," Dryer says.  "I look at it and make my choices about what I want him to be.  So he becomes me.  I try to make him believable, likable.  You try to make it where he's a guy who's trying to do his job with all these things facing him, the car, the law, the bureaucracy."

As for violence, Dryer says, "You make a show about a man who takes the law into his own hands, and, when he does, people complain about it.

You have to believe in him, trust him or go along with him, or turn the show off.

"It's a violent show because it was meant to be that way.  For my money, it's not violent enough.  The violence is only implied.  Guns are waved around; there's a car chase.  A lot is left to the imagination.  If you don't like it, please turn it off."