San Diego Union-Tribune
Tuesday, June 19, 1984
Written by Gus Stevens
Quote: "Dryer tackles TV cop series
FRED DRYER, San Diego State athlete. Fred Dryer, National Football League l4-year veteran and Pro Bowler. Fred Dryer, television bit player. And now, the ultimate for an ambitious actor, Fred Dryer, star of his own TV series.
Dryer, four years after telling NEC he's serious about acting and three years after his final game as a Los Angeles Ram defensive end, will go into autumn not wearing pads but packing a gun as the lead player in "Hunter." His co-star will be an attractive brunette, Stepfanie Kramer, in the hourlong Friday-night police action series.
The towering Dryer, 37, is trimmer than ever at 15 pounds under his playing weight. "Physically, I could still play football," Dryer said the other day. "I'm in good shape. But mentally I couldn't get up for it."
These days Dryer's mind-set is on playing a tough Los Angeles cop in the mold of Clint Eastwood. In fact, Dryer looks, moves and sounds so much like Dirty Harry that the comparison is inescapable. Even the camera angles in "Hunter" appear to emphasize Dryer's Harry-like qualities.
Dryer has worked for his chance. "When I knew I was a year away from retirement with the Rams I came to NBC," Dryer, talkative and as engaging as an old-pro actor, told the TV press in Los Angeles. "I told the network I'd like to be a color man on sports. They said, That's great, but why don't you act? If you're really interested and willing to commit yourself, we'll give you a shot.' I said I was."
Dryer was taken in by Nina Foch, now a busy acting coach, a year before he quit football. He's been studying ever since. "I've learned an interesting thing," Dryer said. "Acting doesn't seem strange to me. Once in a while when I'm tired after a 12-hour day I think it's a tough life. But then I remind myself: Remember, pal, the strain of acting can't compare with the strain of the Eagle
Despite his study and practice in previous TV shows, Dryer's acting does not yet threaten Jack Nicholson. His range of emotion is pretty much from A to B. But he's big, he looks good, he moves well and he makes a very convincing tough cop.
In "Hunter", Dryer is on the streets, a plainclothesman with the winsome and sexy Kramer as his partner. Kramer had a shot at a comedy series last season as one of the girlfriends in "We Got It Made," a bomb of a show that had Teri Copley but little else going for it.
Dryer, who has appeared on television in "The Kid From Nowhere," "Starmaker," "Hart to Hart," "Lou Grant," "Laverne and Shirley," "Cheers" and other shows, is making his theatrical film debut this summer in "Cannonball Run II," with Burt Reynolds. Dryer said he came close to landing the lead in "Cheers."
"I had a shot at the role of Sam," Dryer said. "I was in the final three people tested in front of the network. Ted Danson got the part. William Devane was the other fellow. I would have liked the part."
As it is, Dryer's career isn't exactly languishing. He's busier than a good many Hollywood old pros are. He's a semi-hot property who will continue to get his shots, even if "Hunter" doesn't make it past its first season. (Few NBC shows are havens.)
Whatever his ultimate future, these days Dryer is very much into law enforcement, morality and the criminal mind. In fact, he's talking like a cross between Dirty Harry and the Duke as he gears up for his violent show. Listen:
"Sure, I'm concerned about the consequences of TV violence. It's up to the parents to discipline their family. You present life to your kids. You're their role model. You decide what they see. Being a good parent requires common sense."
"Hunter' is not a graphic, violent TV show. Guys get shot, but it's not graphic. But when I see a guy in a bank with a shotgun I don't try to wing him and then read him his Miranda rights. I just blow his head off. I believe in death the penalty for some criminals. These days so many wind up in the nut house instead of in prison. If you're in the nut house all you have to do is give them the
right answers and you'll get out. That's how the system works. Certain people should just plain be put in jail."
That's our Freddy, the kid from San Diego State by way of Hawthorne. Stand by for a new enforcer."