"St. Petersburg Times"
Written by STEPHANIE DuBOIS
Quote; "Fred Dryer is using 'Hunter* to maximize his opportunities
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, 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 career."
The last two years, Hunter has steadily risen in the ratings, usually landing in the top 20 TV shows.
"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 Fred believes "when this show is all said and done I will be a
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."
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, thatís 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 behind."
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. 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, Cartlin, (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
"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,
It works for me. "