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WITH AN EYE ON ... : Corey Parker's flights of comedy earn him frequent laughs on Fox

March 21, 1993|LORI PIKE | Lori Pike is a frequent contributor to Calendar

Work in television is what currently puts meals on Corey Parker's table. He's co-star in the sitcom "Flying Blind," which just finished its debut season on Fox in the rather unfortunate time slot of 10 p.m. Sundays.

Parker plays recent college grad Neil Barash, whose frustrating career meanderings are balanced by an exhilarating whirl of a relationship with Alicia, (Tea Leoni) a leggy redhead with a rosebud mouth and bedroom adventure constantly on her mind.

"I like anything where the creative act is respected. If that's on TV, fine. I don't care where it is," he says.

"But sometimes the process of television is so rushed that it's the antithesis of acting and the creative act. You just do not have time to make choices and try things, and stay in the moment. So you can get a lot of bad habits, because you just get lazy when all you have to do is learn your lines."

The 27-year-old was practically weaned in a theater, and theater acting remains a major love. His mother, actress and acting coach Rocky Parker, raised him in the thick of New York's thespian scene. "It was a very bohemian atmosphere, in Woodstock in the early and mid-'70s," he remembers. "I grew up watching my mother and her friends perform in Brecht and Tom Stoppard productions. They were certainly doing some interesting interpretations of things."

By age 4, Parker was doing commercials. He went on to attend New Yorks's High School of Performing Arts, studied English literature briefly at a university and then quit college to devote himself to acting. He's worked extensively in theater and has studied with such acting teachers as Uta Hagen.

Though Parker appeared in the films "Biloxi Blues" and "How I Got Into College," his breakthrough role was that of Lee, "thirtysomething's" darkly handsome young housepainter-turned-artist who captured the heart of Melissa Steadman. It showed casting directors around town that he could play something other than "nebbishy, bespectacled intellectuals," he says.

He's also proud of a role as the lover of a young man coming to terms with his homosexuality in the controversial PBS drama "The Lost Language of Cranes," which aired last summer. "Just working on that production was a dream," Parker says. "Everyone was really cooperative, and very creative. I liked that piece because something was being shown from a human, compassionate perspective, which normally is not shown at all on TV or in the movies."

Parker's role in "Flying Blind" gives him a chance to show off his physical comedy skills. "I think it's very easy as an actor to become stereotypical if you're always doing these heavy, sensitive roles. I think it's good to be able to laugh at yourself," he says.

And laugh at himself he does. When mention is made of a recent beer commercial in which he appears, Parker deadpans, "I'm very proud of that. That's a work of art for me."

"Flying Blind airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Fox.

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