Drama 'The Guardian' finds right chemistry for viewers

Monday, November 26, 2001

LOS ANGELES -- In CBS' new drama "The Guardian," there's on-screen chemistry between Simon Baker, who stars as troubled attorney Nick Fallin, and Dabney Coleman as his crusty father.

There's chemistry as well between Baker and Alan Rosenberg, who plays the tough director of the child-advocacy office where Fallin must perform community service after a drug arrest.

The potent cast has helped make "The Guardian" the highest-rated new drama this season -- in a competitive 8 p.m. Tuesday time slot. It has averaged 14.3 million viewers weekly against NBC's "Frasier" and ABC's "NYPD Blue." It has even managed to outdraw Fox's much-hyped new drama "24."

Off-screen, there's equally important combustion involving Baker, series creator David Hollander and executive producer Michael Pressman, the diverse trio shaping the drama.

Baker, 32, is an Australian with international film credits (including "L.A. Confidential" and the new "The Affair of the Necklace" with Hilary Swank).

Hollander, 33, is a TV novice, a playwright and screenwriter who shifted his focus because he had an idea that was better suited to the small screen's extended storytelling.

Pressman, 51, is a series veteran, a director and producer whose work includes the prestige David E. Kelley dramas "Chicago Hope" and "Picket Fences" as well as TV and feature films.

"The way I write the show, the way Simon acts, the way Michael Pressman oversees the direction of it," said Hollander, "we're really a small band of three guys that are sitting down every day and responding to each other."

The pilot for "The Guardian" was the first work Hollander had done for TV.

"I wanted to write about a flawed character that wasn't going to redeem himself instantly, that would change by degrees, and that those degrees would be measured over time and not by one event," said Hollander, who also serves as executive producer.

"The Guardian" turned out to be first pilot script Baker read when he decided to give TV a try. A husband and father of three, he was looking for more stability than movie work offered.

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