- The Washington Times - Monday, July 5, 2004

Walsh’s D.C. days

Actor Dylan Walsh’s acting education began not at the University of Virginia’s theater department but onstage at the District’s Studio Theatre and Arena Stage.

Mr. Walsh, currently starring in the FX series “Nip/Tuck,” played tiny roles in the two theatrical companies during his teenage years in Annandale.

He didn’t have many lines, so he spent his time watching everything — and everyone — around him. The young actor would watch the production’s stars rehearse backstage and swap improvisational techniques, all the while taking furious mental notes.

“The greatest education I had was being at Arena Stage,” said Mr. Walsh during a shooting break in his drama’s schedule.

Today he stars on one of cable television’s most talked about shows, an unexpurgated glimpse into the turbulent lives of two Miami plastic surgeons. The drama, airing Tuesday evenings at 10 on FX, isn’t for the squeamish or easily offended.

Yet those put off by “Nip/Tuck’s” crass flourishes, gory surgical scenes and racy sexual situations might reconsider their positions this year. Yes, the shocking elements still remain. But now the emphasis is more on the characters than on a “look what we can show on cable TV approach.”

“In a first season, if you’re smart, you’re trying as hard as you can to get an audience,” Mr. Walsh says.

Now, with the second season in full swing, the cast and crew are breathing easier.

“The mind-set of trying to become a success and just being able to work on your show is so different,” says Mr. Walsh, who plays the morally superior Dr. Sean McNamara. “The writing this year has more depth to it. They’re relaxed over there in the writing room.”

McNamara may seem like the physician a mother would want her daughter to marry, as opposed to the lady-killer Dr. Christian Troy (Julian McMahon), but the ethical differences between the two routinely seem to blur.

“That’s what Julian and I love about the show,” Mr. Walsh says of the two characters. “They started off, on the surface, as a good guy and a bad guy, but even in the pilot that get’s mixed up. This year, they’re doing that in a broader way.”

This season, Dr. Troy is juggling daddy duty as he cares for an ex-fling’s baby son.

Even in the post-Janet Jackson television landscape, “Nip/Tuck” routinely pushes whatever boundaries still need pushing.

That’s fine by Mr. Walsh.

“I’m proud that our show has not pulled its punches in this current climate,” he says.

Heeeeeere’s Alf

Ed McMahon is back in sidekick mode.

His partner this time isn’t Johnny Carson, but a furry cat-eater from the planet Melmac.

Mr. McMahon is playing second banana to Alf, the star of NBC’s late 1980s sitcom, as part of a new talk show pilot for TV Land, the Associated Press reports.

The cable network will air “Alf’s Hit Talk Show” at 10 p.m. tomorrow, followed by four episodes of his old NBC show.

The new program relies on the standard late-night talk show format, but the jokes in the pilot submitted to critics prove so numbingly inane that it will take tons of nostalgic good will to reel in viewers. Not surprisingly, the show’s future hangs on how many earthlings tune in to watch the furry alien, voiced by Paul Fusco.

In the pilot, Alf will be joined by guests Dennis Franz of “NYPD Blue” and comedian Drew Carey, with special appearances by Joan Rivers and Henry Winkler.

Charmed’ life

Nick Lachey’s life keeps getting better.

In his first major acting commitment, the pop singer-turned- MTV reality show star will join the cast of the WB’s witchcraft drama “Charmed,” Reuters News Agency reports.

Mr. Lachey, signing on for a six-episode arc, will play a guy hired as a ghostwriter for witch Phoebe’s (Alyssa Milano) advice column when she goes on a sabbatical leave and ends up romantically involved with her.

The star of MTV’s “Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica” was the producers’ first choice for the role.

Earlier this year, Mr. Lachey co-starred in the ABC comedy pilot “Hot Mamma,” which was not picked up as a series. He also headlined with wife Jessica Simpson on the highly rated ABC special “The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour,” leading to an order by the network for a Christmas special.

Likewise, Miss Simpson starred in a comedy pilot for the upcoming season — but it also got the axe.

Mr. Lachey, who rose to modest fame as a singer with boy-band 98 Degrees, previously did guest shots on NBC’s “American Dreams” and ABC’s “I’m With Her.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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