At 15, PARKER STEVENSON starred in Sara Lee Cheesecake commercials. At 17, Parker Stevenson starred in Paramount Picture's A SEPARATE PEACE. Now, all of 25, Parker Stevenson stars in ABC's THE HARDY BOYS, one of the most popular shows on TV today. If there's any doubt in your mind that Parker Stevenson is headed straight for super-stardom, consider one more fact: Parker Stevenson posters outsell Farah Fawcett-Majors posters.
RANDY BOURSCHEIDT: Did you read Hardy Boys books?
PARKER STEVENSON: I read a couple of them and then I reread some when I started to do the show.
What are your plans as far as THE HARDY BOYS is concerned?
I don't know. I don't think anyone knows at this point. We have a pick-up for six scripts, which they're writing now. We won't hear an official pick-up for the show for another week or two. [ABC has renewed 'The Hardy Boys' for the fall. - Ed.] I would guess that there'll probably be a lot of juggling between now and September. And with Fred Silverman at NBC, June 1st there'll be changes and we'll be making changes at ABC. In this business, you just never know from day to day.
Does that make you nervous?
It used to. For a long time it's been one reason why I held off getting too involved in entertainment. I like being able to plan, I like to know what I'm going to be doing. For a long time, it was very hard for me to get used to it. I think I have now. I'm more interested in where I'll be in five or ten years than where I am now.
You talk like you could be doing something entirely different.
I think I could be happy doing something like architecture. It would involve another couple of years of graduate school but that's what I studied in college. That's what I always wanted to do. It really wasn't until I finished college that I started to think of acting as a career. It was always secondary.
Has your head been turned by becoming a star?
There are a couple of things involved. One, my schedule has really been totally taken up, that's what the work requires. You do show after show after show and get them done and get them on the air. Television devours material. We work a minimum of 12, 14 hours, and often 15, 18 hours a day. We started last June and we finished up last Saturday. We had a couple of days off for Christmas.
But now and then, you know, if I go to a restaurant and people come up and ask for an autograph and stuff, I'm very flattered, but I realize to some extent it's the nature of television. I got more exposure in the first two episodes of The Hardy Boys than I did in a hundred commercials and three features. So on the one hand, I'm flattered, but I also know if someone else was in the part who was able to work comfortably with Shaun [Cassidy] they'd be getting the same response.
Do you ever try to find a place where people won't know you?
Well, I'm going to go away on vacation after I see my folks. I'm going to try to get away from the phone, away from scripts. I just think it's important to sit back and think about what you want and plan things.
What do you do to get away from people in California?
Well, if I get the time off, if I have a Sunday free, I'll go up the coast - I have some friends who live in Malibu - and spend some time on the beach. I scuba dive and swim and sail. A lot of the things I like are around the water.
How do you live?
Very simply. I have an apartment in West Hollywood. We've had short-term pick-ups - 6 shows, 8 shows - but I've begun to think about a move to California. I still think of myself really as a New Yorker.
You sort of sound like a Californian. How did that happen?
The first two pictures I did, I played a young student in prep school and everyone said, "Oh, you're so typecast, a preppy." Then, when I did 'Lifeguard,' everyone was saying, "Oh, you're so typecast, Southern California." It was kind of a surprise to me, because they're different types. Somehow I seem to fall in between.
Does the problem of typecasting scare you?
Yeah, I am concerned about it. I was the last one to go out and screen test for The Hardy Boys because it took me a long time to get used to the idea of doing a show like this. I'd like very much to go off and do something else. I'd like to play someone my own age - 25 - not 18, 19 years old and maybe to do something that's not as clean-cut as Frank Hardy. I play him as straight as possible. It's not like I play a characterization, like Winkler has to do with the Fonz.
You sang with Debby Boone.
Well, that was fun! Originally I said no because I didn't want to sing, but it worked out. With Debby singing you can't go wrong. There's been a lot of pressure and a lot of money offered to sing. When Shaun started to sing on the show they wanted to get us singing together. They thought we could cash in. I repeatedly said no because I just want to concentrate on acting. Shaun is very talented. I have great respect for Shaun and I've learned a great deal from working with him. He has tremendous timing, he's very good with comedy, very good at delivering one-liners. He gets it from his mother and father. But I think if you asked him to make a choice, he'd say music is his real passion. I don't want to spready myself too thin. I want to come out of the show iwth people thinking of me as an actor.
You had to do a senior thesis at Princeton, didn't you?
Yes, I did a comparison of a school of architects known as the New York Five. I compared their articulation of wall surfaces [makes snoring sound] - which actually I enjoyed very much.
Who's your favorite architect?
That's like asking who's your favorite movie actor.
Well, what kind of building gets you excited?
Modern. My interest in architecture has always been sculptural, that's how I enjoy it. Most of my photography is of architecture. Everyone says Frank Lloyd Wright, that's why I hate to say him.
What do you think of California architecture?
It's incredibly varied. In fact, I almost rented a house by an architect named Schindler, just because I wanted to live in it, but I couldn't afford it. It was a jewel. California lacks a lot of the rules and restrictions the East has, which I like. Every house is a different style, different material, different color. There's alot of craziness out there, like a medieval castle that's being built in Malibu, in 1978.
Do you have time to go to parties?
I try not to go unless it's a friend of mine. I think all that's nice, though, you go and get your picture taken.
Do you go out in New York?
I used to a lot. There was a period when I used to go dancing. I was asked to go to Studio 54 last night but I didn't.
What about girls?
As many as I can. It's very hard for me because of the show. For now, my interest is in the show.
Do you like show business girls?
Makes no difference.
Did I read that you visited Marie Osmond in Utah?
Well, I went to do the show in Utah. I had met Marie in LA and there had been a lot of publicity that we were engaged, so we finally met at a concert and I congratulated her on our engagement. She asked me to do the show, which was super. She's really quite special. They're fabulous, that family.
What are they really like?
That's what they're really like. They're very close, very hard-working, very bright, very talented. It's amazing what they do on that show.
Where did they learn to ice skate in Provo, Utah? That's what I want to know.
They have their own rink!
People talk about you and Debby Boone too.
Yeah, I'm sort of friendly with Debby. I met her at Shaun's birthday party. She's very pretty.
You seem to like old-fashioned girls.
I like people who are enthused about things they do, like travel, sports, work, and I like being with people who have things they're excited about. I don't know if that means a liberated woman or not.
Do feminists make you uncomfortable?
What is the most awful question you've been asked in an interview? (Now I don't have to ask!)
That's the most difficult question.
Is there some question you're dying to answer but nobody asks?
I do interviews because it's a chance to be myself, so people can see me not as Frank Hardy. I sometimes wonder what I could have to say that would be of any interest. I don't have any great wisdom. People say, how would you advise people to get into the business? I don't know. I was lucky, I worked hard - I've been working a long time, 10, 11 years.
There's no secret about the real Parker Stevenson that you'd love to tell? This is your chance.
I wish I had something for you like that.
How do you keep in shape?
It's a problem. I run when I can.
How many push-ups can you do? There was that great picture of you in 'Us.'
Let me tell you about that picture. Everyone tells me they love the picture, it's super. I had been running and doing other kinds of sports and the photographer said, "Will you take off your shirt?" And, as I always do, I said, "No." And he said, "Oh, please, please, we're on the beach." I said I'd only take off my shirt if I have approval of those photographs. So I got them and I just didn't think they were appropriate. I didn't want a pin-up picture next to an article that refuted that, so I x'd them all out. Well, the picture ran anyway, and I was disappointed, but that's the way it goes.
Well, it's nice except you have no legs.