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CMU grad gets his first leading role in ‘Traveler’

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Date: May 10, 2007

Actor Matthew Bomer, a 2000 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, is well aware of the tepid greeting viewers gave last fall’s batch of dark, conspiracy-filled serialized dramas, so he’s quick to differentiate his new dark, conspiracy-filled, ABC serial “Traveler.”

“Something I think it’s important for people to know is that every question raised in the pilot of this series is answered by the eighth episode, and new questions are brought up for future seasons,” Bomer said last week. “It’s not a serialized show that writes itself into a corner.”

The Spring, Texas, native completed production on the show’s eight-episode first season in December. “Traveler” has been on a shelf at ABC since then as executives probably wanted to gain some distance from similar-themed programs that bombed last fall.

Bomer is a proponent of the network’s strategy, premiering “Traveler” after the monster hit “Grey’s Anatomy” tonight and then waiting to roll out additional episodes in its regular time slot (10 p.m. Wednesday) later in the month.

“They want to get buzz going and have a strong premiere after ‘Grey’s’ when the most people are watching,” he said. “If enough people watch and enjoy it, then maybe we’ll have a strong opening on the 30th rather than starting cold behind some reality series. It’s really a boon to us that ABC chose to do this.”

“Traveler” is Bomer’s first series lead. He was a co-star on Fox’s “Tru Calling” in its first season and had parts in the films “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” and with Jodie Foster in “Flight Plan.”

“I took that job so I could watch Jodie Foster working for three months,” Bomer said of his role as a flirtatious flight attendant. He said he learned a lot about acting from Foster, but also “decorum and how to behave, her composure and how she handled herself. She was incredibly gracious and open and allowed me to sit in on the rehearsal process to watch how it all goes down. I’ll always be grateful to her for that.”

Bomer was in the running to play the Man of Steel in the long-in-gestation “Superman” film that hit theaters last summer. He auditioned for a director, Brett Ratner, who subsequently left the project, which pretty much scotched Bomer’s chance at the role, a not atypical Hollywood situation. Brandon Routh donned the cape in last summer’s Bryan Singer-directed “Superman Returns.”

“I screen tested for it in costume, did everything I needed to, but Brett pulled out of the project,” Bomer said. (He didn’t get any pictures of himself in the Superman costume because it was top secret at the time.) “I think they did a great job, and the guy they cast was fantastic. They chose the perfect guy to play the role.”

Bomer hasn’t been idle since wrapping production of “Traveler.” He also filmed the NBC comedic drama pilot “Chuck,” which has been generating some positive advance buzz. So what happens to “Traveler” if “Chuck” gets picked up?

Bomer is in what’s called “second position” on “Chuck,” meaning his first allegiance is to “Traveler.” If the ABC show gets renewed after its summer run (unlikely), the NBC show would have to replace Bomer with another actor.

These are luxurious problems to have as NBC prepares to announce its fall schedule and with it, the fate of “Chuck,” on Monday. Bomer went through the same “Will my show get picked up?” period with “Traveler” a year ago.

“I purposefully preoccupied myself, took vacation, went home and saw the family,” he said. “I wasn’t just sitting by the phone, waiting to reach out and grab the receiver.”