- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 15, 2004

Patrick’s shiny ‘Apple’

Actor Robert Patrick stole much of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991) from its star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, so the thought of following up that film with small screen gigs left him cold.

“I honestly didn’t want to do television for a long time,” Mr. Patrick said. “But I made a lot of direct-to-video movies and I said, ‘Who am I kidding?’”

That pragmatic streak left him free to romp through two of the genre’s most respected series — “The Sopranos” and “The X-Files.”

“The business is a lot different now,” he said. “It’s a whole new paradigm. Actors are looking for great material, and a lot of it’s on TV.”

Mr. Patrick reaches out to television again for tonight’s new TNT film “Bad Apple.” The movie, debuting at 9, is based on the Anthony Bruno novel about a pair of unorthodox FBI agents (Chris Noth and Colm Meaney) chasing down a loan-shark operation.

Mr. Patrick plays Tommy “Bells” Bellavita, a vicious gangster who sports a traffic-stopping bleach-blond ‘do. The role proved a welcome release for Mr. Patrick, who played a stoic crimefighter on “The X-Files” and takes a similarly dour turn with his upcoming firefighter drama “Ladder 49,” starring John Travolta.

It’s hard to see, at face value, why Mr. Patrick would be anyone’s choice for a screen villain. He’s handsome in a somewhat ordinary manner, without the kind of exaggerated features a director could leverage for extra malice.

That didn’t stop him from transforming the liquid-steel robot in “Terminator 2” into a screen monster for the ages. The intense, businesslike strut he gave the creation cemented the performance.

Actors often don’t hopscotch from white-hat to black-hat parts, but a conversation Mr. Patrick had with “Rockford Files” star James Garner years earlier on the set of 1993’s “Fire in the Sky” foreshadowed his career.

“[Mr. Garner] said to me, ‘You’re gonna be able to play leading men and you’ll play villains,’ and he’s been right. I’ve seemed to be able to jump back and forth,” says Mr. Patrick, who still wishes he played more leading men.

For “Apple,” he at least gets to loosen up some of those tightly fastened buttons of his regular screen personas. He even gets to don ‘70s-era sunglasses to complement his crazed hair.

That look fits in well with the rest of the iconoclastic production design — right down to Mr. Noth’s porkchop sideburns.

“It feels very Allman Brothers,” Mr. Patrick explains. “Chris Noth had a lot to do with the way he wanted this to look,” he says of the film’s star, who also served as an executive producer.

The film-style melange does distinguish it from other cop dramas, but that coup is overshadowed by some of its clumsy comedy.

While many actors shudder at the thought of being typecast — something that very well could have happened to Mr. Patrick following “Terminator 2” — he says he’s at peace with that fate.

“It’s something I carry with me,” he said.

Mel’s ‘Primetime’ chat

Embattled director Mel Gibson sits down with ABC’s Diane Sawyer tonight to discuss his upcoming film “The Passion of the Christ.”

The special edition of the ABC newsmagazine airs at 10 p.m.

The actor and filmmaker will discuss his new movie, which recounts the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus Christ. The film, opening Feb. 25, has ignited passionate discourse over the past few months after preview screenings caused some to see the work as anti-Semitic.

Small talk

Associated Press

Just as “The Station Agent” is painting movie screens with an emotionally rich, unhackneyed story about a dwarf, Fox escorts “The Littlest Groom” down the reality-TV aisle.

Is the dating show with the saccharine title about a 4-foot-5 man wooing both small and average-size women a case of one step forward, two steps back? No, said Glen Foster, the 23-year-old Philadelphia bachelor featured in the two-part special premiering tonight at 8.

Others, though, have a wait-and-see attitude. “We’re mildly concerned. But we remain neutral,” said Dan Okenfuss, spokesman for the Little People of America, an 8,000-member organization that provides support and information to the short-statured.

In the first hour, Mr. Foster is presented with a group of 12 women, all little people, and goes through reality TV’s freeze-dried version of courtship. A Malibu mansion is base camp; Dani Behr (“Boy Meets Boy”) is the host.

After contestant eliminations, women of average height join the fray.

Another twist: There’ll be no cash prize for the happy couple. But, they’ll have each other — plus an all-expenses-paid vacation to get to know each other better.

Sexual reality check

Tonight’s new Lifetime original movie has an ace up its sleeve, a starring role by Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden.

“She’s Too Young” stars Miss Harden as a naive mother dealing with her teenage daughter’s budding sexuality.

The actress won her statuette for the 2000 film “Pollock,” and just might nab a second one for her work in last year’s “Mystic River.” Once again, she’s nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category.

“She’s Too Young,” which also stars Alexis Dziena and Mike Erwin, airs at 8 tonight on cable’s Lifetime channel.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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