May 6, 1996


‘Kindred’ star waiting to see if show has life
Bob Sokolsky

The days are dwindling and even if you are a vampire and used to scaring people you’ve got to be a bit frightened yourself right now.

That’s because decision time is coming up at Fox. R-Day is tentatively set for May 21, possibly May 22, and that’s when the Ventrues, Nosferatu, the Brujah and all the other clans who comprise “Kindred: The Embraced,” learn whether they have been renewed for a full season or dropped after seven shows.

Actually, they have filmed eight. But one is in limbo – it could appear some time this summer or it may disappear entirely. So, for the moment, the last of the original “Kindred” episodes, titled “Cabin in the Woods,” will be coming up a t 9 p.m. Wednesday. And Mark Frankel, who plays Julian Luna, the series’ head vampire (insiders call them “Kindred,” hence the title), thinks it might be the best show of the current lot.

“It’s spooky, but very sexually charged,” he says.

The same might be said for the other outings in this saga of contemporary vampires whose activities range from street gangs to board rooms. And in this process, the whole affair has been establishing Julian as a character to be loved and feared.

The British-born Frankel expresses some amusement about that, also a touch of worry. “The first film I did in England was ‘Leon the Pig Farmer,'” he recalls. “It was a successful film and suddenly I’m a comic actor.”

He certainly was in “Solitaire for 2,” the movie that played last year’s Temecula Valley Film Festival. And he definitely is in “Rosanna’s Grave,” a feature he has been doing during breaks in the “Kindred” schedule. But now, he observes, “I’ll probably be playing vampires evermore.”

Of course, playing one like Julian wouldn’t be the worst job in the world. “The great thing about the character is that he doesn’t get out of a coffin at midnight,” Frankel says. “If he had, I probably wouldn’t be doing this.

“But this is a fascinating role. Here is someone who has been locked into the prism of his life for 200 years. He’s had six lifetimes, he spanned the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries, gone through two world wars and broken relationships. Consequently, here’s a man with an amazing understanding of human psychology. He’s a man of great authority and he has a knowledge and depth a young person would never have because he has seen so much. That gives him so many different perspectives. In fact, I’m sure that if I had been living for 200 years, I’d be having a much different conversation with you.”

The general idea, Frankel notes, is to have Julian and his colleagues create a murky mood that can get downright scary at times. But he says the true fright – for him anyway – is not the series. It’s the audition that led to it.

“I met with Fox and with (executive producer) Aaron Spelling. All actors are paranoid, but it’s terrifying when you go to a network for these things,” Frankel says. “Especially with Fox. You go into a room with 35 people sitting there and staring at you. It’s a real daunting experience. I kept thinking ‘I could end my career right here and now.’

“But then Aaron said to me ‘Are you nervous? I don’t want you to be. We’re really excited about meeting you’.”

That calmed him down. Now, however, there is another problem – jet lag as he contemplates a travel schedule that, within four days, is sending him from L.A. to his home in London, to Rome to complete “Rosanna’s Grave,” back to London and then to New York. “These days I’m very familiar with some good-looking airline hostesses,” Frankel declares.

** This article also appeared in The News Times on May 7, 1996.