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FOCUS : Oceans of Kate : Jackson's Career Is Sailing With CBS' 'Adrift' and a Series Pilot


Kate Jackson is in a New Zealand state of mind.

The former "Charlie's Angel" spent six weeks in the land Down Under late last year filming the CBS thriller "Adrift," which premieres Tuesday. Though she's been back in Los Angeles for nearly three months, Jackson can't stop talking about her experiences in Gisborne, New Zealand.

"I have to tell you this because I love this story," Jackson says, sipping a cup of coffee in the living room of her Malibu Colony home.

Gisborne is called "the first city of the sun," she says. "When the sun rises, the first rays of the sun hit the Earth in Gisborne, and it marks the new day for the whole rest of the world."

Care packages from Gisborne are always arriving at Jackson's house these days, from ginger biscuits to various knickknacks.

"These are from friends I made there," Jackson says, showing off a wooden plate and tiny wooden container. "Two families, a woman and her family, and her mother and father, who ran the Whispering Sands Motel. It was on the ocean, but back from the ocean. The weather was incredible."

Make that freezing. Jackson was told it would be summer and brought only shorts and T-shirts. "It was just barely spring," she says, laughing. "It was wild and it was windy and it rained. It was unbelievable."

Living by the ocean in New Zealand, she never felt healthier. "I woke up at the ocean every day and my head was clear. I had no sinuses. I just felt like a million dollars."

So when Jackson came back to Los Angeles, she and her husband, businessman Tim Hart, who were living in Brentwood, decided to move to the beach. "We saw this ad in the paper for this place and leased it to see if it makes a difference," she says.

Though she's only been in her new digs for a week, she already feels the difference. "I went to bed at 8 last night and slept until 8," Jackson says. 'I took a real long walk on the beach (last night) with the dog and threw the stick."

In "Adrift," Jackson plays Katie Nast, a married attorney who recently had an extramarital affair. In order to rekindle the spark in her marriage, she and her husband (Kenneth Welsh) decide to set sail across the Pacific Ocean for three months.

One day, they come across a disabled boat with two people aboard (Bruce Greenwood and Kelly Rowan) who are starving and near death. When the Nasts rescue the couple, strange things begin to happen.

"When we were in Gisborne, we were (shooting) the exteriors on a boat 59 feet long," Jackson recalls.

"We would go out in the morning when the sun came up and would come back at night when the sun would come down around 9:30 at night. It was unbelievable."

The lithe actress went into training for her part. "I worked out really hard so I could hoist the sail," she says. "When it came time to do the scuba part, I could say, 'I can do that. I can swim. I can do this. I can do that.' I got to do all of those wonderful things."

Filming on a boat in turbulent waters was difficult. Jackson credits her director, Christian Duguay, for making the production run as smoothly as it did. "He had every shot in his head," Jackson says. "He is one of the top five Steadicam operators in the world. He would strap on that Steadicam and we would be doing scenes."

Jackson recalls dolphins swimming alongside the dinghy used in several scenes. "They have to turn their heads to look at you," she says. "I had this dolphin cry, this little high voice you'd try to make. The baby dolphin would jump up and look at us. One day, I was way in the back on the bow of the boat and I was pulling the dinghy in. I had my hands right here (above the water) and a Shamu, a black-and-white baby killer (whale) was right underneath me. I was trying to touch it, but it sailed on past. It was beautiful."

As a youngster, the Alabama native would go sailing with her father. "I knew if he were alive, he would enjoy the experience so much," she says.

Jackson's next project "Arly Hanks," a pilot for CBS, takes her to Atlanta. "It's kind of like 'Picket Fences' and 'Northern Exposure,' " she explains. "It takes place in Arkansas. (My character has) been in New York living with my husband who ran off with a foot model. So I've gone back to Arkansas where my mother and this whole cast of characters live. I am the sheriff, entry-level position. It's an ensemble piece, so, hopefully, I won't have to be standing in front of the camera for it to turn."

Jackson has received many offers to do series, but was real "gun shy" after the failure of her last, NBC's 1988 comedy "Baby Boom." Her previous series, "Dark Shadows," "The Rookies," "Charlie's Angels" and "Scarecrow and Mrs. King," were hits.

"I am comfortable (doing a series)," Jackson says. "I have done it for so long. I just know how to do it. I like to have that structure in my life."

"Adrift" airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CBS; repeats of "Charlie's Angels" air weekdays at 8 a.m. on TNT; "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" airs weeknights at 11 on the Family Channel.

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