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Breakfast With

David Conrad

Monday, October 27, 2003

By Particia Sheridan, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, actor David Conrad went to Brown University and Juilliard before working with some of Hollywood's biggest names, including Woody Allen and Robert DeNiro. He was in from California last weekend and attended the Steeltown Entertainment reception at The Andy Warhol Museum. You can see him Friday nights at 8 on NBC's "Miss Match" with Alicia Silverstone and Ryan O'Neal.

Q. Did a potential celebrity lifestyle have anything to do with your decision to become an actor?

A. No, it didn't. I thought I was going to be broke, because nobody I knew made any money. When I chose to do this, I was in high school and then college. It was all about drama school. I thought I'd live in New York, you know, and be some decent but broke stage actor.

Q. How much of the business is knowing the right people and how much is raw talent?

A. I would say it's 70/30. I would say probably 70 percent knowing the right people, being in the right place, going to the right parties. Staying in touch with the people you've worked with and being in the market in L.A.

Q. Than networking skills are almost as important as talent?

A. Absolutely. And timing, looks and whether or not you are willing to engage in the game here. Yeah, sometimes talent almost gets in the way. Sometimes it can be more trouble for a director or producer than it's worth. Some people with real talent can be fiery about it. Producers don't like that. You know, like Val Kilmer. A really good actor, but people won't sometimes give him a job because he's such a forceful guy.

Q. What do you think of the idea of transforming Pittsburgh into Hollywood east?

A. You know you might as well start with a dream. I think it's great. Talk about networking. Carl [Kurlander] really knows how to work it. If he can get half the people he knows, or talks to, to invest some time in Pittsburgh, it will be a great thing. I'm small fries compared to the others who came to Pittsburgh [for the Steeltown Entertainment project].

Q. How do you like "Miss Match?" Is the cast meshing?

A. The scripts are good. It's nice to work on. You know, again, I think they make the mistake of being too shiny and clean and they put too much makeup on us and the lights are all very rosy. It kind of loses like ... well, people want a little kick. They want a little edge. I think that's missing when you try to appeal to too many people. I think "Miss Match" would benefit from being a little more, I don't want to say trashier, but maybe a little bit more honest. More about the sort of lowdown that goes on between men and women. But it's fun to go to work. They're a good bunch of people. No one's involved in an illicit affair yet and no one has started fighting. Ryan [O'Neal] has little parties on the weekends, and if you want to go to his house and surf, it's great. I haven't met Farrah Fawcett yet. She's in New York working on a play. I don't know what I'd do if I met her. I remember the day I met Suzanne Summers and I almost asked her out on a date. It took a lot of will to stop.

Q. Speaking of that, are you dating anyone famous?

A. No, I'm not dating anyone famous. I'm going to try, though. I would say it's great to sit around with somebody and talk about plays and stuff like that, you know. But it seems to be the exception for me. It's rarer for me to date an actress, rather than somebody else.

Q. Why do you think so many more film actors are happily doing television?

A. There are fewer films being made and people don't get their quotes anymore. It used to be that actors would get paid certain incremental amounts as your career went on, but that's been eliminated. I mean producers will come up to people who have been working in the business 20 years and be like, you know it's a Robert DeNiro film and you are going to make $70,000 instead of $250,000 and we aren't going to house you. The money in television is still really good, and if you go to syndication you'll never have to work again. Also, there is less interest in making less money to make better work, you know. The overlap between film and television is much more permeable now.

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