TV preview: 'Zero Hour' woos 'ER' star back to TV

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Anthony Edwards has already had his dream trip around the world.

Starting today, he'll be crisscrossing the planet on a journey dreamed up by "Prison Break" creator Paul Scheuring in pursuit of mysterious bad guys in ABC's "Zero Hour."

More than a decade after he left "ER" -- where Mr. Edwards, now 50, earned enough millions to make spending more time with the family an activity that at one point involved traveling the world for a year with his wife, their four children and a couple of teachers -- the actor's back on television.

'Zero Hour'

When: 8 tonight on ABC

And in the kind of TV -- a one-hour network drama -- he'd never planned to do again.

Actors in a position to be choosy tend to lean toward cable shows with shorter runs "and that's what I thought -- I thought I'd do 13 episodes of cable," said Mr. Edwards last month in Pasadena, Calif.

He already had a deal with CBS to develop TV shows with his producing partner, Cheryl Dolins, and after flirting with the idea of doing a play in New York and "realizing 'Oh! I'm ready to go do something for four months' ... I started developing one specifically for me to act in, at Showtime," a CBS company.

That project ended up not being made, but it had planted a seed.

"I said to my manager, 'I'm open. Let's read what's going on.' Because for many years, people have kind of known, 'He's really not interested in doing a series again,' " Mr. Edwards said.

"And then I read this script [for 'Zero Hour'] that I love and think, 'Really? The network really wants to make this pilot? Well, if they're crazy enough to want to make this pilot, I'll make the pilot. Because, worst-case scenario, we do it, it doesn't work, it'll never go anywhere. But if this does work, this could be really fun.' "

And, though there might not seem to be much of a link between "ER" -- in which Mr. Edwards spent eight seasons as emergency room stalwart Dr. Mark Greene -- and "Zero Hour" -- in which he plays a magazine publisher trying to unravel a conspiracy that involves old clocks, Nazis and the 12 Apostles -- he sees "Zero Hour" as another ensemble piece.

"I like being part of a group. 'ER' was certainly that way. The best experience I've ever had is when you know what your role is in helping tell that story. And then you ... have a lot more freedom, because you're not taking on the responsibility of, 'I have to carry this story line,' " he said.

Mr. Edwards plays Hank Galliston, publisher of Modern Skeptic magazine, which investigates seemingly paranormal happenings, and husband of Laila (Jacinda Barrett), who's abducted from her antique clock shop soon after we meet her. It's not long before he and his young reporters Rachel (Addison Timlin) and Arron (Scott Michael Foster) are flying off to try to solve the mystery of her disappearance, with the possible assistance of an FBI agent played by Carmen Ejogo.

"The puzzle's the fun part," he said of the show, which Mr. Scheuring had earlier told reporters he'd written with the ending of the series in mind, working backward to create the pilot.

Though he's taken the time to make some movies, Mr. Edwards' post-"ER" life hasn't exactly been all work, no play.

Besides the trip around the world, "I learned to cook," he said. "I learned to fly a plane, a year and a half ago, so I've been flying a lot, which I love," he said.

Married since 1994 to makeup artist Jeanine Lobell, the actor appears otherwise to be solidly grounded, with a 19-year-old son in college and three daughters, ages 10, 12 and 16.

Ms. Lobell is still "doing a lot of fashion makeup ... My joke is, and it's true, is that the amount of beautiful women that push me out of the way to get to my wife is -- numerous," he said, chuckling.

"She really has incredible taste and qualities that people want to know about."



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