stars shine after work
THE VICTIM OF THE WEEK," GRINS MATTHEW ASHFORD
(Tom, General Hospital),
who gets to play dead in the July 27  episode of Burke's
Law. Ashford portrays tennis superstar "Spider" Arthur,
an old college pal of Peter Burke (Peter
Barton, who played Scott Grainger
on The Young and the Restless), who meets his
demise prior to a tournament when he's bitten by an Atrax spider
that had been placed in his shoe.
While few tears are shed over the cocky, volatile pro's passing,
Peter feels the most remorse since he only remembers the pre-celebrity
Spider. Together Peter and Amos (Gene Barry)
work their way through a web of suspects to find the killer.
According to Ashford, with Spider's emergence as a tennis star,
"he got more and more nasty, and he alienated just about everybody
around him. Then, of all things, he dies a horrible, nasty death
from a spider bite," he says, noting that the character actually
collected the creepy crawlers. "And it was one of his own spiders
that bit him."
Ashford describes Spider as "a pretty wild guy... a pretty
racy character. He kind of ran around and did whatever he wanted
to do, saw who he wanted to see. He had a girlfriend (Stephanie
Romanov, who played Teri Stevens
and Monique Duran on Models, Inc.), but she
didn't have that much of a hold on him."
Since tennis was the character's specialty, Ashford had to reacquaint
himself with the sport. "I had not picked up a tennis racket
in 15 years, so I tried," he laughs. Fortunately, he did have
a double for the tennis-court scenes, which are shown in flashbacks
throughout the episode. "But the double was right-handed, and
I'm left-handed, so I ended up having to double the double. I had
to pretend I was right-handed, so he could shoot well."
Apparently, the show wasn't able to film Ashford's death scene on
location, as was originally planned. The management of the country
club where they were shooting that particular episode wouldn't allow
actors on its premises. "The were pretty hoity-toity,"
he explains. "So we had to go back to the studio to shoot the
Aside from not having played tennis for a long time, Ashford also
notes that it had been quite some time since he had to expire on-camera.
"I landed right on it -- perfectly. The crew was ecstatic.
I guess it meant that they got out earlier. So they gave me a big
round of applause."
While Ashford meets his maker in Burke's Law, he narrowly
escapes death in the feature film Species -- a science-fiction
thriller starring Ben Kingsley.
of an Aliens meets Looking for Mr. Goodbar," sums up
Ashford. "I have a tiny part in that. It's one of those 'don't
blink' kind of roles. I play a guy in a bar about to be picked up
by an alien creature who has adopted the form of a lovely young
woman. At the last minute another drunken girl falls into my lap,
takes my attention away from the alien, and I'm spared."
As for the character's billing in the film, Ashford says: "He
was either Guy in the Bar, or Good-Looking Guy in the Bar. But I
think they dropped the good-looking," the actor grins.
Burke's Law [aired] on CBS. Species is an MGM
release [at the time of the article was] currently in theaters nationwide.
JANET DI LAURO