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August 19, 1994 - Image 127

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-08-19

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Legal Eagle


bile sitting in a trendy,
upscale Los Angeles
restaurant munching
on a fresh tuna salad,
actor Alan Rachins marvels at
his TV stardom. "This is what I
always hoped for," said Mr.
Rachins, who plays the ruthless
attorney Douglas Brackman on
L.A. Law. "It's incredible how
much exposure the show has
brought me."
As the waitress leaned over to
refill his glass, she looked up into
his warm brown eyes, paused a
minute, and gave him a blushing
smile. "That's part of the fun,"
grinned Mr. Rachins, "you get
recognized all the time!"
But L.A. Law has given Mr.
Rachins more than recognition—
it has given him the chance to
show off his acting talents. His
multi-dimensional character,
whose professionalism
is balanced by the hu-
man comedy of his
personal life, has gone
from shrewd and
sleazy to somewhat
vulnerable, and has
displayed both normal
and bizarre behavior.
"At first, Douglas
was strictly about bill-
able hours and time
and money; then this
weird personal life
flourished; and re-
cently he has not been
quite so eccentric,"
noted the soft-spoken
actor, who is nothing
like his legal alter ego.
It is because of the
uniqueness of the
show that Mr.
Rachins jumped at
the chance to be a part
of the L.A. Law en-
semble. After reading
Steven Bochco's Pilot
script, he knew the
show would be well-
At a time when shallow sit-
coms with rapid-fire gag lines and
bikini-clad car-chasing teens
were sure hits, L.A. Law forged
new territory in nighttime tele-
vision, both in subject matter and
"It had a cerebral kind of talk-
ing that audiences were not used
to," said Mr. Rachins, who has
been with the show since the very
And it has lived up to its orig-
inal intentions, which is to point

L.A. Law
actor Alan
reflects on
the hit

out that the law is not black
and white. It's not set up
where there are good guys
and bad guys. We argue
both sides of an issue and
throw it in the people's
court and say to the view-
ers, 'you decide."
Over the years, there
have not been too many
subjects that L.A. Law
has not tackled—every-
thing from AIDS to sex-
ual harassment has been
covered. Recently, the
program even took on the
U.S. government in a
storyline about Panama.
But according to Mr.
Rachins, the best part of
his job is working with
his real-life wife Joanna
Frank, who plays his on-
camera ex-wife Sheila
Brackman on the show.
The Rachins have a
son, Robbie who is 11.
"Robbie takes acting
lessons and has gone
on several auditions,
and if he wants to be
an actor one day, that's
fine with us. Joanna
and I just want him to
have a normal child-
hood and be happy,
and we will be sup-
portive, no matter
what he pursues."
Mr. Rachins wish-
es his own father
had been just as sup-
portive. But he Alan Rachins: Making
wasn't. If his father the most of the Law.
Mr. Rachins was bit-
had his druthers,
ten by the acting bug in
Alan would have tak-
high school, when he
en over the family-
pranced around the
food manufacturing
stage as one of the Sev-
company, and produced cake dec-
orations, ice cream toppings and en Dwarfs in the Latin Club's
production of Snow White.
flavored syrups.
Afraid to study acting right
Yet despite his father's wish-
for fear he might fail, he
es, Alan was determined to fol-
spent two years at the Universi-
low his acting dream.
Born and raised in Boston in ty of Pennsylvania's Wharton
a relatively religious home, he School of Finance. That's when
had a bar mitzvah, celebrated all he knew for sure that going into
the major holidays, grew up in the family business wasn't for
a Jewish neighborhood and him, and he fled to New York
learned about Orthodox Judaism City to study drama.
It didn't take long before he
from his mother's side of the fam-
landed a succession of roles
An only child, Mr. Rachins NewYork, including the original
learned about death at a very ear- Broadway production ofAfter the
ly age. His mother passed away Rain and the original Off-Broad-
when he was only 11, "the same way production of Oh! Calcutta
age that my son is today, and it's —a play that he regrets inviting
something that I think about a his father to see. "He didn't ap-
prove of the play, to put it mild-
lot," he said.

ly," laughed the actor.
In 1972 he put his blossoming
theatrical career on hold when he
was accepted as a fellow in the
writing and directing program at
the American Film Institute in
Los Angeles.
His writing talents were rec-
ognized after completing the AFI
program, and he began to sell
scripts to a variety of shows in-
cluding Hill Street Blues, Fall
Guys, Hart to Hart, Knight Rid-
er and Quincy.
Despite his burgeoning success
as a writer, Mr. Rachins returned
to acting when he was offered the
lead role in Henry Jaglom's film
Always, the movie he claims led
to the role of Michael Brackman
on L.A. Law.
As Mr. Rachins sits back in his
chair and peers out the window

LEGAL page 79





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