Miami Herald

Sunday, August 30, 1987

Written by Kay Gardella


When Hunter first arrived three seasons ago, the general reaction was that it was just another TV shoot-'em-up, a small-screen Dirty Harry ripoff with a big, rugged ex-football star (Fred Dryer) acting like Clint Eastwood, and a luscious lovely (Stepfanie Kramer) running alongside him to supply bimbo appeal. But this NBC cop show has proven itself far more arresting than critics had predicted and is now in production for its fourth season on the air.

Turns out, too, that the former football player is directing the '87-'88 season kickoff, titled The Jade Woman. Having her onscreen partner calling the shots offscreen too is just fine with Kramer, a.k.a. Sgt. Dee Dee McCall.

"We're good friends," she said in a recent interview. "I really enjoy working with Fred. And when you're working 12- and 14-hour days, it makes it easy when you like each other. I respect him as a man as well as an actor. Fortunately, too, we have a creative, talented crew that's very supportive. Without it, we wouldn't be able to do the show." The show, she said, has changed a great deal since it began in the fall of 1984. In the beginning, according to Kramer, Hunter was an action drama, but now it's a dramatic action show. "The concentration today," she said, "is more on stories. But I'm hoping, with the fall season approaching, there'll be more expansion, more growth. TV is a restrictive environment. Once a structure is found that works, people adhere to it without deviation. It's important to change and expand on what you know that works."

By expansion, does that mean her Dee Dee character and Dryer's Sgt. Rick Hunter will finally

become romantically involved? "Absolutely not," Kramer answered adamantly. "It may be a

fantasy in the minds of viewers, but it's not the basis for the series. The relationship we have on the screen is the core of the show. It's what distinguishes it from other cop shows. Fred and I do whatever we can to enhance it, including ad-libbing back and forth. The basis for the relationship is strong respect and friendship."

What she means by expansion, she explained, "is to have more depth in the story lines, deal with interesting subject matter but not necessarily become issue-oriented and make an effort to progress and develop the characters."

Acting, as well as singing, came naturally for Kramer, ever since her early years in junior high in Los Angeles, where she took every dramatic course she could right on through high school. She continued her studies at the American Academy of Arts/West, where, in a performance of Stephen Sondheim's Company, she was spotted by agents from William Morris. Seven months later, she signed a contract with the giant talent agency. "It was a gradual process for me," she said. "I started out with one-liners, two scenes, six scenes, and finally it brought me to where I am today."