Edward Hibbert returned his Oscar Wilde role in Gross Indecency to its originator, Michael Emerson, then visited family in London for a week, then flew to Los Angeles to do three days of ABC-TV promotion and is now poised to start lensing in Hawaii, at the beginning of August, the first 12 episodes of a new "Fantasy Island" that the network is activating.
Ricardo Montalbam could not be persuaded to make this return trip so his role function is being filled by Malcolm McDowell. Hibbert -- best-known to Off-Broadway audiences as that impeccable Brit, Stirling, in Paul Rudnick's Jeffrey -- will co-star as a snooty character not in the original series: namely, the concierge of Fantasy Island Hotel. "A bit of class, some good suits and some good dialogue," is Hibbert's deft way of summing up his new role.
"I think it's very exciting," the English actor admits. "I never saw the original show, but everyone seems to have loved it. This will be a very different version of that. The same idea -- people come to the island, and they live out their fantasies -- but the approach is different."
Hibbert's previous adventure in Sitcomland was the recurring role of the restaurant critic on Frasier. "It was a wonderful kind of annuity, and I certainly hope it continues," he says.
Still, Hibbert knows -- or hopes he knows -- where his next play is coming from: "There's a play I want to do in New York next summer, and I've been talking to people about it. It's very hush-hush right now. My feeling is I love doing television, but, having done a stint of it, to come back and do theatre whenever I can is very important to me. It's a little like going back to the gym." -- By Harry Haun