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Action aired from September 1999 until December 1999 on FOX.

One of television's periodic attempts to build a comedy around a thoroughly despicable leading character, Action delighted critics but turned off audiences during its short run in 1999. Peter ( Jay Mohr), the head of DragonFire films, was an obnoxious, morally corrupt Hollywood producer. Suave and self assured, he insulted everyone and laced his language with obscenities-the more vulger ones were bleeped out, while the mild ones were left in. Sex and backstabbing were everywhere. Not surprisingly, each episode opened with the disclaimer, " Portions of Action may be inappropriate for younger viewers."

Peter's arrogance seldom got him what he wanted. As the series opened, his latest release slow torture, was proving to be a $150 million bomb. Wendy( Illeana Douglas) was a former tv child star who was now a high-class hooker, and who so impressed Peter with her honesty and film instincts that he gave her a development job with the studio. Also seen regularly were Stuart( Jack Plotnick), Peter's well meaning but incompetent head of production; Uncle Lonnie( Buddy Hackett) his cheerful limo driver; Adam( Jarrad Paul), the former tv writer whose script was going to be made into DragonFire's big summer movie, Beverly Hills Gunclub; and Bobby( Lee Arenberg), the billionaire studio owner who had married Peter's former wife Jane( Cindy Ambuehl). The gay and well-endowed Bobby often called meetings when he was naked so that he could cow his underlings with " the magic of his organ."

Among the real stars appearing as themselves on this wild parody of Hollywood were Keanu Reeves, salma Hayek, Sandra Bullock( who beat Peter up after she discovered he was selling nude videos of her), David Hasselhoff ( taking bids on himself at a charity auction), and Scott Wolf ( who was told he too short for the movie role he was pitching).

Action was pulled from the FOX schedule with 5 episodes still unaired, these appeared the following summer on the FX cable network. During the course of these episodes, Peter had a heart attack and was pronounced dead, but miraculously recovered and returned to his ruthless ways.

An Article From Time Magazine

Mirror Images
Monday, Aug. 16, 1999


A measure of great art is how it sheds light on the existential burdens shared by all humankind. For instance, the deep pain you suffer when someone swipes your reserved space in the studio parking lot. That this particular human tragedy surfaces in two new series--Showtime's Beggars and Choosers and Fox's forthcoming Action--is emblematic of Hollywood's new favorite subject: itself.

"Our business interests everyone," says Action executive producer Joel Silver. "Everyone has two businesses--their own and show." On that assumption, a slew of new, recent and planned programs is offering behind-the-scenes takes on TV (Beggars, ABC's Sports Night, and Kilroy, a sitcom George Clooney is developing for HBO) and the movies (Action, the WB's new Movie Stars and AMC's mini-series The Lot, premiering Aug. 19 and 20). In an ingenious stunt-casting move, ABC's It's Like, You Know... features former Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey as--former Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey.

If this is industry self-love, though, it's tough love. While TV has turned the camera on itself from The Dick Van Dyke Show to The Larry Sanders Show, the current mirror gazing is not just more insider-oriented but harsher. Rob Petrie's foibles were along the lines of tripping over the ottoman, not buying a $250,000 screenplay from "the wrong Jew" in a case of mistaken identity, as Jay Mohr's smarmily obnoxious producer, Peter Dragon, does in Action's pilot. Beggars, a sharp satire set at the fictional bottom-tier network LGT, updates Network for broadcast's era of decline. Action and Beggars compare show business, unfavorably, with prostitution and the Mob. Meanwhile, the clever but self-important Sports Night treats its topic with the laugh track-eschewing gravity of M*A*S*H--though one rarely bleeds to death on a sportscast. The one exception to this self-flagellating trend is the tepid family sitcom Movie Stars. It's Growing Pains with agents.

Narcissistic or not, the shows raise obvious Peoria-play questions. Movie Stars had a relatively strong start amid weak summer competition, while Beggars' ratings have not taken off, despite fairly positive reviews. Action, however, will prove a big test. It's got notice for bringing pay cable's profanity to broadcast, but another risky import is the deep-insider view that worked for Larry Sanders' select, limited audience. (Creator and executive producer Chris Thompson, who was executive producer of Sanders, originally intended Action for HBO.) While Action could be the best fall comedy in an anemic field, and Mohr plays Dragon with an intriguingly baby-faced venom, looming over the show is the ghost of the short-lived Buffalo Bill (1983-84), which also portrayed a loathsome media figure (Dabney Coleman as a TV talk-show host). But today's fans, who can spout weekend box-office grosses like football scores, fancy themselves insiders, fascinated with and cynical about media. Action, says Thompson, will appeal by "confirming America's worst fears that people in show business are the crass and venal destroyers of the culture and consumed by self-interest."

Which may be just what we want to hear. In essence, these shows say about the famous what soap operas say about the rich--that they're no better than we are, probably less happy, possibly less moral. Audiences today have a love-to-hate relationship with Hollywood and the media; we've supported Beavis and Butt-head's meta-media sarcasm and David Letterman's roasting of TV bigs. It's a short step from a late-night joke about CBS chief Les Moonves to the name dropping that has become easy punch-line fodder on even bland fare like Movie Stars ("Any movie where you throw Jeff Goldblum down a flight of stairs is a good movie"). These references flatter us by confirming that we're the sort of hipsters who would knowingly chuckle at them, that we're the quality audience for quality shows, unlike Hollywood's ordinary pap--an argument tailored to the upscale demographics that programmers covet. What's more, insiderism appeals to, well, insiders, which means attention from colleagues and critics. In its newfound introspection, Hollywood may be talking to itself. The question is whether the rest of us will listen.

--With reporting by Jeanne McDowell/Los Angeles

Here's an article from the New York Daily News



Thursday, September 16th 1999, 8:27AM

Between takes on the controversial Fox comedy series "Action," Jay Mohr is cracking up his co-stars with dirty jokes.

In a strangely appropriate moment of life imitating art, the former member of "Saturday Night Live" who stars in this highly anticipated new show in which almost half the bleeping dialogue is bleeped out is holding up shooting by improvising porn-film titles.

"I had 'Invasion of the Booty Snatchers,' " Mohr says proudly from his Hollywood trailer. And he follows that up with a pun on "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" involving female anatomy.

Mohr, a former standup comic whose most high-profile moment was as the ruthless sports agent opposite Tom Cruise in "Jerry Maguire," tries to keep things light on the set of this over-the-top Hollywood satire, premiering tonight on Fox at 9 p.m. and co-starring Buddy Hackett and Illeana Douglas.

"I like to joke around with the crew," the 29-year-old Verona, N.J., native says. "I like it when it's a really light set, and no one takes it too seriously.

"I mean, we're not making 'Schindler's List' here. There's no reason we can't all just hit our marks, say our lines, but in the meantime, have a blast."

That doesn't mean he's not taking his starring role on "Action" seriously.

"If you're late, and you're lackadaisical, and you're not coming out of your trailer on time," Mohr says, "everyone's kind of going to fall into line behind you. So I kind of take pride in being on time, and going over to the other actors' houses to run lines the night before just trying to lead by example.

"It's all stuff I basically learned from Cruise" on the "Maguire" set, he continues. "He's a remarkable man. Probably, like, the most special man I've ever met in my life."

Mohr also has learned valuable lessons from less impressive sources. Like TV shows that failed Mohr was a cast member of "Camp Wilder," an ABC sitcom that flopped after 20 episodes ("I bought a Rolex") or movies where the cast members didn't really click.

"Every actor's been on the set where there's an inordinate lack of chemistry," Mohr says. "Illeana and I worked on a film together where there was a bad vibe going around, but I won't mention the name."

(He doesn't have to; the only film listed on both their rsums is "Picture Perfect," starring Jennifer Aniston.)

"I've been in the business 15 years," Mohr says with more self-deprecation than pride, "and I've bought a watch, a car and a house."

That's why he's treasuring this new "Action" experience so much. He's working with Hackett, one of his comic idols; working on a show he likes ("Let's be honest; if this was a Must-See TV show, or one of those cookie-cutter wacky neighbor parts, I'd be miserable"), and working for executive producers Chris Thompson and Joel Silver.

Mohr was offered the job, he says, when powerful movie producer Silver called him into the office and told him he had to play the part of powerful movie producer Peter Dragon. Mohr, with three independent films about to be released (including the frenetic, exciting "Go"), wasn't interested in doing TV, but Silver was insistent.

In fact, he was insistent in a fashion right in keeping with the raw language of "Action."

Mohr laughs. "Joel said to me, 'What do you want to be, Parker Posey your whole life?' That's an actual quote."

After turning it down "about 10 times," Mohr returned to his Los Angeles home and thought it over.

"Life's all about opportunities," Mohr says, "and I was lying in bed with my wife and we were talking about it, and I said, 'Who am I to turn this down?' "

So starting this week, he finds himself competing directly against NBC's "Frasier," TV's most popular sitcom on TV's most popular night.

"I think it's great counter-programming," Mohr says confidently. "You want to beat the best. It's like Yankees-Braves in '96.[MUST-SEE TV]"

And while Mohr's razor-sharp acting is a large part of what makes "Action" so enjoyable, he calls himself a comic, first and foremost.

"If you're a comic, you're always a comic," says the man who still heads straight for comedy club stages whenever he hits New York. "It's something you're born with.

"There was about a three-year period where I didn't tell anybody, in any interview, that I was a comic, and we kind of buried it and swept it under the rug. Because I wanted to be known as an actor. But now I'm realizing I find a lot more happiness in just being honest with who I am.

"I'm a punk from New Jersey who's a comic. When I hit the set, I play make-believe when they say action."

Or, in this case, "Action."

A Review from The New York Times

TELEVISION REVIEW; Forget the Good Guy. It's a Hollywood Satire, and It's Out for Shock.


Six words are bleeped within the first two minutes of ''Action,'' as if to say, ''There, that's out of the way.'' The well-orchestrated hype about Fox's new inside-Hollywood comedy has made bleeped language its trademark even before tonight's premiere. ''Action'' is calculated to shock, with its world of Hollywood hookers and words banned from prime time. But it won't take long before viewers recognize ''bleep'' as the minor, attention-getting ploy it is.

The show is truly subversive and daring in its scabrous attitude. Its central character is Peter Dragon, a producer who understands that his grand success exists in direct proportion to his ruthlessness. He seems to come by his savage attitude naturally.

Peter begins by swerving into the parking place reserved for ''Employee of the Month,'' and berating poor little Manny Sanchez, the commissary waiter whose space he has stolen. ''I'm employee of the (bleep) century,'' Peter shouts, with the arrogance and barely hidden insecurity of someone who is always one flop away from disaster.

From that first scene, ''Action'' violates the rule that a series needs a good guy. Instead, it builds its appeal on the flattering idea that viewers understand the importance of parking spaces, that they get the Hollywood jokes. Peter may not be lovable, but the audience is encouraged to identify with him; the alternative is being Manny, and who wants that?

Its riskiness makes ''Action'' more appealing than one more bland, even-keel sitcom would have been. Still, it is sometimes easier to admire the show's daring than to laugh at its jokes. ''Action'' has been compared to ''South Park'' for its adolescent humor and dialogue, but it most resembles that cartoon in its unevenness. Veering wildly between laser-like satire and disappointingly obvious sex jokes, ''Action'' is full of dull stretches followed by an occasional explosion of howlingly funny comedy.

The show is funniest when it stays closest to plausibility. This is Hollywood, so plausible leaves plenty of room for the outrageous. In the premiere's one hysterical episode, Peter is talking to an agent whose client has a slight image problem. Peter sputters when he realizes, ''You're pitching me O. J. Simpson.'' (Does anyone doubt that ''Action'' is speculating on the inevitable here?)

Jay Mohr is despicably good as Peter, especially when he sarcastically tells the agent that his client towers over other actors. ''Tom Hanks is unwilling to go that extra mile and hack his wife to death,'' he shrieks.

Mr. Mohr doesn't have to make Peter likable because, in another of the show's clever dark moves, his victims are usually more annoying than he is. Peter is vile to a writer who has been hired by mistake. (In a line bluntly determined to shock, he screams at the man who signed Adam Rafkin instead of Alan Rifkin, ''We got the wrong Jew.'') But then Rafkin is such a dweeb. Hanging around Peter's office like a puppy, begging for an invitation to a movie premiere, he is almost begging to be kicked.

The film he wants to see is Peter's latest, a violent action flick called ''Slow Torture'' (the kind that Joel Silver, an executive producer of ''Action'' and the producer of ''The Matrix,'' might recognize). Peter is driven there by his uncle and chauffeur, played by Buddy Hackett. And on the way they encounter the show's biggest problem, Wendy Ward.

Walking the streets looking for business, Wendy (Illeana Douglas) gets her fur coat caught in the door of Peter's limo and rides along stuck to the side like a Garfield toy. When the car stops she tumbles out, legs splayed. She is that oldest of cliches, a whore with a heart of gold. Wendy represents what is weakest about ''Action'': the indulgence in broad physical humor and the too-obvious sex jokes. But it is a deft touch that she was once a child star; that's what happens to has-been children.

Cheap laughs may be the show's insurance policy, its grip on the ''South Park'' audience. It is hard to see whether ''Action'' will develop its smartest or its lowest strand of humor. (A second episode, not available in advance, will follow tonight.) Even if it continues to ricochet between high and low, it should find a grown-up audience among those weary of unadventurous, goody-goody sitcoms.

''Action'' is one of the shows that Senator Joseph I. Lieberman and William J. Bennett cited the other day when giving Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox's parent company, their Silver Sewer Award for, they claim, mucking up social values. Their chilling implication that Hollywood should make room only for homogenized, wholesome products is almost reason enough to watch in protest. A better, more entertaining reason is the show's refreshingly frank, scalding view of human nature. ''Action'' earns its MA rating (for adult audiences), but that's what ratings are for.

To read an article about Action go to

To watch some clips of Action go to

For Tim's TV Showcase go to

For an article on Action go to

To see How Action Predicted Weinstein and the Hollywood Silence Breakers go to

For Jay Mohr's Official Website go to

To watch the opening credits go to
Date: Thu January 19, 2006 � Filesize: 28.1kb � Dimensions: 300 x 373 �
Keywords: Action: Cast Photo ( Links Updated 7/23/18)


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