Estrada, Look Out!"
by Edwin Kiester, Jr.
this season's revamped Lobo, "aw-shucks" deputy Brian
Kerwin turns macho
Kerwin, Deputy Birdie on NBC's comic-cops series Lobo,
is wolfing down a monumental salad and at the same time describing
his own experience with small-town law enforcement. He chortles
and acts out all three parts in the story, set during the time
he lived in Forest Grove, Oregon, and had just fallen in love
with a model.
little story," he says, chuckling to show that it really
isn't. "Linda was separated from her husband. We first met
when she had just filed for divorce, and we kept wanting to see
each other, but that's not really cool when a person isn't divorced.
Especially because her husband was a policeman in town. And carried
a gun." He pats his hip for more emphasis."
day she was driving me home and he followed in his own car and
pulled us over. Did a real Starsky-and-Hutch thing and forced
us to stop. Nasty guy! Linda said, 'Roll up all the windows, lock
all the doors. If he tells you to open up, don't do it.' Suddenly
I realized, 'Hey, he's got a gun!' He came over and said, 'Roll
down the window.' I said no. He said, 'Open the door.' I said
no. Finally I rolled down the window a little crack and he said,
'Listen, you, the divorce ain't final and you stay away from her!'
And I said, 'Yes, sir! Anything you say, sir!' So I took a job
with the Forest Service for three months so we could physically
separate ourselves. "Of course, we did manage to meet on
30-year old Brian Kerwin himself leans toward the loquacious,
as Deputy Birdwell Hawkins of Orly County, Georgia, the good ol'
Southern boy who has gone to Harvard and returned to work as a
deputy, his lines have been mostly limited to "Aw, shucks,
ma'am" and "You bet, Sheriff," Lobo, a spinoff
of BJ and the Bear, has cast him as third banana behind
Claude Akins, who plays Sheriff Lobo, and Mill Watson, the tanglefoot
Deputy Perkins. The two veterans draw most of the funny lines.
are changing this season, however. Pitching for younger and more
urban audiences, NBC has transferred Lobo from cornpone
Orly County to metropolitan Atlanta, and shortened the title from
The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo to simply Lobo.
As a country-bumpkin-become-city-slicker, Lobo will be more uppity
and his con games more sophisticated. Deputy Birdie has changed,
too. To appeal to teenyboppers and young housewives, he has become
"more macho." "Whatever
Erik Estrada is doing, I'm supposed to do," he says.
for the future, he would like to play Shakespeare (which inspires
another story) or do more feature films (still another story).
Or maybe get married. "Linda and I carried on a cross-country
relationship for about three years. She'd come here, I'd go to
New York. Worked out fine. Then one day we just looked at each
other and said, 'Well, whaddya think?' And that was the end of
then, might the lucky girl be? Ah, that's another story.