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WHAT ARE THEY UP TO NOW? : Adam 'Batman' West still wings it when the going gets silly

July 11, 1993|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Adam West became a household name back in 1966 as the dashing Caped Crusader and his alter ego Bruce Wayne in the cult ABC series "Batman." But West confesses that for a long time he had ambivalent feelings toward the Gotham City hero who made him famous.

"I was victimized by the old Hollywood typecasting thing," says West, a youthful 63. "I had to really fight to get out of it, so I was uncomfortable with it."

But his opinion has changed since he's broken out of the Batman mold. Now West "loves" the campy series, which aired on ABC for two seasons and has lived on in more than 102 countries thanks to syndication.

"I think it's fun," he says. "It's become a classic. I see the fun, the entertainment that other people get from it. People come up to me on the street and they play whole scenes for me without my asking."

He has mixed feelings about Tim Burton's two "Batman" features, which starred Michael Keaton as the Winged One. "I saw the first one and part of the second," West says. "I thought for what they were, their own vision of it, they were really well done."

However, West quickly adds, "it certainly wasn't our interpretation of it. Ours was lighthearted, hopefully witty and silly and zany. It was a disappointment because it wasn't our Batman as people know and seem to want to see, at least as reflected in my travels and in my mail. I just hope that they will lighten up with the next one and not make it quite as kinky!"

This summer, West is starring in the new series "Danger Theatre," premiering Sunday on Fox. Hosted by Robert Vaughn, "Danger Theatre" satirizes such action shows as "Hawaii Five-O," "Knight Rider" and "Miami Vice." West stars in the spoof "Tropical Punch," as Capt. Mike Morgan, a tough-as-nails police chief who is a bumbling idiot.

"It's really zany," West says, adding that it's a real art to acting silly. "If I am playing, as I am in 'Tropical Punch,' a semi-crazed rogue cop, I can get away with a lot. I can really push it to the very edge, but there's a point you can't go beyond."

Later this year, moviegoers can see West in a dramatic turn as a negligent father in "The New Age," written and directed by Michael Tolkin of "The Player" fame. He's also working with Carol Burnett on a "prototype" for a possible CBS series. "'If she really likes it, it will probably go as a series," West says. "It's a kind of a bittersweet thing. It's definitely funny, but has some lovely moments."

West kiddingly says he doesn't care if he does comedy or drama. "Just pay me," he jokes. "But I got to confess I really do enjoy comedy. I have a gift for it."

"Danger Theatre" premieres Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on Fox.

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