Jason Priestley, Canadian -- Chris Wahl, Sun

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Friday, September 12, 1997

Priestley's clearly Canadian

By BOB THOMPSON -- Toronto Sun
  Poster boy, yes Jason Priestley can be your little poster boy.
 Now some fans might be offended by the poster boy reference, but they would be the followers who don't follow Priestly's career closely enough.
  Those who do are looking forward to Priestley's co-starring role in Love And Death In Long Island, a Contemporary World Cinema festival film where the Vancouver native lovingly lampoons his teen-throb movie star good looks, portraying an awful but well-meaning actor.
 In the comedy, that character becomes the obsession of an English widower (John Hurt) who tracks down the actor at his Long Island home.
 Hurt is the featured player in the lightly humorous piece, but it is Priestley who mocks himself wisely and winningly.
 "It was good, healthy, Canadian irony for me to play that character, given my baggage," said the Beverly Hills 90210 TV star yesterday at the Sheraton Hotel.
 "What a great way for me to send up my career, and not be mean about it."
 Expect some more low-budget lunacy from the 29-year-old, car-racing, video-directing, likeable lad based in L.A. but proudly admitting to wry, self-deprecating Canadian content.
 He's in a movie comedy about TV writers called Hacks. "I'm in the first 10 minutes as an actor -- y'know, one of those asshole actors."
 He's also playing Jo Jo Hicks in a mockumentary about the country music scene. "It's about this guy who becomes a country superstar, and I play an established country star who has his own hair care products and TV show."
 Priestley might even direct another Barenaked Ladies video -- he did The Old Apartment last year -- sometime in the fall.
 Meanwhile, he's spoken for until next April, acting, writing and directing Beverly Hills 90210 episodes.
 Eight years later, Priestley is far more than another pretty face on the show, and he feels the pressure that goes with it.
 "The finger is always pointing at me," he said. "That's okay. It's a responsibility I gladly took on."
 So 250 episodes and counting how many more?
 "I said so many times that it's done. I'm not going to get trapped by saying that again.
 "But if it ends this April, I think we can walk away very happy."
 If it does finish, expect high drama in keeping with Priestley's motto -- "Go big, or go home"

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