Paula Marshall Breaks Hearts on "Cupid"
By Andrew Wallenstein

It's Cupid, the Roman god of love, who makes hearts ache with just a pluck of his bow. And while Jeremy Piven may play the mythical diapered dandy in ABC's modern take on the tale, his co-star can also induce cardiac meltdown. As the super-sensible Dr. Claire Allen on Cupid, Paula Marshall has a habit of deflecting the title character's arrows, but she makes for one enticing target.

Even the delightfully deadpan Piven, formerly Ellen DeGeneres' roommate on her defunct sitcom, can't help but rave about his ravishing, raven-haired foil. "I think she's a solid actress who's great to work with, and I'm glad we got her," he told GIST TV in an interview. "She's also got really nice lips."

Heavy expectations are now riding on his chemistry with Marshall, who plays the psychiatrist contending with the man meddling in her singles counseling group. Cupid has the unusual distinction of being the only rookie series to actually be rewarded for low ratings. After several months of being weighed down by now-canceled lead-in Fantasy Island, ABC moved Cupid from Saturday night at 10 p.m.to Thursday at 9p.m. ET. That means Cupid is taking aim at NBC's vaunted sitcom Frasier, which is looking vulnerable in the old Seinfeld time slot after scoring shaky Nielsen numbers in November.

Marshall, 34, is familiar with the Seinfeld mystique; the NBC classic is where she her big break. You may recognize her from the famous episode that coined the phrase, "Not that there's anything wrong with that." She portrayed the fetching college journalist who "outed" Jerry and George after mistaking them for a gay couple.

"Of course, when it aired and everyone liked it so much and the catch phrase started following me around, I realized, 'Ohmigod, now I'm part of that history of TV's all-time classic clips,'" she says over drinks at an ABC network bash in Pasadena. "I'm up there with Mary Tyler Moore and Bozo the Clown. Life is OK."

She has come to terms with the fact that she'll never quite escape association with the sitcom. "Henry Winkler actually once said to me in an audition, 'Not that there's anything wrong with that.' And I was like, 'Oh man, Henry!'"

Seinfeld wasn't Marshall's first primetime exposure. After moving to California from her hometown of Rockville, MD, she snared a recurring role on The Wonder Years in 1988. After Seinfeld, she signed a development deal with NBC that earned her a prominent part on the ill-fated sitcom Chicago Sons. That led to a few episodes as Michael J. Fox's girlfriend on Spin City, where she caught the eye of Cupid's producers.

"I didn't realize I could do comedy until Seinfeld," she says. "And then everyone saying, 'Wow, you're funny.' And I was like, 'No, no, no, it was Jerry and Jason [Alexander] that were really funny around me. But they said I was able to hang with them."

Accepting the role on Cupid wasn't a no-brainer; the series shoots in Chicago and she had her heart set on staying in California, especially to be near her boyfriend, Bruno Campos, who plays Christina Applegate's love interest on NBC'sJesse. But the lure of an hourlong comedic drama drew her to the Windy City, and the couple is coping. "He's off every week, I'll come home a lot, and we e-mail a lot."

She isn't willing to stay away too long, though. She may just pull a David Duchovny and insist on working in the same state as her significant other. "If it goes on too many years, I may have to put my foot down," says Marshall.

Marshall just might have that power if she continues to make as lasting an impression on viewers as she did on Jerry Seinfeld. Two years after her role on his sitcom, she ran into him at a deli and he remembered her well. "I had my hair up in a ponytail, my sweatshirt on and no makeup, so I wasn't sure I should go up to him. But he saw me and said, 'Paula Marshall!' And I thought, 'Oh gosh! Jerry Seinfeld just remembered my first and last name. I just saw him again last year at the Nike store and I'm still amazed he knew who I was."

She may have to get used to it.

(article courtesy of Xinlei Du)