12A -The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 5, 1999
Wopat takes shot with'Annie'
NEW YORK - His trusty Dodge
Charger, the General Lee, long ago
junked in some dusty corner of
Hollywood propland, Tom Wopat rolls
through midtown Manhattan on a sleek
red bicycle. Still hunky and folksy, the
actor best known as Luke Duke, one of
television's hell-raising "Dukes, of
Hazzard," becomes a ladies' man and
Wild West show sharpshooter in his latest
incarnation, in the Broadway musical
"Annie GetYour Gun."
The bike stashed inside the stage door
of the Marquis Theatre, Wopat (who
sports a Vandyke for his rugged-but-sen-
sitive Frank Butler) saunters a couple of
blocks east for a platter of ribs washed
back with iced tea.
He's in an expansive mood. At 47, he's
just seen a dream come true: "To origi-
nate a role on Broadway."
"Annie" is a revival, of course, but
that's close enough for a high-profile
actor known for taking over during the
run of shows ("City of Angels' "Guys
and Dolls"). Publicity says that Wopat
was "handpicked" by the star, Bernadette
Peters, but he modestly scoffs at this. "She
had approval," he agrees, explaining that
he auditioned and "then cooled my heels
while they saw everyone else in the tradi-
tional leading man category"
It was worth waiting. Reviews for the
show, which opened March 4, have
weighed in on the favorable side, and
Wopat doesn't even mind the surprise reg-
istered that he's so good. He has left his
home in Nashville, Tenn., taken a
Manhattan sublet and, now that all the
madness of opening has begun to subside,
is easing himself into the New York-kind-
of-guy mode. The other night he attended
a Knicks game.
Meanwhile, he's plotting a quick trip
down to Tennessee. "The show lets out at
5:45 on Sunday, I've got a car waiting
right there. The plane's at 6:55; I can make
it. I'll be in Nashville by 8:30 and come
back Tuesday, in time for the show. I
haven't told Bernadette yet,'he says with
a guilty smirk, "but I'm going to."
Raised on a dairy farm 20 miles ("but
it might as well have been a million")
from Madison, Wis., where he went to
college, Wopat moved to Los Angeles in
the late '70s when he got the role in
"Dukes." But he was never a fan of L.A.
"When I flew out there to read for the
part, there was a fire in one of the
canyons, and from the plane I could see
this yellow glow under the clouds. It just
After the series was canceled in '85,
Wopat moved across the country to
Nashville. "I had a record deal down
there. I was just burned out on Los
Angeles. I don't like the business, and
everyone there is in the business. Even the
guys bagging groceries have ideas for
scripts." He has returned for television
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work - a recurring role in "Cybill"(her
first ex-husband) as well as guesting on
other series and a half-dozen made-for-
television films - but never to live.
Once based in the country music capi-
tal, he traveled with his Full Moon Band
and cut four records singing and playing
some of his own songs. Wopat and John
Schneider, who played Bo Hazzard, also
have done a number of "good old boys"
After college, Wopat got his Actors
Equity card at a Michigan summer the-
ater, and for years he's returned annually
to star in a show there ("South Pacific" in
1998). But asked if he sees himself mov-
ing back to the Midwest, he is less enthu-
siastic: "I don't reckon I'd stay in one
place when I ... " he balks at the word.
"Retiring is a kinda foreign concept to
A review posted on a bulletin board at
the Marquis gushes that Wopat is "very
sexy" but if the actor feels that Frank's
legendary masculine charm reflects the
person who plays him, he gives what even
he admits is a "convoluted" answer:
"There must be something there that
works for the leading-man type of charac-
ter. I just try to be as honest as I can in a
Here are the facts: Wopat has been
married twice and has five children, ages
14 to 3, "by four different mothers."
Two of the children are 14. He uses
"convoluted" again, adding that the situa-
tion "is a little intense, but everyone is
healthy and relatively healthy, so I can't
complain." It is, he says, "unfortunate that
I haven't been more successful in my per-
sonal life, but that's the way it's shaken
out, and I deal with it." He's close to all his
children, he says.
When "Dukes" came along, Wopat
was just breaking into the New York the-
ater scene and, like many actors, was
lured west by the money to be earned
doing television. Although it made him
comfortable, he says he's hardly wealthy
- "I've got too many kids for that" -
and besides, he likes to work.
And he did become famous. It's been
15 years since "Dukes" went off the air,
"and now it's about half and half"- half
of the people still recognize him from that
series, which is currently in nightly reruns
on TNN. (Wopat says he doesn't watch: "I
don't indulge in nostalgia. Besides, it's
disconcerting to see yourself that much
"It wouldn'ttmake any difference if this
bothers me or not"he says about such lin-
gering affiliations. "As you get more
mature you accept the things you can't
change. I'm not ashamed of it - like
Buffalo Bill says, 'It was good for chil-
dren of all ages."'
DreamWorks' first now on DVD
By Matthew Barrett
Daily Arts Writer
Like it or not, "The Peacemaker"
has a place in movie history. And it
has nothing to do with its content.
No, the action-thriller will always
hold a place in our hearts because it
was the first feature to come from
Steven Spielberg's much-hyped
DreamWorks studio. The film itself
isn't much to speak of, it stars
George Clooney and Nicole
Kidman as two government types
bent on recovering a missing war-
head before some loser detonates it
in New York city (note: this could be
mildly acceptable if the damage was
confined to Yankee Stadium).
For Clooney, the part is another in
an actress of Kidman's level decided
to appear in this dull attempt at sus-
pense will forever remain a mystery.
The DVD version of "The
Peacemaker" has some very attrac-
tive extra features, but they leave
much to be desired time-wise. A
series of outtakes from the cutting
room floor are very funny, but the
entire segment only lasts a few min-
utes. Ditto with the sequence where
they show how a particular scene
was shot, and then show the fin-
ished product. Once again, the sole
claim to fame of "The Peacemaker"
is that it's the first movie from
DreamWorks, and this alone isn't
cause for adding it to your DVD col-
Courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures
Kldman and Clooney try to escape.
a streak of onscreen misfires that
continued until he delivered big
time with "Out of Sight." And why
Death, Pitt damns onto DVD
By Ed Shonky
Daily Film Editor
Last Fall, "Meet Joe Black" flopped onto the big screen,
contributing the major financial losses that started with "Out
of Sight" and continued through "Babe 2: Pig in the City."
The shame of "Meet Joe Black" being annihilated by both
audiences and critics is that it's a darn good movie.
Appearing on both DVD and video tomorrow, "Meet Joe
Black" should probably do much better on the small screen
than the big screen. Clocking in at a massive three hours, the
DVD version of this film - which allows you to get up and
pause the movie so you can take a breather - captures the
beauty of the screen version. Unfortunetly, however, the
film's flaws still come through strikingly.
The gorgeous transfer to DVD allows a widescreen pre-
sentation of "Meet Joe Black" that is essential to appreciate
the beauty with which director Martin Breast infused the
film. With grandiose N.Y.C. apartments and a breathtaking
fireworks display, DVD and widescreen are the perfect for-
mant for this film off the big screen.
It's too bad, though, that Universal choose to add no spe-
cials to the DVD. No one was asking that they show deleted
scenes - it's not really clear that they took anything out of
the movie - but a director's commentary would have been
nice. With the critical thrashing that the film took, particu-
courtsey of Universal
Claire Forlani and Brad Pitt make a beautiful couple.
larly for its unnecessarlity long running time, it would have
been terrific to hear Breast weigh in on why he kept certain
subplots in the film.
As it stands, though, "Meet Joe Black" was very
underrated when it came out, and deserves a much bet-
ter fate on DVD.
Tucker redefines TGI Friday'
By Matthew Barrett
Daily Arts Writer
Before he played the annoying
wisecracker alongside Jackie Chan in
the smash hit "Rush Hour," Chris
Tucker played the annoying wise-
cracker alongside Ice Cube in
"Friday." And although Tucker won't
ever be honored for his acting range,
he is more than capable of bringing a
smile to the face.
Here Tucker plays Smokey, a drug
dealer who seems to smoke more
dope than he sells. Smokey is more
than content to spend this particular
Friday hanging out with his unem-
ployed bud Craig (Ice Cube), but the
serene day is interrupted when a drug
boss stops by to pick up his money.
Smokey doesn't have the dough or
the drugs, so he and Craig have to
figure out some way to scam the cash
by that night, or else things could get
Although Tucker may get most of
the laughs, "Friday" is Ice Cube's
show - he co-wrote, co-produced
and co-stars in the movie. In addition,
F. Gary Gray, the movie's director,
honed his skills by directing one of
Cube's music videos.
The DVD version of "Friday" is
packed with extras that should spark
more than a casual bud of interest for
fans of the movie. Interviews with
Gray and co-producer Patricia
Charbonnet reveal some interesting
things about the movie, including the
fact that it was shot in a mere 20 days.
Also contained are several deleted
scenes, an alternate ending, music
videos by Dr. Dre and Ice Cube from
the film's soundtrack and the all-
important trailers. So whether you're
a die-hard Tucker fan, want to chill
with Cube or just waste a Friday
afternoon, this movie should leave
you in a peaceful state of mind.