St. Petersburg Times

Sunday, June 12, 1988

Written by STEPHANIE DuBOIS

Quote: "Stepfanie Kramer of'Hunter' feels comfortable and in control other life

HOLLYWOOD - Vibrant, animated and disarmingly personable, Stepfanie Kramer's energy

encompasses you even before she firmly grasps your hand in a warm handshake.

"I love your name," Hunter's leading lady says with a laugh when introduced in the crowded,

celebrity-laced Italian restaurant. She explains her name originally was spelled with a "ph," but when she applied for membership in the Screen Actor's Guild, there was already a Stephanie

Kramer on the roster. "They said, you gotta change your name and you got 30 seconds - go ! I'd

started to write my name, got to the 'p' and went up for the 'h' and I just stuck an 'f in there. And they took it.

"People still don't know how to pronounce it," she says with a laugh that's more like a deep,

bubbly giggle with a gurgle in it. "They go, 'Here's Step - Fanie Kramer.'"

Although seemingly quite opposite from the no-nonsense police officer Dee Dee McCall she

portrays on the popular NBC series, Kramer says "there are a lot of parallels between my

character and myself."

"I'm not as hard-edged and tough as she needs to be in her work, but we're both very confident, assertive women in control of our lives. And we both like what we do."

Earlier this season, Kramer did show that she could be as hard-nosed and no-nonsense as her

series counterpart, refusing to do a show that had her character being raped for a second time.

She says she isn't worried about having a reputation for being difficult.

"You can't be responsible for what other people think about you," she says. "You can only

maintain your own integrity. I felt strongly about that issue. I just didn't want to be part of a constant exploitation on a real negative level. Luckily, it all worked out and it was still a very effective show. You have to stand up for what you believe in, regardless of what job, you're in."

Kramer says, she'll be more involved in the story lines next season and hopes to "see the show

deal more with current social issues like child abuse and drug abuse . . . not to become a forum, but put them in the show when feasible." She says the producers also have decided that for the fifth season, the show will delve more into the personal lives of Hunter and McCall, while refocusing on the relationship between the two.

"The strength of the show is the relationship between these two people," she says. "That's what makes the show different from any other cop show. It's the only show on television that features a man and a woman who are partners, friends and equals."

There still is no romance in store for Hunter and McCall, she says.

She adds that they get bundles of mail from fans pleading for the relationship to heat up, and says with a laugh, "Some of the things, they want us to do ... we just can't do on the air."

At the rate she's going, Kramer says, there won't be any romance in her personal life either.

"Personal life? What's that? It's hard with my schedule. Any free time not taken up by acting or

singing is really spent with just my family and friends, relaxing and hanging out."

She describes the end of a typical work day. "You get off work, drive home, take down your

messages, think about hopefully being able to return them in the next two weeks - truly I'm not exaggerating. You learn your lines for the next day, take a shower, go to bed and the next day you do it all over again. That's why when the weekend comes I really just try to relax."

"I say this all the time, but it's really appropriate," she goes on. "I consider myself a really normal person in an extremely abnormal industry. I'm not one who goes out to a lot of parties."

Does she have a problem with the men she does meet, confusing her with her on-screen persona?

She shakes her head vehemently.

"I wouldn't be interested in a man who couldn't separate between me and a role I portrayed.

Heaven help me .... What if I portrayed an ax murderess?" she asks, laughing.

She does see herself five years from now "married and raising a family." But right now she's

hoping to spend more time on her first love - music.

"It's always been a big part of my life," she says. "I was trained classically as a mezzo-soprano. I started out doing those traditional musical roles, but quite some time ago decided, I really preferred pop music, rock 'n' roll. I used to play in clubs five nights a week, four sets a night. Those kind of gigs that just basically kill you real fast, but are a lot of fun."

"It's been a little frustrating, because the music's had to stand back a little since I got involved with a series," Kramer says. But this year, she's confident her singing career will take off. She has been in the studio the past few months recording an album that will include several of her own tunes. "I'm very excited about it. I wasn't interested in jumping on the band wagon of hype, just making an album and selling it based on my show's popularity. I wanted to make sure it felt right when it was done and now it does."

Although most of her hiatus will be spent finishing her album, Kramer says she also plans to "start my painting again." She has drawn and painted since she was a little girl.

"It'll be a lot of fun," Kramer says, "to make that total shift to the right hemisphere of my brain. It's the ultimate relaxation."

An avowed workaholic, she says, "Sometimes I really have to force myself to not do anything."

But she no longer has a hard time relaxing. At least, "not as much as I used to. It was just a

matter of time, growth, a deepening knowledge of myself. The older you get, the more you come

to understand yourself and learn what it is, you truly need and want out of life."