Harry Hamlin in YOU LUCKY DOG – Hallmark Profile

Harry Hamlin - You Lucky Dog

In anticipation of Hallmark’s new original movie, YOU LUCKY DOG, which premieres on Saturday, June 26 (9p.m. ET/PT, 8C), I thought I would share a nice profile of Harry Hamlin, who stars in the movie. So enjoy and you can also find a larger version of his photo all the way down.

________________________________

If this is a midlife crisis, then Harry Hamlin is successfully turning it into a rebirth. Consider that the guy once chosen as People magazine’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ (1987) has determined that living off of the radar no longer suits him at age 58. All of that quiet living? Overrated.

So welcome, everybody, to Harry Hamlin’s very own year of living dangerously. The soft spoken “L.A. Law” alumnus who has been happily married to his third wife, actress Lisa Rinna, for 13 years and raising their two daughters (ages eight and 11) in suburban bliss seems to have decided that it’s time to put it all on the line and become Hazardous Harry.

This, as much as anything, explains why Hamlin and his wife had the brainstorm of starring together in a cable prime time reality show that carries the tentative title “Harry Loves Lisa,” a six-episode undertaking that Hamlin swears has far more in common with “Ozzie & Harriet” than Ozzy Osbourne and family. (Expect to see it on the air come fall.)

“Our idea is to make an ‘Ozzie & Harriet’-style show for the new millennium,” Hamlin insists, “with a little ‘Father Knows Best’ and ‘Leave it To Beaver’ in there as well. It’s not going to be one of those train wreck shows where everyone argues and you wind up turning away from the screen in pain. It’s about doing something for our kids that will make them proud of their parents, that shows us navigating the waters of being entrepreneurs and getting our careers back together.

“We’re also going to show what it is to be a non-dysfunctional family solving our problems in a healthy way.”

It’s an interesting idea, that one. But what Hamlin doesn’t immediately mention is that “Harry Loves Lisa” includes a component devoted to facing one’s fears. And facing them he is.

This has manifested itself in Hamlin jumping out of an airplane at Perris Skydiving School in California and doing a stand-up comedy routine at The Improv in Hollywood. He’s not sure which of the two activities was more frightening. No, actually, he does. It was the comedy set, hands down.

“I wrote my material on a Thursday, and was going to be going on Friday night,” Hamlin recalls. “After I got it down, I thought it was killer. But it ran 12 ½ minutes, and they told me they were going to need to cut me off at six minutes. So the company doing the reality show hired a pro to help me hone it down to six minutes. We got it down to 7 ½.”

Hamlin needn’t have worried. The club wound up letting him go for 10 ½ minutes. “The crowd loved me. They laughed all the way through,” he beams.

Then there was the skydiving. It was Hamlin’s first-ever dive and was to include a 70-second free fall at 120 MPH. It worked out fine, jumping as he did in tandem with a skydive professional. But his muscles were firing so randomly and intensely that when it came time to pull the chute chord, his right arm didn’t have the strength. Fortunately, his partner was able to make it happen.

“That was yesterday,” Hamlin says. “Now this morning, I feel a little bit like I’ve been hit by a truck. All of these muscles I’ve never used before are screaming at me, ‘What did you just do to me?’ Even so, it was an amazing experience. What can I tell you? I’m a mountain climber. I like high altitude.”

Fortunately, Hamlin’s acting muscles remain in fine shape. He co-stars with Natasha Henstridge (“Species,” “Eli Stone”) in “You Lucky Dog,” a Hallmark Channel Original Movie premiering Saturday, June 26 (9p.m. ET/PT, 8c). It was shot up in Toronto, near the area where Hamlin and his wife have a second home.

“We had fun making the movie, Natasha and I,” Hamlin notes. “What was really interesting is that we worked in the film with all of these dogs and sheep, and the dogs are these Border Collies who have absolutely no interest in human beings. None. They’re not these warm and fuzzy companions. Their sole interest in life, their only focus, is to move sheep around. They’re all about herding. And without one of these dogs, it is literally impossible to move sheep.”

It was being up in Canada that actually has inspired another aspect of Hamlin’s unique 2010; one that came about when he went up north to shoot episodes of a series entitled “Harper’s Island.” The border agent did a particularly thorough background check on Hamlin and discovered he still had a felony on his record.

It wasn’t a mistake, Hamlin confirms. It goes back to when he was a student at the University of California at Berkeley in the early 1970s and he was arrested and jailed for several weeks.

“Here I had all of these Canadian work permits on my passport, but the border agent was telling me never to come back to Canada to work until I could prove I was no longer a convicted felon,” Hamlin admits. “So I went through a year of criminal rehab monitored through the Canadian government even though this happened about 40 years ago. I got the clean bill in July, and we started shooting ‘You Lucky Dog’ in late August.”

If you want to know what it was that Hamlin was arrested for, well, you’ll just have to buy his forthcoming book to find out. It carries the tantalizing title Full Frontal Nudity: The Making of An Accidental Actor, and it’s being published by Simon & Schuster’s Scribner label with a scheduled street date of January 2011.

The book actually details Hamlin’s unusual childhood, teen years and early adulthood from ages three to 25. It ends with details of “the first job I ever got paid for,” a role in an American Conservatory Theater production of Equus, which found Hamlin nude onstage at one point. That’s where the book’s title comes in.

“Why am I writing this book and outing myself as a hardened criminal when no one knew before? Well, I figured I’m no longer running for President,” Hamlin says, answering his own question. “I thought it would be good to have some fun with it. I just posed for a mug shot for the back cover last week.”

Meanwhile, back in the present, Hamlin continues to bathe in the afterglow of his five seasons as a regular on “L.A. Law” (1986-92) portraying attorney Michael Kuzak. He calls it “a very special experience, one that was challenging and resonant and wonderful.” It also spoiled him, he acknowledges.

“I haven’t found anything comparable since it left the air,” Hamlin, who also had a recurring role on “Veronica Mars,” says frankly. He still manages to meet socially with co-star Corbin Bernsen and Bernsen’s wife regularly but hasn’t seen anyone else in the “Law” cast in years.

“I’m still out here searching for the next thing,” Hamlin maintains. “And I’m going to find it.”

That is, if he manages to stay a step ahead of the law.

Harry Hamlin in You Lucky Dog