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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 2, 2006

NBC banks on 'Windfall' summer series

By Mike Hughes
Gannett News Service

Lana Parrilla and Luke Perry star as a married couple and new millionaires in "Windfall," NBC's new summer series.


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9 p.m. Thursday, borrowing the "ER" spot for the summer


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As NBC sinks into last place, it can be excused for dreaming about winning the lottery.

In fact, its best new shows lately have started with lottery winners.

In "My Name Is Earl," our hero won a mere $100,000. For him, that's a fortune.

In the new summer series "Windfall," beginning Thursday at 9 p.m., 20 people share a pot, with about $18 million apiece. The effects are quick and dramatic.

"A win like this that's so sudden and so monumental might ripple out in different ways with different people," says Laurie McCarthy, who created the show.

Some people are just happy; wealth can do that. Some hesitate. "Any sudden change in your life can be incredibly jarring and exhilarating," she says.

She has stuffed her show with attractive characters, many of them facing problems. For instance:

  • Luke Perry and Lana Parrilla play a married couple, giddy with the new wealth. Except that this throws her back together with another winner, her ex-lover (Jason Gedrick); his wife (Sarah Wynter) is suspicious.

  • A tough and dangerous young man (D.J. Cotrona) has a criminal past and can't use his real name. He molds a partnership business and sexual with a young lawyer who is his opposite.

  • One teen (Jon Foster) uses the money to break away from his abusive father. Another (Alice Greczyn) isn't one of the winners. She watches painfully, as her estranged parents argue about the money.

  • Other characters include a steel-willed nurse (Jaclyn DeSantis) and a single mother (Malinda Williams), leaving her trailer park.

    There can be plenty more, especially if "Windfall" goes beyond its summer run. Like "Lost," this show leaves room for new characters.

    Most will be at turning points. These characters, McCarthy says, are "drunk with possibility."

    Some actors know the equivalent of being a lottery winner. They've jumped from unemployment to wealth and privilege.

    That happened to Perry. He was a small-town Midwesterner, 24 and unemployed, when he landed "Beverly Hills, 90210"; fame followed.

    It's starting to happen to Greczyn. She grew up in a family that didn't have a TV set. ("My mom thought it sucked our minds.") She went to nursing school, then diverted; next came "Quintuplets" and the "Dukes of Hazzard" movie and, at 20, her second series. "It's been an amazing ride," she says.

    Gedrick has known that, too. He was an athletic Chicago kid, 21, when he landed the starring role in the movie "Iron Eagle." He went on to do two "Last Don" miniseries and some of the more acclaimed TV series in recent years "Murder One," "EZ Streets" and "Boomtown." Life changed.

    Now he's spreading the success around. After landing the "Windfall" role, he suggested that his old "Boomtown" colleague, Parrilla, try out for the show.

    "In 'Boomtown,' we didn't really have a chance to interact," Parrilla says. Now they do, as two attractive new millionaires, married to others and drawn to each other.