Philadelphia Daily News

Friday, December 16, 1988

Written by Stephanie DuBois


"It works for me," is one of Detective Sgt. Rick Hunter's favorite phrases on "Hunter."

Now in his fifth season as the star of the NBC series (Saturdays at 10 p.m. on Channel 3), Fred Dryer says

he's learned to make the show work for him.

"I use the fact that 'Hunter' is popular and capitalize on that business-wise," says Dryer, who has

his own production company and is developing TV and feature films with partner Larry Kubik.

"The show won't last forever," he continues. "What I want to do is maximize the opportunities

while I'm here, so I can look back on the series and say 'hey look, it was a great opportunity. I

made some inroads, established myself in certain areas.' Now instead of having a job, I have a


The last two years, "Hunter" has steadily risen in the ratings, usually landing in the top 20 TV


"It's funny," says Dryer. "More and more people are starting to tune in the show after four, five

years. The first three years it was like we never existed."

"Hunter" is also in syndication in 88 countries and Dryer says he believes that "when this show is

all said and done I will be a household name."

The former NFL All-Pro (Dryer played with the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Rams

before quitting pro ball in 1981) says his "Hunter" success has gotten "the point across to people

in the business that I just didn't come out of a locker room and get on the show

because I was a bitchin' guy."

He initially studied acting with noted dramatic coach and actress, Nina Foch, but says working on

the series "is like being in training camp. You learn. You find out your techniques, your basis for

being in front of the camera. It's like being paid to go to school."

A couple of years ago. Dryer was intent on being involved in every aspect of the show from

acting and approving scripts to directing and working behind the camera. He found "Hunter" was

soon consuming his whole life. He no longer feels the need to have a finger in every pie. "I

realized if we're going to come back and do this show a fifth, sixth, seventh season, I was going

to have to change," he says. "Instead of standing around making my notes and talking to people

about what they're doing with the shot, I now sit down and keep my mouth shut. I'm pacing

myself more, preserving some of my energy."

Dryer says he still wants to "completely experience the uppermost crust of the business" but he

isn't interested in directing any more "Hunter" episodes. "I'm so worn out by the previous four

years. It's too difficult to be in the show and direct it now."

Dryer likes to experience everything firsthand. "When I have something I want to do, I just go do

it. Sometimes it's to a fault," he admits. "But most of the time, that's a part of my character I like

because I get to things and solve them right away. I want confrontations. I want to find the

answers right away." Dryer says the most important lesson he's carried over from his football days

is "to really study, know what you're doing and know that at any point you can get knocked on

your ass."

He says it was his early success in sports that gave him the seemingly unwavering confidence he

has today.

"I was not self-assured as a child. I probably went through a lot of masking that fact, bullshitting

my way around. But I had a talent for sports and it provided me with a great sense of

self-security. I got approval from the people I was closest to and worked with. We all want

approval, whether it be from our wives, brothers, next door neighbors or bosses." He says his 4

1/2-year-old daughter, Caitlin, (by his former wife, actress Tracy Vaccaro) seems to have already

developed the self-assurance he lacked as a child.

"She's very, very bright. She went right through her twos like she was 30. She's being taught by

her mother and myself that her greatest asset is how she treats and interacts with other people."

Dryer says his daughter "doesn't behave like she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth," and

if he can help it, she never will. "My philosophy has transferred over to her," says Fred, who

believes the secret to happiness "is having problems and being able to solve them.

If you don't have problems, you're not challenged in life. "Several years ago, I used to try to head

off problems. You can do that, but you find you're putting out a lot of little fires and missing the

big ones. Now, I welcome the problems. You find that most rectify themselves over the course of

time, anyway."

It works for me.