Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jason Gedrick Makes a Lasting Impression

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jason Gedrick Makes a Lasting Impression

Article excerpt

SELDOM has an actor put in two years back-to-back on a better pair of dramas than Jason Gedrick.

During the 1995-96 season, he was Neil Avedon, the matinee-idol defendant on ABC's highly praised "Murder One."

Then, this season, he became Danny Rooney, a borderline hood with a heart of gold on CBS' shortlived but splendid "EZ Streets." Roles like that, on shows like that, could spoil an actor. "The next thing you know, you might be getting offers to do `Porky's 14,' " says Gedrick, only half-joking. "You're asking yourself, `Should I take this?' And then you go, `I'm asking myself if I should take this!' " But not yet. Instead, Gedrick is adding one more proud role to his resume: Cross DeLena in "The Last Don." The six-hour, three-part miniseries, adapted from Mario Puzo's bestselling novel, began Sunday night and continues Tuesday and Wednesday nights. And while this $24 million epic boasts a robust ensemble led by Danny Aiello as Don Clericuzio, along with Joe Mantegna, Daryl Hannah, Kirstie Alley and Penelope Ann Miller, "The Last Don" is really Cross' story - which means that once Gedrick steps into the role of Cross as an adult toward the end of Part One, it's largely his show. The son of the Clericuzios' hit man Pippi DeLena (played by Mantegna), Cross is torn between loyalty to the family and his own independence. He feels compelled to get involved in the family "business" in a most brutal way, yet he dreams of going straight. If this sounds like the conflicts borne by Michael Corleone early in "The Godfather," maybe it's because both sagas share the same novelist. But their differences far outweigh any similarities. "The Last Don" lacks the operatic heft and galvanizing images that put the "Godfather" films at the pinnacle of movie storytelling. On the other hand, this is an absorbing tale, stylishly told. And Gedrick, who as Cross displays by turns a boyish tenderness and a resolute brutality, makes the tale come alive. Not that Gedrick, frank and puppy-affable, doesn't voice another view of who deserves the credit. "Any acclaim that `The Last Don' gets," he says, "it should all go to Graeme Clifford. I've never worked with a director who had so much pressure and so little time. …

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