Picks and Pans Review: Spotlight
TOM WOPAT HAS TAKEN A CAREER route circuitous enough to make even his former hard-driving alter ego Luke Duke a bit dizzy. After achieving stardom on TV (and lunch boxes) as one of the hell-raising Duke boys in that no-brainer classic The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-85), he recorded four albums (scoring five Top 20 country hits) and starred in two Broadway musicals (City of Angels and Guys and Dolls) and two TV series that tanked (Blue Skies in 1988 and A Peaceable Kingdom in 1989). He then picked a winner last year with CBS's Cybill, in which he plays her stuntman ex-hubby.
Now Wopat, 44, is negotiating another career curve. In mid-January, he began chatting up guests five nights a week as the host of the live Prime Time Country (9-10:30 p.m. ET) on cable's Nashville Network (TNN). "I've always viewed myself as an entertainer," he says. "But to interview someone else on-air is new for me." PTC is the successor, both in time slot and format, to Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase's Music City Tonight and Ralph Emery's Nashville Now. (Crook and Chase left for a new syndicated show; Emery was canceled.) Don't expect any major changes, says Wopat, except to see more sports stars and actors alongside the country biggies regularly featured. And his pal, fellow ex-Duke boy and country singer John Schneider, will appear on Feb. 12. (Schneider himself may soon host a new syndicated matchmaking show, All You Need Is Love.)
Wopat, a twice-divorced father of four who moved to Nashville in 1986, continues to fly to Los Angeles (where he keeps an apartment) for Cybill. "They reduced my part to every third show, which at first I was none too happy with," he says. But the cutback made him available for TNN, so, he says, "it has turned out the best of all possible Worlds."