April 15, 1996
C. THOMAS HOWELL DIGS HIS TEETH INTO DETECTIVE ROLE ON 'KINDRED:THE EMBRACED'
BY JOHN N. GOUDAS
Fox Broadcasting is the most innovative network when it comes to programming.
This season it has introduced two very unusual series, "Profit" and "Kindred:
Of the two, the most spellbinding is perhaps "Kindred: The Embraced," which
is a modern retelling of the vampire legends. There are five clans of vampires
operating in San Francisco, and each clan is distinctive in looks and in the
codes by which they live.
C. Thomas Howell is very well cast as a homicide detective who falls in love
with one of the Kindred, only to see her sacrifice herself when Howell's life is
in danger. So far, each week's story could play as a separate entity. The hours
are tightly written, and the actors have a firm handle on their characters.
There have been some excellent pilots, but not all series retain that initial
excellence. With "Kindred: The Embraced," so far, so good.
C.T., as he is known by his friends and co-workers, has turned down many
series offers through the years, but when Aaron Spelling's people asked him to
read for the role of Detective Frank Kohanek, he related to the part and was
curious to see where the series would go.
The young actor grew up in a show business family. He comes from a long line
of stuntmen and stuntwomen (both his parents were stunt doubles).
"At one point, I was certain that this was going to be my fate also, stunt
work in movies and TV," says Howell. "I was resigned to it, and I thought it
wasn't a bad way to make a good living. However, I spent more time on the rodeo
circuit, which was very exciting. I spent my time between rodeos and TV movies."
Than along came Steven Spielberg, who was casting young boys for "E.T." Of
course, all the guys who read for small parts were hungry to play the friend of
E.T., but Henry Thomas got the part. One of the most exciting and memorable
sequences involves the bicycle chase. Howell played one of the neighborhood kids
involved in the chase.
Howell was ready to return to stunt work, but director Francis Ford Coppola
saw him in "E.T." and cast him in the pivotal role of Ponyboy Curtis in "The
Outsiders." The 1983 film, based on S.E. Hinton's novel, was a huge box-office
success and jump-started the careers of Howell, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez,
Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, Matt Dillon and Tom Cruise.
"It was extraordinary to be doing a movie with all those guys and Coppola,"
recalls Howell. "People still come up to me and talk about this movie. That
always surprises me."
Many good roles followed in such films as "Red Dawn" "Grandview, U.S.A." and
"Secret Admirer." He also got married and had his first child. For a while
there, Howell slowed down and concentrated on making the transition to
In the weeks to come on "Kindred: The Embraced," Detective Kohanek will come
very close to being turned into one of the Embraced. But the chief ruler of all
the clans, Julian Luna (Mark Frankel), doesn't want him to become one of them,
so they remain adversaries with something closely resembling mutual respect for
Howell hopes "Kindred: The Embraced" finds a large audience, so that he can
explore all the aspects of his character.
Caption: C. Thomas Howell plays a detective in the new Fox series, "Kindred:
c 1996 by TV KEY
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.