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Danza trades nice-guy image for 'Deadly' dad [ - ]
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Author: Harvey Solomon
Source: Boston Herald, The
Date | Issue: 05/07/1995 | NA p.16
Topic: Tony Danza
Submitted by: mich_l81

Danza trades nice-guy image for 'Deadly' dad

By Harvey Solomon

She was daddy's little girl. Until she grew up, moved out and started dating one of her father's employees -- a married man. Then she disappeared and was later found murdered. That's when daddy became a prime suspect.

Tony Danza, in a role far removed from his familiar sitcom stints, stars in Wednesday's CBS movie "Deadly Whispers" as the man accused of murdering his eldest daughter, played by Heather Tom (an Emmy winner for her role in the soap "The Young and the Restless").

"I could do Tony Micelli (from 'Who's the Boss')," said Danza. "And people say to me, 'Are you acting up there or are you just being yourself?' I tell them, 'Well, it's me in a good mood.' You know, you've got to able to try to do other things."

So when the script for "Deadly Whispers" came his way, the Brooklyn native liked the change of pace and signed on.

The only catch was, executive producer Leonard Hill hadn't wanted to send Danza the script in the first place. But CBS, which had committed to airing the movie, insisted.

"When we sent the script to Tony, actually, we did it under duress," admits Hill, a made-for-TV movie mogul with more than 40 movies and miniseries to his credit, including "Justice in a Small Town," "I Can Make You Love Me," "The Long Hot Summer" and "In the Deep Woods."

"TV movies (are) a form I think is terribly maligned when you look at the bulk of work over the last 20 years. One of the reasons I think it's unfairly maligned is the range of characterization. It forces actors to take on very challenging parts in extraordinarily limited periods of time."

"Deadly Whispers" is based on a book of the same title by author Ted Schwartz that retells a real-life story. Pamela Reed ("Junior," "Kindergarten Cop") plays Danza's wife, who comes to learn her spouse has a dark, previously hidden side. Ving Rhames ("Kiss of Death," "Pulp Fiction") plays the detective leading the investigation.

"We did this movie in 18 days," said Hill. "To work at that pace -- we're shooting out of sequence, where you don't have a chance to go back and do re-shoots two months after the film wraps, as features would. I think it's a real tribute to the craftsmanship and the guts that a lot of the performers take."

"Deadly Whispers" was Danza's first project after a serious skiing accident in Utah in December 1993. Hitting a tree at 50 m.p.h., he broke his back and suffered other injuries, with a resulting long period of recuperation and rehabilitation. The actor-producer, who turned 44 last month, has since returned to work with a vengeance.

"I've got a new motto," he said, "since I've been hurt -- if it doesn't really scare me, I really don't want to do it."

Now, other than setting off metal detectors at airports and stores, things are pretty much back to normal.

In fact, Danza is plotting a return to sitcoms, where he scored with the successful "Taxi" (which ran five years) and resurfaced a year later with "Who's the Boss?" (eight years). He also produced the short-lived sitcom "George" that starred boxer Geroge Forman.

Through his independent production company, Katie Face, Danza is developing an ABC sitcom pilot for next season in which he stars as a cop who's also a single dad.

So, he may not have a screen wife again soon, he had kind words for the actress who played that part in "Deadly Whispers."

"Pamela was really incredible to work with," he said. "She's something else. She sort of reminds me of a female me in a bad mood -- but that's another story."