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Hamilton: "It's so Hardy Boys"    Jake: "Yeah, meets Nancy Drew"



A Closer Look
By Susan King
Times Staff Writer

    The WB's core teen audience should brush up on their Shakespeare before tuning into the "Young Americans," which premieres Wednesday.

    Set at a swank New England boarding school, the new drama revolves around Will Krudski (Rodney Scott), a poor townie with a loving mother and surly father who gets a scholarship to Rawley Academy. The only problem is, he cheated on his entrance exam.

    But the complications don't end there. His roommate is the rich but down-to-earth Scout Calhoun (Mark Famiglietti), who is madly in love with the beautiful local girl Bella Banks (Kate Bosworth). But a dark secret threatens to derail their relationship. Meanwhile, the dean's son Hamilton Fleming (Ian Somerhalder) finds himself strangely attracted to Jake Pratt (Katherine Moennig), a woman masquerading as a man.

    "I wanted to tell classic stories," says creator and executive producer Steven Antin, a former actor who has written such indie films as "Inside Monkey Zetterling" and "SFW."

    "The Jake character is Shakespearean- that is totally 'Twelfth Night.' Most storylines are definitely Shakespearean in nature. The Scout and Bella thing is just a twist on 'Romeo and Juliet.' How do I take two people who are totally and madly in love and what can I put between them and push them apart?"

    And Will, the townie with dreams, Antin adds, is the ultimate antihero. "I always wanted to write a story about a Will Krudski. He's a guy who almost anybody can identify with. You want to take care of him and you want him to win. He often makes bad choices. It's really a wholesome show with characters who, for the most part, do the right thing but the big sort of aside is, look closer- there is a lot more happening."

    Scott sees his character as more of a complicated kid at a complicated moment in his life.

    "He has a lot going on inside of him," Scott says. "He's the kind of guy who wants to create a better life for himself. He's learning what life is about and he may do the wrong things, but he'll learn from it."

    The character has been a real challenge for Scott because it's very close to him. "When you make up a character everything is make-believe," he says. "But to actually play something close to yourself, it's hard to let people in."

    Like Will, Scott didn't have it easy growing up. "At his age, I was starting to go through some of the same things," says Scott, who hails from Ocean City, Md., not far from where the series films in Baltimore. "Life wasn't a walk in the park for me, and it certainly isn't for Will."

Bosworth, who, like her character, is still in high school, instantly bonded with Bella. "I love her strength. I love her self-sufficiency as a person," says the 17-year old. "I love her independence."

    And after playing a character over an extended period of time, the young actress says that Bella has taken on a life of her own. "It's so funny from watching the first episode to [doing] episode six; there is such a dramatic difference because I have really sunk into it," she says.

    Will was actually introduced on the last three episodes of the WB hit "Dawson's Creek" last spring.  But Antin points out he created the series as a stand-alone. "I created 'Young Americans,' and only after the fact did the studio and the network get together and say, 'Why don't we do a cross-promotion with 'Dawson's Creek.' I thought 'Wow, I'm a lucky guy.'"

    During the eight episodes set for the summer, Antin plans to focus on Will's relationship with his English teacher (Ed Quinn) and his parents.

    The Hamilton-Jake story line will also be very prominent. "She is definitely going to conceal her identity for as long as possible," Antin says. "The story I want to tell with Hamilton and Jake is the power of attraction. He is so insanely attracted to this woman that she can be in a bear suit and he would still find her appealing."

    Meanwhile, Scout and Bella will try to figure out how to become friends. And Will Krudski, he'll just try to figure out how to become Will.




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Copyright 2001 Hardy Boys meets Nancy Drew.