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'Numb3rs' adds up for new series' stars
January 10, 2005
Rob Morrow had seen all the usual TV scripts with cops and courts and comedy and such.
Then came "Numb3rs," which caught him by surprise. "I didn't know that math was a hook for a mass audience," he says.
Hey, anything is possible. Small-town Alaska was a TV favorite in Morrow's "Northern Exposure."
Now "Numb3rs" -- yes it's spelled that way -- links math and crime fighting. It premieres at about 9 p.m. Jan. 23 on CBS after football's AFC championship game. Then it gets a regular spot at 9 p.m. Fridays after "JAG."
This show spans two worlds via brothers.
One is an ace FBI agent named Don Eppes, played by Morrow. The role is a change for him. "It's fun to play the heroic guy who knows what he's doing," he says.
The other brother, Charlie Eppes, is a math whiz who helps with cases. He's played by David Krumholtz, which is pretty good for a guy who says he was very bad at math as a kid.

"I was the kid in algebra class who had no idea what's going on. ... I always thought it should be an optional class, like gym."

Now the 26-year-old has to seem passionate about it as he uses mathematical equations to help his brother hunt criminals.

Some of the chalkboard close-ups uses Krumholtz's stunt double, a math student. For the rest, he's on his own.

"Numb3rs" is CBS' latest effort to increase ratings by employing filmmakers with impressive credentials.

The network has already scored with Jerry Bruckheimer's "CSI," "Without a Trace," "Cold Case" and "Amazing Race." Now it has "Numb3rs," produced by Tony Scott (who directed Bruckheimer's "Top Gun") and his brother Ridley (who directed "Gladiator").

Morrow is accustomed to working with Hollywood veterans. Robert Redford cast him as the star of the acclaimed movie "Quiz Show."

For Krumholtz, however, meeting the Scotts was imposing. "I've always been a big film fan," he says. "I've always been a little too starstruck."

When he was 16, Krumholtz was in both a TV series (as David Schwimmer's brother in "Monty") and a movie (as Bernard the elf in "The Santa Clause").

The TV show failed, but the movie and its sequel soared. "When you meet a 4-year-old and to him you actually are Bernard, you take that seriously," Krumholtz says.

Hollywood soon saw him as a rarity -- a young guy with perfect comedy timing. He did three more series, "Chicago Sons," "The Closer" and "The Trouble With Normal."

Then it all faded. "There was a period of time where I was auditioning for a lot of the biggest comedies and I couldn't get one."

Krumholtz did lots of independent movies. He was surprised to be cast in two "ER" episodes as a slasher. "I didn't know if I would always be remembered as the guy who killed Kellie Martin and almost killed Noah Wyle."

Then came two drama series -- last year's "The Lyons Den" and now "Numb3rs."

While Krumholtz's character is furiously thinking and scribbling, Morrow gets to chase and fight. "Late in life, I'm getting into the physical scenes," he says.

Morrow, 42, grew up comfortably in suburban New York, went to college "for a minute," and then jumped into acting. "Northern Exposure," with Morrow as a big-city type reluctantly working as a doctor in small-town Alaska, opened quietly in 1990 and became a cult favorite.

Most recently, he was playing a troubled parolee in the Showtime series "Street Time." Now he moves to the law-and-order side.

He had plenty of current or former FBI agents advising him.

"They seem like a lot of regular guys," Morrow says. "The whole (J. Edgar) Hoover image is really an anachronism."

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