- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 29, 2000

LOS ANGELES Scott Bakula wore two hats for the CBS movie "Papa's Angels."

One was the wide-brimmed brown hat he wears in his starring role as banjo-strumming dad "Grins" Jenkins in the heartfelt seasonal film set in Appalachia in the 1930s (Sunday at 9 p.m. on WUSA Channel 9). The other was his producer's hat. "Papa's Angels" was produced by Bakula Productions Inc. along with Marian Rees Associates Inc.

"It's not easy with your producer's hat on," Mr. Bakula says. It's even harder, he adds, to be actor-producer than to be actor-director. Mr. Bakula directed himself in many episodes of "Quantum Leap," his TV series that ran from 1989 to '93. His producer credits include his series about undercover agents, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," which lasted only 13 episodes in 1996.

"You have to take that hat off, and you have to do the scene and not be thinking, 'Oh, my gosh. We're two hours behind, and I'll help. I'll do the scene faster. I'll talk faster. You don't have to tell me,' " he says, chuckling as he speeds up his voice like a tape recorder on fast-forward.

"Everything about Scott was right for this role," says Miss Rees, who approached Mr. Bakula to take on the project. "His age was right, his sensibilities he's such a decent man the fact that he's also a father."

Also, she stresses, "He's a gifted musician, and the music is indigenous to the character and the story."

"Papa's Angels" has many songs, including one written by Mr. Bakula, who played the banjo in the style of the '30s almost entirely with thumb and one finger.

The movie is an adaptation of the popular little book "Papa's Angels: A Christmas Story" by Collin Wilcox Paxton and Gary Carden. It is the story of a family discovering the power of the spirit to heal even in the face of extreme loss.

"It's such an artful piece," Mr. Bakula says. "It's about such great depth of emotion and about transitions in life. You just don't get a chance to do things like it anymore because the work [in television] has become so much by committee."

Mr. Bakula, 46, incorporates music into his roles whenever possible. He was born and raised in St. Louis, Mo., and has been singing almost as long as he can remember. As a youngster, he put together his own rock 'n' roll band. He starred in local productions of such popular musicals as "Godspell."

In 1976, he "followed the song" to New York. He arrived on a Wednesday and was hired by Friday for a dinner-theater tour in North Carolina of the musical "Shenandoah." Years later, he was nominated for a Tony as best actor in the Broadway musical "Romance/Romance."

He starred in the 1996 CBS movie "Bachelor's Baby," about a single man who finds a baby dropped on his doorstep. "It was very successful, so they've kept saying since then, 'You and kids. Anything with you and kids,' " says Mr. Bakula, the father of four children.

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