Cohen is Living the Fantasy
All three major networks are relying on Scott Cohen to some degree during the February sweeps. The little-known actor stars as a part-wolf, part-human in NBC's 10-hour fantasy saga The 10th Kingdom, the story of an alternate dimension full of fairy-tale characters . He also plays real-life police detective Steve Thomas in CBS' miniseries on the JonBenet Ramsey slaying, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town. (Cohen will compete against himself for ratings when Kingdom and Murder premiere Feb. 27.)
On ABC, he has a three-episode guest spot on NYPD Blue as an alcoholic cop who gets involved with Diane Russell (Kim Delaney). He began his turn on NYPD Blue on Feb. 8 and will appear tonight and next week.
Talk about a good month. Cohen, a New York native whose credits include the HBO films Gia and Gotti, is probably best known for a Volkswagen Passat commercial in which he makes eyes at a woman in another car before being brought back to reality when his toddler throws a stuffed octopus at him.
"This time last year I was readying to go out for pilot season," says Cohen, 35. "This year I'm entering pilot season again, and now I can say I've done some of the most incredible television work."
It took practically every day of those 12 months to complete all of his sweeps work. Beginning last February, Cohen spent seven months preparing and shooting 10th Kingdom. A week after Cohen returned to New York from filming in Europe, NYPD Blue producer David Milch called and offered him a limited-engagement recurring role.
"In a second, I said I would do it," Cohen says. "But the day before I left, I auditioned for (the) JonBenet Ramsey (TV movie). I didn't really want to audition. I have a kid (4-year-old son Liam), and my mother had just died. So the topic wasn't appealing. But I got the script, and I said, 'Why is this script so good?'"
He got the role of Thomas, a Boulder, Colo., detective who is obsessed with finding Ramsey's killer, and started working on that project three days after finishing NYPD Blue.
Although Cohen is not the highest-profile actor in any of his performances this month, he is able to hold his own -- particularly in Kingdom, which includes such players as John Larroquette, Camryn Manheim, Dianne Wiest, Ann-Margret and Ed O'Neill.
"He was not intimidated by it at all," Kingdom director David Carson says. "In a funny way, it liberated the daring side of his acting in that he didn't bring any heavy acting baggage to the role." Now that his prolific year is complete, Cohen isn't too worried about having any newfound baggage. He's just looking for his next job. Milch told him there is a possibility his NYPD Blue character will return, and Cohen is auditioning for pilots, but nothing has clicked yet.
"I read scripts, and I find myself saying it is going to be hard to match those things I did this year," he says. "But I have to be careful (not to be too selective), because while I might feel different after all this work, I don't know if the industry feels different about me."