- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Nealon’s appeal

Former “Saturday Night Live” mainstay Kevin Nealon studied advertising and marketing before becoming a Not Ready for Prime Time Player.

That experience wasn’t wasted when he switched to comedy because it’s every “SNL” performer’s duty to spoof 30-second advertisements in such a realistic manner that even seasoned show watchers get duped.

“The thought behind any of them was to fool the audience into thinking it’s a real commercial. The production values are the same,” says Mr. Nealon, who is best known among fans for being part of the Hanz and Franz bodybuilding duo on “SNL.”

The comic actor is an appropriate host for TBS’ “Funniest Commercials of the Year: 2004,” airing at 9 tonight. The special trots out the smartest, savviest spots from the United States and abroad.

Ten of the featured 50 commercials were selected by the public via an online poll conducted on the TBS Web site. The hourlong show also highlights funny commercials from years past.

“The advertisers are realizing people want to be entertained,” says Mr. Nealon, who cites “SNL’s” “Colon Blow Cereal” as one of his favorite satires.

Today’s ads also have a murkier message, especially those broadcast overseas.

“Some of them had a dark, edgy side to them … we couldn’t get away with that in the U.S.,” he says, adding that most sales pitches are either sex-based or fear-based.

Mr. Nealon doesn’t watch the sketch show much these days, but the experience lives on within him.

“It’s like graduating from high school,” says Mr. Nealon, who next can be seen in the Showtime original series “Weeds,” which focused on a soccer mom who becomes a marijuana dealer on the side.

The actor, who regularly appears in such feature films as “Happy Gilmore” and “Daddy Day Car,” says “SNL” made it all happen.

“It was like a boot camp for the rest of your career,” he says.

Baldwin goes ‘Inside’

Actor Adam Baldwin is the newest cast member of Fox’s upcoming drama series “The Inside,” Reuters News Agency reports.

Mr. Baldwin, no relation to the headline-grabbing Baldwin brothers, will play a tough, seasoned FBI agent with 25 years on the job.

The project centers on an ambitious but green colleague (Rachel Nichols) who is assigned to the agency’s Los Angeles Violent Crimes Division.

Mr. Baldwin, who co-starred in “Firefly,” Joss Whedon’s short-lived sci-fi drama for Fox, next will be seen in the film version of the failed TV series. The actor reprises his role as Jayne Cobb.

Some may recall Mr. Baldwin’s impressive film debut in the 1980 teen drama “My Bodyguard” in which he played a troubled brute who comes to the aid of the school nerd.

• In other casting news, Stacy Keach is returning to television playing a warden on the Fox drama “Prison Break.”

The pilot, to be shot by “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner, centers on an engineer (Wentworth Miller) whoentersa prison he designed in order to assist the escape of his brother (Dominic Purcell), a death row inmate who insists he is innocent.

Mr. Keach played hard-boiled private eye Mike Hammer in a variety of TV vehicles and starred as the crazed father in Fox’s “Titus.”

He won a Golden Globe in 1989 for his title role in the miniseries “Hemingway,” which also earned the actor an Emmy nomination.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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