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T.J. HOOKER PRESSROOM : TEEN MAGAZINE - ZMED INTERVIEW


Adrian Zmed: Capturing Criminals and Fans
by Suzanne Murphy.
Full Text: ©Petersen Publishing Company 1984
Teen Magazine, Jan 1984 v28 p37(2)

Patrolling city streets, apprehending criminals and taking part in high-speed car chases are all in a day's work for acting newcomer Adrian Zmed. In his role as rookie cop Vinnie Romano on TV's "T.J. Hooker," Adrian stars opposite veteran actor William Shatner and TV's latest beauty, Heather Locklear. This hit series has made 28-year-old Adrian one of the most popular faces on television this season.

Adrian finds it ironic that he's playing the role of a police officer because as a teenager he and the law were not always on the best of terms. "Frankly, I was scared of the police," Adrian admits today. "I had hair down to my shoulders. I was in a rock band and I really did look like the type that should be pulled over. It got so bad that when I would see a patrol car in the rear-view mirror, I knew that was it and I'd just pull over automatically, even before its lights went on." When Adrian got the role of Romano, he decided to investigate law enforcement from the other side of the badge. He began researching his part by visiting the Los Angeles Police Academy, talking to rookie officers and riding with police on nightly patrols around the city.

"What I got from those experiences was a whole different way of looking at police. I began to understand that if they have an authoritarian manner, it's because they have to put their lives on the line so much," explains Adrian. Adrian, a first generation American, was born and raised in Chicago, the youngest son of a Romanian Orthodox priest. Growing up under the watchful eye of a man of the cloth wasn't always an easy task for an energetic youngster like himself, recalls Adrian. "You're the first family of the church and you have to be a role model," he explains. "Other kids always expected a certain holiness from me--a goody-two-shoes kind of behavior-- and if I ever did do anything that was a little out of line, they'd threaten to tell my father."

Adrian's father was set on his son becoming a priest. What he didn't realize, though, was that as early as the third grade, Adrian was already dreaming of becoming an entertainer. Sunday service duties as a cantor in his father's church only strengthened that desire.

In high school, however, Adrian's prowess in football earned him a position as team halfback and a career in athletics seemed imminent. Then a near-crippling accident sidelined him for good.

"It was a serious injury," remembers Adrian. "The bone was sticking into the main artery and the doctors were considering amputation." Luckily, the physicians opted to set the leg instead of amputating, though this procedure still left the young athlete crippled for several years. Adrian lost his chance for an athletic career as a result of the ordeal, he says, but gained a special new love, the theater.

Permanently benched from sports, Adrian found an outlet for his creative energies in high school plays, landing a part in "Guys And Dolls," after only one audition. "What I had learned through the church helped a lot when I got that part," he notes. "I was a step ahead of the others." The following year Adrian was selected as one of Chicago's top high school performers and showcased on a local TV show. "That clinched it for me as far as what I wanted to do with my life," he says smiling.

After some fast talking, Adrian convinced his father that enrollment in Chicago's famed Goodman School of Drama was the right move. He also studied voice at the Chicago Conservatory of Music and the preparation served him well. A short time after, he won the lead in the national touring company of "Grease" and later played the role of Danny Zuko on Broadway.

Numerous appearances on television followed, including spots on "The Goodtime Girls" and "Starsky And Hutch," plus one of the lead parts in the movie musical "Grease 2." "After playing so many misfits," says Adrian recalling his past roles, "I'm enjoying the part of Vinnie Romano. It's the first character that I've played that is on the right side of the law, although Vinnie in his way is a bit of a misfit too. His ways are a little unorthodox and he tends to get a little bit emotional." Adrian's having a lot of fun in his current role. "In a way," adds Adrian, "we [William Shatner and Adrian] are like two 12-year-olds playing cops and robbers, vaulting fences, crashing cars and jumping on criminals. We're having a blast!" Today, securely ensconsed in the role of Romano, you would think Adrian Zmed might rest a bit on his laurels, but that's not the case. Besides his weekly series, Adrian is working on a three-picture deal with Paramount and also commutes to a Hollywood recording studio from his Studio City, Calif. home to add the finishing touches on a rock album to be released this spring.

The album will feature a "hard metal, Pat Benatar sound," according to the actor/singer who will take to the road in 1984 to promote it. Also on tap for early spring release is a new movie, "Bachelor Party," the story of a young man (played by Adrian) who throws a wild farwell bash for his soon-to-be-wedded best friend.

The remainder of his leisure time is spent with wife and high-school sweetheart, Barbara, 1-year-old son, Zackary, and their English setter, Jason. Jason is an extraspecial dog since he was a gift from actor pal John Travolta. Spare time is at a premium for Adrian, especially since his appointment to the board of the National Council on Alcoholism this year. It's a position he takes seriously, especially where it concerns teenagers. "Drinking is the number-one drug problem among teenagers," notes Adrian. "Six out of 10 teenagers' deaths involve alcohol and most of that involves driving." Television, he says, has traditionally tended to glorify the use of alcohol, so he's especially proud of a recent "T.J. Hooker' episode that dealt realistically with the potentially tragic results of teen alcohol abuse and driving. "As a result of that show," he notes proudly, "I've received hundreds of letters from teenagers saying it's had a positive impact on them."

Adrian says that as a teen, he too, was surrounded by the social pressures to use drugs. "I was in the middle of it in high school and growing up and I'm in the middle of it now in Hollywood, so I can relate to what teens are going through," comments Adrian. "But I tell them that alcohol and drugs are for losers. If at any time in my life I had reverted to alcohol or other drugs as a way of solving my problems or frustrations, I wouldn't be talking to them at this time. I wouldn't have achieved what I have so far. If there is a secret to a successful life, I think it lies in staying involved, active and connected to people."





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