Fox Broadcasting continues its bid for the youth market with two new series premiering Wednesday, Patrick Hasburgh's "Glory Days" at 8, followed by "Molloy" at 9, starring Mayim Bialik.
Both series focus on passages in young lives. Bialik, who played the young Bette Midler in the film "Beaches," stars as Molloy Martin, 13, who moves in with her father and his new family in Beverly Hills after the death of her mother.
"Glory Days" follows four friends during their first year out of high school. Two -- Walker Lovejoy and Dominic Fopiano -- have prolonged the transition to adulthood by enrolling in college (although Lovejoy's college career turns out to be remarkably short).
Dave Rutecki, son of a policeman who enlisted in the Army and was killed in Vietnam, faces the full-time working world in earnest.
And then there's Peter "T-Bone" Trigg, a good-natured but goalless young man who's always trying to borrow money from his pals.
It's a time, Hasburgh said, "when you are asked to make the most important decisions of your life and you have none of the skills. It's about trying to become a man without the skills to make adult decisions.
"It's also trying to stay in touch with the people who knew you and also realizing that you're changing and knowing that some of these friendships will change.
"We see these kids pulling in four different directions, and you realize how completely things will change."
Sometimes the glory days aren't all that glorious. But it's still a special time, on your own, for better or worse and to a greater or lesser degree, at last. Even viewers who aren't 18 years old anymore will understand.
Certainly producer Hasburgh, who is 40, remembers, and he's put a lot of himself and his old friends from Buffalo, N.Y., into this summer series.
Not that young actors Evan Mirand, Spike Alexander, Brad Pitt and Nicholas Kallsen are playing Hasburgh's actual cronies, of course.
"I guess they're a compilation of all of our friends," reflected Hasburgh, who also wrote the pilot. "I think there are elements of all of them. All good drama is retrospective in nature. There's a nostalgic part of drama."
Look fast and you'll also spot a Buffalo Bills pennant on Lovejoy's bedroom wall.
Hasburgh called to talk about "Glory Days" from Aspen, Colo., where he was ready to go fishing with some of those very pals from high school.
"I'm seeing them all today," he said. "One of my friends from Buffalo even moved out to Aspen."
After working at Bethlehem Steel right out of high school, Hasburgh become a ski instructor in Aspen, served as a white-water river guide, drove trucks, wrote free-lance articles, plays and screenplays and wrote for "Aspen Today."
Eventually, producer Stephen J. Cannell bought one of his scripts, then hired him to write for "The Greatest American Hero," starring William Katt, which ran on ABC from March 1981 to February 1983. Hasburgh worked as story editor of "The Quest" (ABC, October and November 1982); helped develop the pilot for NBC's "The A-Team," serving as writer and producer for the first season, 1983, and was co-creator and executive producer of "Hardcastle & McCormick," writing and directing many episodes.
In spring 1987, he and Cannell launched new Fox Broadcasting's first popular series, "21 Jump Street." Today, he says without elaboration, "I was very disappointed in the direction they took 'Jump Street' after I left."
His Patrick Hasburgh Productions, Inc., signed to do a series for ABC but he said, in retrospect, he wasn't happy with it.
"We had a series on ABC for about two seconds last spring, 'Sunset Beat,'" he said, adding by way of explanation, "I never wanted to do that one.
"But now we'll be in production for a series on ABC based on the mounted police department in New York. In New York City, the mounted police are far more effective than squad cars.
"Then there's a musical developing midseason, kind of like 'West Side Story' meets 'Do the Right Thing'." Also set in New York, of course.
Right now, though, there's "Glory Days," set in any-city USA that appears to be located by a bay or lake and has a few towering office buildings to light up the night.
The pilot introduces all four young actors, in much the same way that Hasburgh's "21 Jump Street" made teenage heroes of another ensemble cast (Johnny Depp, Peter DeLuise, Dustin Nguyen and Holly Robinson).
For all four, these are their first starring television roles.
"They're all going to become friends," predicted Hasburgh.
The most TV-experienced of them is Brad Pitt, who appeared in "21 Jump Street" and showed up in "Growing Pains," "Dallas," "thirtysomething" and "Head of the Class" and in two movies, "Nowhere to Run" and "Cutting Class."
Pitt plays Walker Lovejoy, a former high school football wonder who goes off to college only to get cut from the team. In short order, he has quit school and is home again, looking up the old pals (who are incredulous, but welcome him back), hoping to resume romance with his high-school girlfriend Sherry, and trying for a job as a cub reporter at the local newspaper.
Spike Alexander, who plays rookie cop Dave Rutecki, guested on "The Cosby Show" and appeared with the American Ballet Company. As Rutecki, his overenthusiasm for the job is fast getting him into trouble. In the pilot, he has already chalked up 11 arrests in 10 days, has chased down and handcuffed a local gynecologist out for his morning run, and has shot and killed a man who is terrorizing a convenient store clerk.
Lovejoy and Rutecki, best friends since first grade, move out of their parents' homes and into a warehouse-sort of apartment. They'll help each other grow up, as they did during childhood and adolescence.
Evan Mirand is Dominic Fopiano, pledging a fraternity during his first year at a local college. Mirand has the fullest background, having trained in theater, dance (American Ballet Theater) and voice, appeared in the original Broadway casts of "Runaways" and "Open Admissions," in two ABC movies, "Weekend War" (1988) and "Brotherhood of Justice" (1986), and in CBS' "Melba."
And Nicholas Kallsen makes his television debut as good-natured but unrealistic Peter "T-Bone" Trigg. Kallsen, who attended Boston University, appeared in the 1989 feature film "Say Anything."
Much of the second installment, written and directed by Jonathan Lemkin, focuses on Fopiano's initially reluctant romance with a charming, intelligent but overweight bridesmaid (Lesley Boone) and Trigg's attempts to become a super-salesman of housecleaning products, only to learn that he himself has been duped.
We also meet Rutecki's boss, Lt. Krantz (Robert Costanzo), who must try to keep the rookie Rutecki in line without crushing his spirit, and Sheila Jackson, editor of the Century Post where Lovejoy is trying to get a job.
As played by Beth Broderick, Jackson is a hard-edged, fast-talking woman given to berating her staff, to whom she refers as "midgets." She's straight out of 1930s and '40s Hollywood movies when speaking rapidly and puffing on cigarettes were marks of sophistication.
But Hasburgh insists that Jackson is a woman of the '90s.
"A lot of the women I deal with -- lawyers, agents -- have been around the business a long time and come off as men," he said. "They're very tough and very gruff. Maybe this is really the time for the movie version of the '30s woman."
Jackson explains to Lovejoy, whose background includes one high school creative writing class, the "5 W's of journalism: who, what, where, why, when" (she omits the conventional "how").
But then, after coaching him on the importance of facts and rewriting his account of Rutecki's grocery-store shooting, she tells him that she has had to learn to "bend the truth a little to sell newspapers" and that "ambiguity is the most important word in journalism."
"Well, this newspaper isn't the classiest newspaper in town," said Hasburgh a bit lamely. "And she's not very happy working there."
Oh. Really. Well, it is a tabloid. (And by next week, with Lovejoy on the staff, editor Jackson seems a little less flinty.)
"The pilot is a tad melodramatic in spots," Hasburgh said, "but it's appealing. I like the series a lot, myself."
If "Glory Days" works in its six-episode tryout, it will be largely because viewers also find the four young stars appealing.
They are, after all, the new kids on the block.