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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Prankster keeps cast mates on toes

 •  'Flight 29 Down' actor eager to grow, but not to age
 •  Destination theater for 'Flight 29' actress
 •  Youngest castaway upbeat about 'Down' role

By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

JEREMY JAMES KISSNER

Age: 20

Hometown: Minneapolis

Previous work: "ER," "Funky Monkey," "Artificial Intelligence: AI," "Touched by an Angel," "Melrose Place," "Great Expectations"

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PROFILES

Sunday: Allen Alvarado ("Lex")

Monday: Hallee Hirsh ("Daley")

Yesterday: Johnny Pacar ("Jackson")

Today: Jeremy James Kissner ("Eric")

Tomorrow: Kristy Wu ("Melissa")

Friday: Corbin Bleu ("Nathan") and Lauren Storm ("Taylor")

Sunday: Tani Lynn Fujimoto ("Abby")

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CONTEST

Win a visit to the set of "Flight 29 Down": The stranded survivors of "Flight 29 Down" are saving a space around the campfire for you and three of your closest friends or family members. One lucky family or group of friends will win the chance to spend a day behind the scenes of Discovery Kids' top-ranked show, and hang out with the cast and crew over lunch (no rations, we promise).

Just answer the three easy questions below and send your responses to: Flight 29 Down Contest, The Honolulu Advertiser, 605 Kapi'olani Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96813. Or entries may be sent to: islandlife@honoluluadvertiser.com (put "Flight 29 Down Contest" in subject line). Include your full name, address, telephone number and e-mail address.

Entries are due Feb. 22. The winning entry will be selected later that week; the visit may be scheduled any weekday between March 1 and 17.

Questions

1. How many actors from Hawai'i were seen in the first season of "Flight 29 Down"?

2. Where was Flight 29 headed when it was forced down in a storm?

3. What shellfish did the group eat to keep from starving?

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It's a lesson his "Flight 29 Down" cast mates had to learn the hard way: Don't sleep around Jeremy James Kissner.

"Kristy (Wu) is a deep sleeper," says Kissner, who plays the sockable conniver Eric on the teen adventure show. "When she sleeps on the set, I put sticks and stuff all over her."

Kissner may be a prankster, but he takes his work seriously. In the show's first season of filming, he had already scouted the vulnerabilities of cast mates Lauren Storm (also a "deep sleeper"), Allen Alvarado ("too smart"), Halle Hirsh ("hard to get she wakes up") and Johnny Pacar (him, too).

Kissner, who has been acting for more than half of his 20 years, seems to relish his on- and off-screen role as ironic counterpoint to his role-model co-stars France to the show's collection of upstanding all-Americans.

And he can't resist throwing in an affectionate tweak at his pals as he distinguishes his own unique personality. The cast spends a good chunk of downtime at the show's North Shore apartment complex watching "The Family Guy."

Kissner?

"I've seen every one already," he sniffs. "I stay up really late watching Comedy Central because that's when 'South Park' is on.

"I like 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' and 'Ali G.' I watch the Cartoon Network a lot, too. Like, 'Aqua Teen Hunger Force.' "

Kissner's apartment in the de-facto dorm is on the same floor as older cast mates Wu and Pacar, two avowed decaf drinkers.

"I," Kissner says with mock disdain, "like to drink real coffee."

To his cast mates, Kissner is as lovable as his on-screen character is loathsome, and it's a credit to his abilities as an actor that he is able to massage aspects of his natural dry wit into Eric's wormy, teenage petulance.

Off camera, the actor delivers insightful and straightforward opinions with a bemusement that hints at some sort of hugely amusing inside joke.

"I just show up and do my job," he says. "I'm surprised I'm on a TV show."

For Kissner, the three months in Hawai'i it takes to shoot a full season of half-hour shows is a welcome respite from the thick air and airs of Hollywood.

"It's a lot nicer than L.A.," Kissner says of Hawai'i. "There are not a lot of snotty, stuck-up people like there are in L.A."

Kissner, a Minneapolis native, got his start by taking acting classes and modeling, appearing in advertisements for companies like Target and Best Buy.

After being discovered at a New York talent convention, Kissner landed a role as 10-year-old Finnegan Bell in the 1998 film adaptation of "Great Expectations" starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke.

From there came a move to California and work in TV and film, including the 2004 Matthew Modine movie "Funky Monkey," which found Kissner at a state of heightened career awareness.

"I kissed a monkey," he said. "I got kind of weirded out by that. Like, what's happening?"

"Flight 29 Down" is Kissner's first turn as a regular on a TV series.

He had initially auditioned for the role of Nathan, which eventually went to Corbin Bleu, before landing the part of Eric.

"I sucked completely at that," Kissner says. "Then I auditioned for Eric, and I guess I did better."

Like several of his cast mates, Kissner is a student of the set. He pays close attention to the nuances of production in hopes that it will help him bring his own projects to the screen someday soon.

He has already written a few scripts, including a story set in a single room.

"Getting the money is always the biggest problem, so my first one will be totally low-budget, no effects," he says.

In the meantime, Kissner can be seen in the upcoming vampire thriller "Brotherhood of Blood."

"I play a mysterious, silent person," Kissner says. "And (spoiler alert!) I don't die."

Figures. Even vampires know not to sleep around Kissner.

Reach Michael Tsai at mtsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.