The Record (from New Jersey)

Friday, April 7, 1989

Written by Vernon Scott

Quote: "HOW A JOCK MASTERED THE TV BUSINESS

After taking aim at quarterbacks and criminals, Fred Dryer, star of TV's "Hunter" series and a

former defensive end for the Los Angeles Rams, has set his sights on a movie career.

Dryer has two more years to go as the maverick Los Angeles police detective Rick Hunter before

he can address himself to films, but he's already buying movie properties for development.

"Hunter" has surprised industry observers in its five years on the air by moving slowly up the

ratings ladder, in contrast to most shows, which start strong and then sink into oblivion.

Dryer is equally unusual. Most athletes experience difficulty moving from jock biz to show biz,

but the tall, muscular Dryer not only has mastered acting, but has become a force in other areas.

In addition to starring in his series, Dryer directs occasional episodes and looks forward to the

day, when he will produce his own TV movies and features.

As "Hunter's" audience has continued to grow, so has Dryer's contribution to the series.

"In the past four years I've exerted more influence on the writing," he said. "Next year I will begin

co-producing the show. We've done 105 episodes so far and I can see improvement week to

week. "I had no creative input for the first 13 shows. After that, I told them I would keep the

meaning of scenes, but I'd be putting everything into my own words. From then on, I restructured

and changed the course of the series. "I have met the enemy and it ain't me."

Dryer said that after watching directors and producers at work, he realized "there is no great

mystery involved."

"I took notes and found answers to all my questions," he said. "I found out why things happen on

the production end. When I was satisfied I knew the answers, I asked to direct. They gulped and

gave me a script." Dryer's take-charge attitude surprised producers, agents, writers, and directors.

They discovered they weren't dealing with just another dumb jock.

"I don't know what they were thinking, but I saw what they did and I understand their

motivations," he said. "Everything I've done has been for the betterment of the show".

"I didn't ask for limousines or a better dressing room. I asked them to improve the lighting, the

directing, get better actors and actresses, better locations, and tighter scripts."

"We were getting scripts late. They were writing them as we shot the shows. So I asked for time

off to give us time to work properly. I was worn out." He said it took about a year to learn the

ropes. "Nobody told me anything, but I asked a lot of questions," he said. Today, Dryer has script

approval and he is consulted about guest stars on key shows, especially the two- and three-part

stories. Dryer, in contrast to many TV actors, cares passionately about his show. He does what

he thinks is necessary to make the series work. "Listen," he said, "there are some actors who just

show up and let other people do the worrying. They don't take the job home with them. But I

look on this show as an opportunity to learn."

"What I want to do is produce movies as soon as I can. I want this show to work for me and my

partner [Larry Kubik], and this is a perfect opportunity to do that."

"After 100 hours of TV, people in the business can see what my taste is, what my decisions are,

and what direction I'm moving in. I don't make stupid mistakes."

"We'll be here for two more years. But during that time we're working on feature films."

Because Dryer has been devoting most of his free time to improving "Hunter," he has been unable

to accept some tempting movie offers, including "The Hunt for Red October."

"Larry and I will have a project ready to go as soon as 'Hunter' goes off the air," he said. "We'll

step right from the series into something we've already prepared."

"Even though I will be producing, I still want to act. It was something I began thinking about in

1972 when I was in football. After playing for six years, I decided I could act when I saw what

they were doing on TV."