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On the Scene: When You're Hot, You're 'Hot!'
Is TV's "Hot Properties" too hot to … Handler?
No. Evan Handler can handle it; after all, he's had sex and the city, so what's another Manhattan matchup going to mean?
A lot, as it turns out. Harry Goldenblatt of "Sex and the City" has gone uptown, upscale, from plain Joe to player in this new Friday-night ABC comedy.
Call it the network's newest realty series, where four women land jokes as real estate brokers going for broke in the meet market of Manhattan.
As for Handler, 43, it's a Sellers market: He's Dr. Sellers Boyd, the "cute" and cuddly therapist whose own life is couched in tsuris.
Doctor, hell thyself: He's divorced.
Playing the neighbor down the hall is a good neighborhood to be in, Handler will tell you. After all, as Goldenblatt on "Sex and the City," he was a supporting star, too, which didn't prevent him from being cast in the spotlight for a march down the aisle with sweet, sweet Charlotte (Kristin Davis).
Handler has no illusions about the illustrious company he's in now, either: "You have to always remember it as a show about four ladies, and they have to weave those stories together. I think you have to remember you're never going to be closer than fifth in line for 'Letterman.'
"And you have to remember if [star] Sofia Vergara" - one of the hotties of "Hot Properties" - is ever going for the makeup chair, you get out of the way fast."
Not that he's ever been in the way. Well … maybe that one time.
That was in 1991, when the wickedly erratic Nicol Williamson didn't relish sharing the stage with his young co-star in "I Hate Hamlet" on Broadway.
To be or not to be … a putz. Williamson opted for the former and, mid-performance, gave Handler such a kanock on his shoulders with a sword, Handler not only hated "Hamlet," he hated being there.
The actor turned around, walked off the stage … and kept on walking.
"I look back at that incident, in which he hit me, with a mixture of laughter and hatred," says Handler now, shaking his shaved head.
Of course, the actor who later played Shrug in the short-lived comedy "It's like you know …" can, you know, shrug it off now. He's had so much success since, that the Polonius pummeling he took in the Paul Rudnick comedy never had him thinking of getting to a nunnery.
But then, he is Jewish. And so much of the tics and tam of his heritage were on display as Harry.
Not that Sellers buys into the same characterization. "Oh, no, he's so different from Harry," smiles Handler.
And, to a degree, so is Handler although "people often confuse me with the character."
Not confusing is the clear impact sickness has had on him. During a tour of "Biloxi Blues," Handler was handed news that fueled his own personal blues: He had cancer.
The actor's shaved head is a look he cultivated not for fashion originally, but out of operative need. "That changed me forever," he says of his battle against and victory over the cancer.
And it changed his career. An accomplished writer with many magazine credits on his résumé, he wrote an off-Broadway play fueled by his sadness and sickness, "Time on Fire: My Comedy of Errors."
The 1996 autobiographical account of what he was trying to avoid as the ultimate act of his life also sparked a book. In subsequent years, Handler took the play on the road and continued doing it "in a shortened version at health-care conferences."
Did he feel himself conferring with a Higher Authority at that time?
"I am a strong cultural Jew, but not religious, although I find the religion poignant," he says. "But I'm the type of person not to turn to it as a lifeline. I was raised to have faith in oneself."
But sometimes, even Evan is taken with the faith others have in the hereafter. In Time on Fire, he wrote about an experience at the hospital in which a rabbi, by his bedside, performed a service to thwart the angel of death.
It was a service in which "the individual's life is discussed, and a new name is assigned. A birth certificate is filled out, using the date from the Hebrew calendar, and presto - with a new name, the person is safe. Unidentifiable. The angel of death goes looking, but he is fooled.
"Fooled by the cunning of a rabbi from Great Neck."
It is a great anecdote in an incredibly rich life, laden with happiness and tears - and that thwack across the shoulders from a cantankerous co-star.
And, no, that Harry Goldenblatt's divorce lawyer has ceded to Dr. Sellers Boyd, a divorced therapist, Handler happily - and ironically - needs neither of their services, having been married two years ago and still floating in honeymooner heaven.
He's also become one hot property himself, this fifth one down the couch on "Letterman" now sitting pretty on a new series. From Harry the lawyer, to Sellers the therapist: Evan Handler, ever the professional.
What's next: "By Numbers, CPA"?
Uh … no. The actor's looking for a long lease on his current part. As hot as he is, Handler could still use a good real estate agent. But that one hot property still eludes the "Hot Properties" star.
"I went to look for one in Santa Monica," says the actor, "and I couldn't afford it."