- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Geek 2.0

Young Christopher Gorham didn’t know some classmates saw him as less than cool until a pretty girl paid him an innocent compliment.

The comely classmate turned to him during an eighth-grade skiing trip and said, “Remember last year when you were a nerd?”

“I didn’t remember being a nerd last year,” recalls Mr. Gorham, the star of UPN’s clever new drama “Jake 2.0.”

The incident reminds him of life’s unspoken class systems. “People see you differently depending on where they’re coming from,” he says.

For Jake, that territory is all too real. The title character may have nanites — microscopic computers that grant him superhuman powers — coursing through him, but he still sees himself as the guy who never gets the girl.

Mr. Gorham, who previously starred in “Felicity” and “Popular,” embraces his flawed alter ego.

“It makes him lovable and human,” he says of Jake’s insecurities. “He’s still kind of socially awkward. He’s nowhere near overconfident.

“He’s not used to coming out ahead every week,” he says with a laugh.

The show’s creators sought to update the well-worn “Six Million Dollar Man” concept from the 1970s, but with a vulnerable element.

Mr. Gorham says he drew some inspiration from another flawed hero, “Spider-Man’s” Peter Parker.

“Jake 2.0,” which transforms the former Jake Foley into a secret agent, is far from a runaway hit, but its debut drew respectable reviews, and its blend of teen angst and sci-fi derring-do makes it a likely choice for minor cult status … that is, should the show survive its maiden season.

“I hope [UPN executives] have the patience to let us grow into ourselves. With a show like this, word of mouth is going to boost the ratings,” Mr. Gorham says.

The show already has made some noise via the Internet. Mr. Gorham isn’t averse to dropping in on some online chats to get the fans’ pulse.

Viewers seem split between those who prefer heavier action and others who dig the emotional fireworks occasionally displayed. Fans also bicker endlessly about the veracity of the nanite technology, a notion that tickles Mr. Gorham — who’s hardly a science-fiction buff.

Future episodes, the actor says, will introduce Jake’s younger brother and include the theft of a tactical nuclear warhead. Likewise, the action also will pick up soon, he says, particularly when Jake has to infiltrate the group behind the nuclear theft.

Mrs. Bush visits King

Former first lady Barbara Bush drops by Larry King’s show tonight to share memories of life during and after her White House days.

Mrs. Bush is embarking on a publicity tour promoting her new book, “Reflections: Life After the White House.” She will talk to Mr. King via a remote from Houston beginning at 9 on CNN.

The genial grandmother also has plenty to say about the current White House occupant. She made news Monday when she declared on NBC’s “Today” that the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates was a “pretty sorry group.”

Evans ‘toons in

Hollywood producer Robert Evans has taken self-promotion to a new level. The man who helped pull enough strings to produce “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Godfather” has turned his larger-than-life ego into an animated series.

“Kid Notorious” debuting on Comedy Central at 10:30 tonight, casts Mr. Evans as a producer-slash-man-about-town who has his way with both Hollywood and the ladies.

The oft-divorced Mr. Evans includes his real-life butler for the show, along with his actual neighbor, Slash of Guns N’ Roses.

Mr. Evans, who supplied his own narration for the quasi-biopic “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” uses his own speaking voice here. He also writes his dialogue — because, as he fondly says, no one could capture his voice but him.

The episodes brim with incidents purportedly based on Mr. Evans’ real life, but given his gift for the bombastic, it’s safe to say the term nonfiction should be loosely applied .

Williams’ ‘Street’ life

Tennis great Serena Williams makes her dramatic debut on Showtime’s “Street Time” tonight, tackling a subject matter that recalls the real-life tragedy that claimed the life of one of her sisters last month.

“Fly Girls,” airing at 10, finds Miss Williams playing a track star released from prison on a cocaine-trafficking charge she took for her thug beau.

Now she has to choose between being clean and the easy pleasures of criminal life.

Yetunde Price, the oldest sister of tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams, was shot and killed last month during an altercation in the family’s Compton, Los Angeles, neighborhood.

“Street Time,” airing Wednesday nights at 10, stars Rob Morrow (“Northern Exposure”) and Scott Cohen.

Call me madam

Jamie-Lynn Sigler of “The Sopranos” fame will play former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss in a USA Network movie tentatively titled “Going Down: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss,” notes the Hollywood Reporter.

Set to premiere early next year, the film will pick up Miss Fleiss’ story when she was a well-adjusted teenager from a prosperous doctor’s family who entered the world of high-class escorts, learning the secrets of the trade under the tutelage of the famed Madam Alex.

It will follow Miss Fleiss as she turned on her mentor and took control of the thriving high-priced call-girl ring — running it until she was arrested in 1993 and spent more than three years in federal prison.

Miss Sigler, who stars as Meadow Soprano, earned a Screen Actors Guild Award for her role as a mobster’s daughter on the hit HBO series.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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