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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 14, 2006

'What About Brian' all about relationships

By Mike Hughes
Gannett News Service

From top, Barry Watson as Brian, Sarah Lancaster as Marjorie and Matthew Davis as Adam.


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9 p.m. Sunday, borrowing the "Grey's Anatomy" slot behind "Desperate Housewives." The next day, it takes its regular slot at 9 p.m. Mondays.


Did you know? The Arquette sisters (Rosanna and Patricia) will be competing against each other on Monday nights. Patricia Arquette's "Medium" airs on NBC. "She'll be watching our show," Rosanna Arquette says, "and I'll be watching hers ... She's my best friend."

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As friends drift into their 30s, TV tells us, they reach a great divide.

There are the couples and the singles. Somehow, each manages to be jealous of the other.

That divide is key to "What About Brian," a new one-hour drama premiering Sunday on ABC.

"Anybody who's single knows that your married friends are always trying to fix you up," says producer Jeff Judah. "Yet ... they're saying, 'I wish I was single.' "

In this case, the focus is on Brian, played by Barry Watson who has had his own real-life highs and lows lately.

He starred in "7th Heaven," was diagnosed four years ago with Hodgkin's disease, and has had successful treatments. Now he's married to actress Tracy Hutson and has a son, almost 2.

"I feel healthier than I ever felt, even before I found out I was sick," Watson says. "I've been about 110 percent for the last two years."

His character has lighter problems than that. Brian's relationships keep falling apart, including one in the opening episode.

"He doesn't just break up with her while he's having lunch," says Dana Stevens, the show's creator. "He breaks up with her when a mattress is falling off his car."

Alongside his chaotic life are semi-stable couples:

  • Adam (Matthew Davis) and his fiancee, Marjorie (Sarah Lancaster). He's a lawyer and Brian's best friend. She's a pediatric surgeon. Brian is trying to suppress the fact that he's in love with her.

  • Nic (Rosanna Arquette) and her husband, Angelo (Raoul Bova). She's a record executive. He's much younger than she is; he's also a model.

  • Dave (Rick Gomez) and his wife, Deena (Amanda Detmer). He's Brian's business partner. She stays at home with their three kids.

    Dave and Brian are opposites at work. "The single guy can dream a little bit," Judah says. "(He) can have bigger ideas. The married guy's like, 'You know what? I've got to pay the mortgage.' "

    Still, no one will envy Brian for long. There are gaps in his life.

    "This character was me like four years ago," says Watson, who is in his second marriage. "(He's) trying to make things work with the wrong person and screwing things up with the right person. I think that's something anyone can relate to."

    The show will offer hints of another ABC classic. "I was a huge fan of 'Thirtysomething,' " Stevens says.

    The difference is that "Brian" has a brighter visual look and more humor. "I think real life is incredibly funny," says Stevens, a former actress who wrote the movies "Blink," "City of Angels" and "For Love of the Game."

    More intriguing, perhaps, are two people doing their first TV series. Arquette, 46, and Bova, 34, play characters who are mismatched in age and experience.

    "She's dealing with having been in a powerful position in her work and is married to a younger, beautiful man," Arquette says.

    Both characters are adjusting, Bova says. "She has more money than him and he is Italian, and so this is sort of a strange thing between them."