Be afraid, David E. Kelley. Be very afraid. Out of Harvard for just five years, playwright Samuel Baum already has two series in the works and, just for good measure, a feature film, too.
First up for the scribe a handsome palooka who looks like he ought to be auditioning to play bashful hunks on Aaron Spelling soaps is the WB's youthful MacGyver update, with Gilmore Girls sweetheart Jared Padalecki as Clay, the nephew of Richard Dean Anderson's character from ABC's 1985-92 hit, and original executive producer Henry Winkler on board once again. "It's been an excruciating writing process for me," Baum tells TV Guide with a laugh, "because I, of course, have to try all these [makeshift gadgets and] MacGyverisms out before I write them. I've actually blown off every finger on both hands rigging all the things that Clay uses."
Also on Baum's drawing board is Hometown, an NBC/PAX dramedy about a young politician who is forced to share quarters with his incorrigible grandmother after she's kicked out of her retirement community for "gross misbehavior." "There aren't as many explosions in this show," its creator says, tongue in cheek, "but by Season Four, whoa huge action!" All kidding aside, if Baum's wit alone doesn't put Hometown on the map, he could always call on old friends to provide guest-star power: The sometime actor has shared the stage with the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke.
For the moment, though, Baum's head is still spinning from the whirlwind of activity that followed the optioning of his first play, Breakfast All Day (think a modern-day Diner), by the suits behind the sexy indie sleeper Kissing Jessica Stein. "I moved out to L.A., and five months later," marvels the native New Yorker, "I was writing MacGyver and working with the Fonz!" Can a photo op with Michelle Pfeiffer be far behind?