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Guttenberg's Ship-Shape 'Poseidon' Adventure

November 17, 2005 By:
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There's got to be a mourning after.

Certainly will be for Richard Clarke, whose shipwreck of a shipboard romance with the masseuse can't hold water to the troubles he's about to face with his other cabin roommate - his wife.

Is it all worth an all-steam ahead bedroom scene that literally turns his world upside-down?

Such are the conundrums facing those on "The Poseidon Adventure," an adaptation of the Paul Gallico best-seller and C-worthy 1972 movie that went overboard on special effects, but had such a special heart-wrenching nervous impact that not even a towering inferno of critical assaults could stop its engines at the box office.

And on Sunday night, beginning at 8, NBC's new disaster-proof adaptation offers - much like the original - an arsenal of adventurous actors ready to hold their heads high above water.

One of those is Steve Guttenberg, everyone's favorite former Jewish dental student who long ago traded root canals for now rooting around in four feet of a man-made canal that floats this intense - and popcorn with butter worthy - three-hour tour.

Three men and a boat? No, much more than that. As the philandering Richard Clarke, Guttenberg presses the point that after all is said and done - and drowned - family is everything.

The charming actor with a wonderful off-kilter - much like the Poseidon - sense of humor about career and capers, must have trained rigorously for the acrobatic love scenes that literally have him and his lover probably pondering, "Did the earth move for you?"

Well … the floor of their cabin did, as Richard and his newfound magic fingers of a friend (Nathalie Boltt) find that the Poseidon is one liner that has a kick of a punchline.

Did the actor ever experience such a bed and (broken) board joyride with any of his other characters over the years? Sex and the series? Well … maybe in real life … "About two weeks ago in my home; we're just getting over it now," he joshes.

Disaster films were never a joke to him, he recalls of watching as a movie fan when the original "Poseidon" took on water and as "The Towering Inferno" needed gallons of it to stop the fire.

"It's always fun to see a soap opera about all kinds of different human beings trapped in some sort of box," says the actor, "that puts people in situations where they have to have their wits about them."

Guttenberg's got the smarts; he's shown it on screen and behind the camera as director. His field of vision isn't limited to the silver screen either; the actor has appeared on stage on and off-Broadway - far off-Broadway, namely London.

Modern-Day Mayhem
With all the talented actors on board for this sweeps-month special, this is not just a celebrity cruise. And it's not a tidal wave that sets this ship in motion as in the original - it's a terrorist plot by onboard swarthy-looking swabs who find the ship's Achilles (Lauro) heel in security and plant a bomb.

Can the one-time star of "Can't Stop the Music" stop the destruction? Call the cops of "Police Academy" for backup?

No need; Guttenberg offers an arresting performance of his own.

"Storywise, you need an exciting incident," he says of the "modern element" of terrorism instilled in the plot.

"If you watch episodic TV or [read] newspapers, you'll see the article come to life on many TV shows" weeks later.

Trivialize terrorism? This is no game of trivial pursuit - just the pursuit of a few hours of armchair-gripping tension, a passport to "take you to a place where the scary can happen."

 

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