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Steve Guttenberg seeks a comeback ... via Broadway

October 15, 2011 |  1:51 pm

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A couple decades ago, long before he became known mainly for popping up on basic-cable ''Where Are They Now" shows, the actor Steve Guttenberg was everywhere. He starred in numerous comedy-film franchises ("Police Academy" "Three Men and a Baby," "Short Circuit" ) and even took a turn on Broadway, replacing Timothy Hutton in "Prelude to a Kiss" in 1991.

Guttenberg is hoping the Great White Way can be his ticket back to the A-list. After 20 years of appearing in, well, nothing you were likely to see, the actor stars in "Relatively Speaking," the trio of one-acts written by Elaine May, Ethan Coen and Woody Allen that opens at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre Thursday. (Guttenberg appears in "Honeymoon Motel," the segment written by Allen; he plays the father of a groom who falls in love with the bride.)

In a story in Sunday's Times, Guttenberg, 53, explains that his absence from the scene hasn't been for lack of trying. All he's wanted, he says, is to "be at Yankee Stadium," not the second-tier ballparks he's been relegated to, and to work with top-tier creative types. (The notion of "working with the best," though, may be in the eye of the beholder: Among the people Guttenberg said he'd love to pair up with is Michael Bay, the director behind quiet auteur pieces such as "Transformers" and "Armageddon.")

As for why he hasn't been in more high-profile shows or movies since his 1980s heyday, the perpetually sunny actor has an unusual theory -- he thinks he may have just have been too nice to persuade producers to hire him. "I think sometimes [my] kindness is taken as a weakness," he said. "If you're too nice to the doorman, you won't get your packages as quickly."

Read The Times' profile of Steve Guttenberg.

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-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Steve Guttenberg, left, and Peter van Norden in "Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment." Credit: Warner Bros.

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