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From Hooterville to Australia : Eddie Albert's 'Time Trax' sends him Down Under with his son

March 28, 1993|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Eddie Albert of "Green Acres" fame and his son, Edward Albert, recently teamed up to guest-star on the syndicated sci-fi series "Time Trax." That episode, in which Albert plays the good guy and his son plays the villain, airs this week.

"The bad guy gets all the best lines," Albert says, laughing. "I was so envious of his lines because I thought the good guy was kind of boring. I love (to play) villains. (I played one) in that Burt Reynolds' film, 'The Longest Yard.' I was real mean. I love that."

Though set in America, "Time Trax" actually is shot in Australia. "That's a long way from here," says Albert. "I enjoyed (it) very much. Particularly, because I was there with my son."

Albert loves working with his son, but admits it's difficult to find projects together. "It's not easy to swing those things," says Albert, who plays a crusty hotel owner in the episode. When the role came up, Albert said, "(My son) said, 'My dad is really made for that.' The rest, of course, is theatrical history."

He found the plot of "Time Trax" a tad confusing. "I was a little puzzled," Albert says. "In 'Time Trax,' some people are living in the future and some are not, and it is hard to keep track of them. I am current, but my son is from 1,000 years ago or somewhere in the future."

An actor for nearly six decades, Albert has starred in numerous feature films, including "Brother Rat," "Carrie" and "The Joker Is Wild." He received best supporting Oscar nominations for "Roman Holiday" and "The Heartbreak Kid." But he's best known for the 1965-71 CBS comedy series "Green Acres." Albert played New York attorney Oliver Wendell Douglas, who gave up his practice and moved with his socialite wife Lisa (Eva Gabor) to a farm in the bizarre little town of Hooterville--the same burg in which CBS' "Petticoat Junction" was located. One of the Douglases' zany neighbors included pig farmer Fred Ziffel (Hank Patterson), whose pet pig Arnold loved to watch television.

"Green Acres" is still enormously popular around the world in repeats. "It has become a cult in the universities because the young people discover it is a lot deeper," Albert says. "It is not just a farm story. It is not really an agricultural story. It is a marvelous exhibition of the very, very old problem, which is the fish out of water."

Oliver, Albert explains, was the fish from New York "who is surrounded by sharks. Everybody identified with me. I talked to this professor and he said that students see (in the series) the deep attention to comedy that you find in (Jonathan) Swift and Voltaire."

In 1971, CBS decided to change its image and pulled the plug on all of its "rural" comedies, including "Green Acres," "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Mayberry R.F.D."

Albert is still miffed about the cancellation. "We were a marvelous comedy of beautiful writing," he says. "The pig made people who owned the network think it was a pig show!"

In 1990, the cast of "Green Acres" reunited for the CBS movie "Return to Green Acres." "It was just ghastly," Albert admits. "The writers didn't have the faintest idea of what this story was about. They just killed it."

"Time Trax" airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. (repeats Sundays at 9 p.m.) on KCOP and Saturdays at 5 p.m. on XETV; repeats of "Green Acres" air weekdays at 3:30 p.m. on KDOC.

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