The Ben Stiller Show  

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Cast of Characters


Once described by guest Dennis Miller as "Martin Short stretched out on a rack", Andy Dick's gangly appearance can be deceiving. Rail thin, with an unkempt head of blond curls that seem to spring from his own manic energy and round glasses that complete the Woody Allen-esque effect, Dick would seem destined to be limited by a lifetime of "nerd" roles. It is a testament to Dick's talent and charisma that he has managed to excel beyond anyone's expectations.

In actuality, Andy Dick can sometimes even appear rather handsome. As evidenced by his role as Van Hammersly in "Manson"--a parody of the classic "Lassie" series featuring Charles Manson as the family pet--Dick possesses the cleft chin and wholesome good looks of a matinee idol. Broadcasting television critic David Robens states: "Andy Dick is reminiscent of the early Tom Hanks. While not conventionally good-looking, he could use his boyish qualities to try for a career as a leading man. Luckily for us, Dick is currently playing up his nerdish charm, which he does better than anyone else on television."

Certainly "The Ben Stiller Show" can't be accused of typecasting Dick. As a former member of the L.A.-based theater troupe "The Groundlings", Dick is capable of playing a wide range of parts. In addition to his appearance as Van Hammersly, Dick has played a football star ("Bad Twist Ending Theater"), a foreign terrorist ("Die Hard 12") and an irritable sock puppet ("Skank"). Not that Dick didn't play his share of nerdy roles: there was his dead-on Woody Allen in "Bride of Frankenstein" and his priceless performance as the beleaguered neighbor of a rap star in "Kill Doug Szathke". Whenever Dick appeared on camera as himself, he deliberately came across as the ultimate high strung neurotic--such as his scene walking down Melrose Avenue complaining about people who "have brass rings in places where you should not poke holes".

If Dick seems comfortable with presenting himself as the put-upon nebbish, it may be because the role has served him so well. As an actor, Dick has been extremely prosperous post-"Stiller". There was a delicious cameo in "Reality Bites" as a video pirate, a performance I'm well-qualified to judge since I'd swear it was based on one of my ex-bosses. Dick was also featured in a supporting role in the 1995 comedy "In the Army Now"; a film that forced me to break a pact I'd made long ago about never viewing a Pauly Shore movie.

His television career also took off in 1995, when he pulled the coup of starring in two network shows simateanously--Fox's "Get Smart" revival and NBC's "NewsRadio". This was a feat not seen since the early 80s, when Heather Locklear could be seen on both "Dynasty" and "T.J. Hooker". The double-bill didn't last long, however, when "Get Smart" was drummed in the ratings. Dick seemed unconcerned, however, since he had already gone on the record as saying "NewsRadio" was the superior show. TV Guide criticized Dick in its infamous "Jeers" column, for what they considered to be Dick "putting down" his own program. Dick's response to Entertainment Weekly was: "All I said was that I preferred 'NewsRadio'..."

With good reason. Created by Paul Simms, one of the minds behind Garry Shandling's hilarious "The Larry Sanders Show",

"NewsRadio" was quickly proclaimed "the season's best new comedy" by The Wall Street Journal. With a cast Entertainment Weekly proclaimed to be a "perfectly-tuned" ensemble, "NewsRadio" has thrived critically and creatively. As reporter Matthew Brock, Dick is given the opportunity to display his unique talent for scene stealing without falling into stereotyping. Perhaps most importantly, "NewsRadio" has brought Dick the commercial success he so richly deserves.

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