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The Buzz: Quaker Valley grad looks to return to WB series next season

Thursday, April 20, 2000

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

As if dueling with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, weren't tough enough, 1990 Quaker Valley High graduate Wentworth Miller III went up against vicious "Popular" diva Nicole (Tammy Lynn Michaels) during February sweeps, but this battle he survived.

Miller's Adam returns to "Popular" tonight (8 on WCWB) in an episode that features guest stars Delta Burke (as the fast-talking, Texas billionaire mother of another student) and Erik Estrada (as a cop who gets Zsa-Zsaed by Burke).

Although it's his final "Popular" guest appearance of the season, Miller said producers want his character to return.

"They like having a male character with sass and some sinister spice," he said by phone. "The rest of the guys are sweet-natured."

"Popular" has become a hit with teen-age girls, mostly because its outrageous comedy sets the series apart from The WB's angsty teen dramas.

"I like to think of it as '90210' meets 'Heathers' meets 'Parker Lewis Can't Lose,' " Miller says, accurately summing up the show's influences.

Miller, who had the lead in his senior year production of "Lil' Abner" ("Yes, it was me running around in overalls. I've come a long way"), has also filmed three episodes of Fox's "Time of Your Life." Only one of his episodes has aired so far. The Jennifer Love Hewitt series is expected to return this summer with Miller as a co-worker of series regular Diego Serrano at a hair salon.

Miller, who graduated from Princeton University in 1995, made his TV debut in an early episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as a swim team captain who turns into a monster.

"I'd never been on a set before, and on the last day of the shoot they filmed me transforming into a sea monster," Miller said.

It was fun, but not easy. After his chest was shaved, Miller was outfitted in two layers of prosthetics. First, a scaly skin was applied and then "human skin" was put on top of that.

"Just before we shot it, they said, 'Remember, we can only do this once' because [they only had the one set of prosthetics]," Miller said. "Then I spent four hours grabbing at my chest," ripping through the top layer of fake human skin to reveal the fishy skin beneath.

Afterwards, a crew member told Miller they'd call him again if they ever needed someone to transform into something.

"That's the best compliment I ever got," Miller said.

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