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Of 'Glee': I Sing Okay, Josh Sussman can't carry a tune, but maybe a series?

June 11, 2009 By:
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Playing a member of a geek fraternity has paid off handsomely for New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts grad Josh Sussman.

And this is your "American Idol"!

Well, maybe not.

"Actually," recalls Josh Sussman, "I was on 'The Tonight Show' with Jay Leno when he told audiences that the latest 'American Idol' contestant would be appearing, and there I was, in a spoof, singing 'Ring of Fire' [off-key] when Simon Cowell set me on fire."

Show him the Doors? Cowell's done worse, and Josh Sussman's certainly done better: He's a member of the cast of "Glee," the innovative new musical/ comedy on Fox, which previewed a couple of weeks ago and will return in September.

And when did it preview? After the finale of the last "American Idol."

Okay, Josh is no Kris Allen. And he can't do the Adam Lambert walk at all.

Clearing his throat, he says, "No one wants to hear me sing."

Which is not to say the Jewfro-ed 25-year-old "kid" doesn't have a voice in the success of the sing-song "Glee," TV's motley club of musical misfits who flat-out are not the sharpest/coolest kids in school, but then, they don't have to be when the ratings' tuning fork is pointed in their direction.

It is this environment -- the haves and half-notes -- to which Sussman's character, Jacob Ben Israel, will be introduced when the show returns this fall.

Introducing Josh Sussman ... not that he needs one.

When a script calls for Dorks 'R Us, the guy with the goofy grin adds smiley faces to his paycheck.

The image doesn't waver, whether it be his starring part in "Wizards of Waverly Place" or his recurring role on the late "What About Brian."

What about it, Josh? Okay, you can't carry a tune, but maybe a series? Is this resurging career revenge of the nerds?

"Well, I wasn't the most popular kid in high school," he recalls of the taunts he took back in Teaneck, N.J. "But, now, this is a different tune."

Tune out the past: "Students I didn't even know in high school will find me on Facebook now and say, 'We're so proud of you,' " -- and, while you're at it, Josh, can you score us some tickets in Hollywood?

Dunno about him, but maybe Jacob Ben Israel can. After all, Israel has the write stuff -- and connections.

Says Josh: "He's the school blogger and reviewer with a huge crush on the main girl in school" -- the "Glee" glamorpuss played by Lea Michele of "Spring Awakening" -- who awakens his hormones all-year round.

"But, uh, he creeps her out."

Yet she has her own crawl space. "She needs Jacob for good reviews," and the blogger gleefully gives them to her to forego rejection.

As odd man out, he has time to form a relationship -- on the even segments. "I'm in episodes two, four, six and eight."

Two-four-six-eight -- who do we appreciate? Well, it's hard to take a hankering -- if not a handkerchief -- to Jacob Ben Israel. But he isn't rejected by all.

Sure, he may not be a member of the Glee Club, "but he is a member of the Celibacy Club," reports Sussman.

And maybe Hair Club for Men? The Jewfro "started when I was asked to do a commercial, and then I just kept growing it longer."

Long ago seem the days when Sussman clubbed around with other members of the JCC dramatics gang in Tenafly, near Teaneck, and worked at their summer camp.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall ...

But the "Holyman Undercover" actor -- the film will be released this summer -- has always been above board about his looks. Belonging to the geek fraternity, he's paid his dues.

"I've always had these quirky looks," he says.

The good, the bad and the ... quirky? "I remember someone in high school calling me ugly."

But not being a part of Los Angeles' glamour scene works -- quite literally -- for him. A number of handsome actors find they can't milk their looks for jobs amid cattle calls attended by other beautiful people.

But this alum of the prestigious New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts -- overseen by CEO David Palmer and Joan See, founder/artistic director -- has seen his way to cream-of-the-crop character roles.

Not fitting in is a good fit, allows Sussman.

After all, no matter the future of Kris Allen and Adam Lambert, this "American Idol" has already caught fire.

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