With Antonio Sabato Jr. hot off his two-year stint as Jagger, the brooding heartthrob on "General Hospital," his career may no longer be Earthbound now that he portrays a self-assured, "[top] Gun"-like space pilot who crash-lands on a distant planet in EARTH 2.
"Alonzo is a loner who's always looking for new and exciting things in life," says Sabato. "He has a big heart and a lot of courage in accepting new challenges. In a way, he's a voyager a lot like me, considering I left my country (Italy) for the United States. We also share similar interests because he's a pilot, which is something that I'm interested in."
Sabato was born in Rome on a February 29. His family moved to the United States when he was 12, and he later graduated from high school in Southern California. After joining the daytime drama "General Hospital" in the spring of 1992, he was nominated as Hottest Male and Outstanding Newcomer by Soap Opera Digest. Soon he was highlighted on the cover of TV Guide and included in People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People issue.
Sabato tries not to let his good looks or public adulation obscure his work as an actor. "Being described as a 'heartthrob' really doesn't affect me. It's sometimes part of the job, but my main focus is to get the job done. I focus on doing a good job and let the rest stand for itself."
Last year, Sabato co-starred in the NBC movie "Moment of Truth: Why My Daughter?" He most recently completed "Jailbreakers" - part of the "Showtime Drive-in Classics" series - co-starring Shannon Doherty and directed by William Friedkin. He also had lead roles in "Malcolm Takes A Shot," an After School Special; and "If I Didn't Have Love," an Italian film that received the 1991 Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Director, Foreign Film. His other Italian features include "Arizona Road." He also appears in Janet Jackson's music video "Love Will Never Do Without You."
Sabato is an experienced horseman. He also enjoys riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, deep-sea fishing, and scuba-diving. In addition, he supports several AIDS-related charities. He lives in Los Angeles.
CLANCY BROWN (John Danziger)
Unlike his father, former U.S. Rep. (Ohio) Clarence J. Brown, Clancy Brown is one Mr. Brown who will not be going to Washington, but instead will be headed out of this world to another Earth-like planet in NBC's new adventure series EARTH 2.
"I'm extraordinarily proud of my dad," says Brown, whose father served in Congress for 16 years and ran for governor in 1982. "He's one of my heroes. Politics never interested me, especially these days, because of its exaggerated public nature. To run for office means coming up with millions of dollars to make a candidate into a TV star."
Brown was born in Urbana, OH (near Columbus), on a January 5, and raised in both Urbana and Washington DC. He received a track scholarship to Northwestern University, from which he graduated with a B.S.S. degree in speech. He appeared in local Chicago theater until he was cast as Viking, a nasty prison inmate in the 1982 feature film "Bad Boys," starring Sean Penn. A year later he moved to Los Angeles, where he appeared in such movies as "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai," "Extreme Prejudice," "The Bride," "Pet Sematary II," and "Highlander (as the evil Kurgan). He also stars as a prison guard captain in the feature "The Shawshank Redemption," based on a Stephen King novel.
Brown's TV credits include the NBC mini-series "Love, Lies and Murder" and "Bloodlines: Murder in the Family" as well as the movies "Johnny Ryan," "Desperate Rescue," "Last Light," and "Cast a Deadly Spell" (the latter two for cable). He also guest-starred on "China Beach" and the cable series "Tales From The Crypt." Among his extensive theater credits are "Antony and Cleopatra" (starring opposite Mercedes Ruehl) at the Actors Theatre in Louisville, KY, in 1992; "Miss Julie"; "Romeo and Juliet"; "The Merchant of Venice" and "Much Ado About Nothing" (the latter two in Chicago).
Although he is still learning about his EARTH 2 character -- a take-charge high-tech mechanic -- Brown senses a comfortable fit. "He's just a regular guy. The most important thing to him is his daughter, but he also feels the whole group of pioneers needs to be taken care of. If someone is needed to take the trash out, he won't mind doing it."
Brown describes himself as an avid reader who particularly enjoys the works of Frank Herbert and Allan Eckert. In addition, he also likes to collect animation art, shoot a few basketball hoops, follow the Cincinnati Reds baseball team, and "goof around the house" as a handyman. Brown lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jeanne Johnson, a TV news producer.
DEBRAH FARENTINO (Devon Adair)
Debrah Farentino, who plays the courageous mother who organizes an ambitious expedition to find another Earth-like planet on EARTH 2, remembers aiming for the moon even as a teenager. "Just after the first moon landing, I heard if you had $100,000 you could go to the moon as a civilian. I was excited and immediately started saving my money in a bank account for my future moon trip. Eventually, I wound up using it for my college education."
Though she would not get her chance to fly to the moon, Farentino did the next best thing. She enrolled in several science courses at San Jose State University, not too far from where she was born (September 30) and raised - Lucas Valley, CA, about 40 miles north of San Francisco. "Science was not hard for me. I just like it. It's a very creative field, and there's always something new to learn."
However, Farantino's best lesson came from her father, who advised her to make science her hobby rather than her profession. As a result, she switched from biology as her major to theater arts, which had been her minor field of study. Soon after, she left to travel in Europe and South America before settling in Los Angeles to pursue acting in workshops and extension classes at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Farentino's first major career break came when she was cast as Sloane Denning Clegg on the daytime drama "Capitol." Five years later she left the series to resume her stage work and appear in her first feature film, "Cellar Dwellers." In 1987-88 she starred opposite John Ritter in "Hooperman," followed by another starring role as an attorney in the legal drama series "Equal Justice" (1990-91). Recently she appeared in the motion picture "Malice," the mini-series Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills" and six episodes of "NYPD Blue" (she will film one more this season).
An athletic woman, Farentino relishes working outdoors, frequently in the New Mexican desert as Devon Adair. "Devon is a committed, passionate woman who's highly focused on her dream. She's also a very dedicated mom. Before I had a child, I never appreciated that kind of drive to protect her own. It's like that old story about how adrenaline can give a person the ability to lift a car up off her child."
Time permitting, Farentino still enjoys studying a wide variety of academic material on such diverse subjects as cultural anthropology, Shakespeare, political science, and French. In addition, she pores over scientific journals and planetary magazines. She also likes to run, hike, ski, travel, and ride horses and is active in the general-relief organization Operation U.S.A. She lives in Los Angeles with her daughter, Molly, 3.
J. MADISON WRIGHT (True Danziger)
Traditionally, most young school kids flee from studying such demanding subjects as math and science, but True to her character in EARTH 2, 10-year-old J. Madison Wright embraces those courses as her favorites.
"Science is really interesting and I like to read books about it," says Madison. "I've done two science projects; one was about electricity, and the other was about how long the flavor in bubble gum lasts. I used five packs!"
Madison (the "J." is for Jessica, but Madison insists, "There are just too many Jessicas"), was born in Cincinnati, OH, on a July 29, and has grown up in nearby London, KY. Her mother stays home to take care of her and her 4-year-old sister, Victoria, while her father works as an operations manager for a security firm. Madison was 5 when she attended an open modeling audition on a lark. Chosen among a lucky few out of 400 others, Madison went to New York with her mother the following summer. They enjoyed themselves so much they decided to return the following summer to resume Madison's modeling career.
Soon Madison signed with the Eileen Ford modeling agency and was in demand. She looked at a few scripts before winning her first acting job, in an ice cream commercial. Although she was working almost every day as a model (along with her kid sister), she and her family decided they would enjoy the pace of life more in Los Angeles than in New York, so they moved there in 1992. Last season Madison guest-starred on "The Nanny" and "Grace Under Fire," both times as uppity little girls who entered beauty contests.
Madison portrays a motherless young girl whose busy father has taught her to take care of herself in a world of intergalactic space travel centuries in the future. "True has not been around kids that much, but she's very intelligent because she's been raised by 'space sailors,'" says Madison. "She's really almost like a grownup because she knows what she wants."
Apart from the set, Madison enjoys swimming, boogie-boarding, biking, hiking, and collecting rocks. She also loves to sing (especially Broadway show tunes), and once starred in "Really Rosie," a children's musical, in Los Angeles. She is a big fan of Judy Garland and Shirley Temple, but says she is told she resembles a young Natalie Wood or Winona Ryder. At home, her pets include four cats, a dog, and two goldfish.
JESSICA STEEN (Dr. Julia Heller)
Although her mother, an actress, vehemently opposed it, Jessica Steen practically fell into a life in the theater, starting from the time she was a child in Toronto, Canada. "My extended family was always eager to ham it up, costumed to the hilt for our annual Christmas skit. Our house was always bustling with a bunch of wild and wacky people whom my dad (then a director) and mom would bring home from the theater. When you grow up surrounded by such animated and exciting people where it seems that the circus is always in town, its hard not to resist becoming part of the act."
Steen, who was born in Toronto on a December 19, was 8 years old when she found her first performing role, n a Canadian TV series set in an amusement park. Later, when she was 18, her parents moved to Montreal and she remained in Toronto - or "Hollywood North," as it is sometimes called - and continued working. In the mid-1980s she appeared as the daughter of the character played by Lindsay Wagner in the TV movie "Young Again" (with fellow Canadian Keanu Reeves, a former schoolmate).
Steen found abundant roles in Toronto, especially with guest spots on Canadian-produced series such as "Night Heat." In 1989, she co-starred in the musical "Sing" and decided it was time to move to New York. "I wanted to see if the grass was really greener on the other side of the border." Ironically, she spent more time flying back and forth between California and Canada than she did in New York. During one five-week stint she subbed for pregnant actress Noelle Beck on the daytime drama "Loving," long enough to "give birth" to the character's baby until the actress could return. More important, the limited gig raised her profile enough to result in a co-starring role as Linda, the union organizer, on the critically acclaimed drama series "Homefront," in 1992-93.
Steen's Canadian motion picture credits include "Flying," "Still Life" and "John and the Missus." She was a regular cast member on the syndicated series "Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future." Among her TV movies are "High Country" and "Small Gift," both for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and "Working for Peanuts," for HBO. She has guest-starred on such TV series as "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "Captain Power" and was in the pilot of "Wiseguy."
In her latest role, Steen portrays a genetically enhanced doctor in the future who is the lead physician on a mission to an Earth-like planet. "She has an instinctual thirst for knowledge, but because of her genetic makeup, she gets a lot of flak," says Steen. "So, with quiet determination, she's driven to prove herself beyond that unfair advantage, so she keeps her nose to the grindstone."
Steen prefers to space out her acting assignments to allow time to maintain ties with her large family back home. In addition, she enjoys "getting as far away from the city as possible," which means kayaking, mountain-biking, rock-climbing, and traveling. As an artistic endeavor, she keeps a photo and video journal of friends and family. She is an avid admirer of David Suzuki, a Canadian environmentalist, and has volunteered to work within his organization. Says Steen: "I hope that by working on EARTH 2 we can raise our consciousness of 'Earth 1.'"
JOEY ZIMMERMAN(Uly Adair)
Already career-minded, 8-year-old Joey Zimmerman has mapped out an eclectic future and has decided to divide his adult years between becoming a member of a rock band, a bartender in a Fifties-style restaurant, and an inventor - not necessarily at the same time.
Meanwhile, he'll settle for a promising career as an actor as he appears on EARTH 2, portraying a physically impaired boy from the future who gets a second chance to run and play when his mother organizes an expedition to a mysterious - and populated - planet that may help heal him.
If I knew anyone like Ulysses, I would try to help him," says Joey, who was born in Albuquerque, NM, and raised mostly in San Diego. "I would like to explore new places like he does. But if I saw an alien, I would hide, unless, of course, he looked nice."
Joey, who was born on a June 10, got his big break two years ago thanks to his dad, an actor and attorney. The senior Zimmerman took his then-6-year-old son to a photo shoot and Joey asked to have some pictures taken of him at the same session. His father submitted some of the prints to his agent, which led to a McDonald's TV spot a few months later. Soon Joey was cast in the TV movie "Mother's Boys" (starring Jamie Lee Curtis), his first TV/film role of any kind. He later appeared in the NBC movies "Jack Reed: Badge of Honor" and "Murder Between Friends." He also guest-starred in an episode of NBC's "The Mommies" last season. Recently, he was seen in a national Frosted Wheat cereal commercial.
During schooltime, Joey's favorite subjects are math, Spanish and reading. Away from class and the set, he enjoys playing Mortal Kombat on the Sega Genesis video games, playing basketball and soccer, and joining his parents during their yearly sojourn [top] spring-training baseball camps. He also hopes to get a puppy someday. When not filming, he lives in San Diego with his father, mother (a secretary in a legal firm) and his sister (he also has an adult brother).
JOHN GEGENHUBER (Morgan Martin)
While one might have trouble pronouncing his name, no one would label a John Gegenhuber (pronounced GAY-gen-hue-ber) performance as wooden, even though he is an accomplished puppeteer who believes he is a better actor for the experience.
"People have the idea that since I'm also a puppeteer, I must work in a carnival with hand puppets," says Gegenhuber. "But it's a lot more sophisticated than that. I learned a lot about acting in very subtle ways. Many artistic disciplines converge in puppetry."
Born and raised in Palatine, IL (near Chicago), Gegenhuber is the sixth of seven children of a salesman and a homemaker. As a child he was inspired by watching such comedic greats as Jackie Gleason, Don Knotts, and Laurel and Hardy. He easily learned to draw, paint, sculpt and work with puppets, and he studied art for two years at Harper College in Palatine, eventually receiving his B.F.A. at the DePaul Goodman School of Drama.
After college Gegenhuber shuttled between local Chicago theaters and later (1985-86) became a resident company member in several productions at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC, before returning to Chicago. His first camera experience came when he appeared in "Ordinary People," a 1984 project at the Maine International Film Workshop. He found other roles in Chicago-based features, including "Straight Talk" and "Rookie of the Year" (as a cowering accountant for the Chicago Cubs). In 1993 he relocated to Los Angeles and soon guest-starred on "Murphy Brown," "Grace Under Fire" and NBC's "Seinfeld." He also appeared in the two-hour series pilot of "The Untouchables."
Gegenhuber now portrays a cowardly government liaison who has a keen knack for survival on a distant planet. "I see him as a kind of bumbler, not unlike a Don Knotts type of character," he says. "He's a scheming, needy pompous ass. He tries hard to be a nice guy, but he's not constitutionally capable of it."
In addition to his puppetry, the artistic Gegenhuber enjoys sketching cartoons, playing his instruments (guitar, banjo, fiddle), following Chicago sports teams and staying sharp by practicing with a group of improvisational actors. He and his wife, Cynthia Orthal, reside in Eagle Rock, CA.
REBECCA GAYHEART (Bess Martin)
As a coal miner's daughter, Rebecca Gayheart only has to look at her native Kentucky to find inspiration for her new role as - a coal miner's daughter. "When I got the part, I called my daddy back home, who still works in the mines, and kidded him by saying, 'I knew you'd come in handy someday!'"
Gayheart was raised in Pine[top], KY, not far from Hazard, KY, where she was born on an August 12. A mix of Italian, Irish, German and Cherokee, she has two sisters and a brother, and their mother sells a nationally known line of cosmetics. She decided to move to New York at age 15 to finish her high school education after spending a summer there modeling. "I saw all my cousins and aunts and brothers and sisters get married young, and I decided I would take a different route and see the world first. My passion was acting and I had to be in the city where it was all happening.
A few years later, Gayheart completed high school at New York's Professional Children's School (a curriculum approved for young entertainers). She then studied at the Lee Strasberg Institute for two and a half years. Midway through her term there, she became a cast regular on the daytime drama "Loving" as Hannah, a sweet young lady who turned psychotic after developing a fatal attraction for her professor. Two years later, she left (in August 1993).
Gayheart recently starred in "Vanishing Son," a syndicated "Action Pack" TV movie, as a cellist involved in an interracial affair. She also guest-starred on "The Cosby Show" and "All My Children," and she appeared in the film short "Whatever Happened to Mason Reese?" In addition, she is often recognized for her appearance in a national commercial for Noxzema face cream.
As Bess, Gayheart plays a woman who accompanies her shifty husband on an intergalactic trek for a new Earth-like planet. "Bess is sweet as pie, but you don't want to cross her," she says. "She's soulful, spiritual, and maternal. She loves her husband with all her heart and tries to see good in everybody. There are definite similarities between us."
In her leisure time, Gayheart likes to read, paint, and rollerblade, and is beginning to collect antiques. She also is active in the "Big Brother, Big Sister" program and the Make a Wish Foundation. ("It's fun to see the results of what you're doing. It's very rewarding.")
SULLIVAN WALKER (Yale)
Sullivan Walker, a former schoolteacher who now plays a master educator from the future in EARTH 2, learned his most valuable lesson from his family while growing up on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. "They taught me basic values that I still carry with me today," says Walker. "That is, the idea of working hard and doing one's best, believing in your dreams and believing that all things are possible."
Walker's own dreams started to come true in his early 20s. He was born in Success Laventille on Trinidad on a November 20. He studied at the University of the West Indies and taught primary school during the day. As night, he indulged his artistic bent by writing, dancing and studying Caribbean folk life, and remained torn over which career path to follow. In 1968 he created a street character that he performed in a talent contest, earning him third place and an airline ticket to New York.
As much as he enjoyed his native country, Walker's prized airline pass was his ticket to greater opportunity. He stayed in New York to study childhood education at New York University and teach while looking for stage roles. The next year he appeared in "A Season in the Congo" at the Harlem School of Arts. He continued working in regional theater and equity plays and on various tours for the next 15 years or so until he got his first big break, with the Negro Ensemble Company (under founder Douglas Turner Ward). Some of his theater credits include "Master Harold and the Boys," "Two Can Play," "Alterations" and "Dream On Monkey Mountain" (working with Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott). In the recent "Two Trains Running," which was staged on Broadway and in several other venues, he played Hambone.
In 1985 Walker landed a feature film role in "Crocodile Dundee," and appeared last year as a scuba-diving shop owner who assisted Tom Cruise's character in "The Firm." He also co-starred as the family father in the comedy series "Where I Live," which ran from 1993 to 1994. Earlier, he gained recognition for his recurring performance on NBC's "Cosby" as Dr. Harmon, Cosby's competitive best friend. His other TV credits include the movie "Runaway" in 1987.
As Yale, the brainy, reconstituted tutor whose manufactured, multi-faceted left arm is a teaching tool, Walker portrays the last of a dying breed. "He's a man who is trying to reclaim his humanity. He possesses information about life and great books which becomes a burden to him. He's a man of great passion, but there's a kind of sadness about him."
Walker is a strong advocate of educating the public about Caribbean culture, which he hopes will change what he views as stereotypical attitudes about the region. To that end, he co-founded the Caribbean Experience Theater in New York to work with young acting students. Away from the set, he enjoys watching movies, playing soccer, walking, collecting Caribbean art, writing plays and short stories, and spending time with Keela, his 17-year-old daughter ("She's the light of my life"). He resides in Brooklyn, NY.
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