Is James Van Der Beek allowed to see Katie Holmes?
It was the question that left James Van Der Beek, the teen heartthrob of yesteryear from his days on "Dawson's Creek," blushing under his manly beard: Are you allowed to see Katie Holmes? -- insinuating his former costar on the teen soap leads a sheltered life as wife of Tom Cruise.
The Beek from the Creek, as ABC entertainment chief Paul Lee calls him, could only muster a giggle -- that Dawson Leery girlie giggle -- when the million-dollar question presented itself during the panel for ABC's series "Don't Trust The B---- in Apartment 23," which Van Der Beek stars in, during the Television Critics Assn. press tour on Tuesday.
He never did answer the question. But Van Der Beek's role as the sensitive dreamer on the long-running WB series was a recurring point of discussion during the panel. In "Apt. 23," he plays a larger-than-life version of himself, caught up in the fame he achieved from "Dawson's Creek." When asked at what point enough time had passed to embrace and poke fun at the flannel-loving, sweater-wearing, man-crying character: "I think once the residual money ran out it became OK to make fun of it," he said.
Playing himself seems to be Van Der Beek's forte these days. Last year, he appeared as himself -- killing unicorns with lasers? -- in Ke$ha's music video for "Blow." And then there's the Funny Or Die videos. But landing the gig as The Beek on the ABC comedy wasn't such a sure thing.
"I had to audition against six other James Van Der Beeks," he joked. "I was lucky that four were not actors and two did not speak English."
Joking aside, the role had originally been written with another former teen heartthrob, 'N Sync's Lance Bass, in mind. But how much can you tease a dude who danced without irony with four other guys for years and, also, wanted to go to space?
"Don't Trust the B---- In Apartment 23" actually centers around two odd-couple girl roomies, played by Krysten Ritter ("Breaking Bad") and Dreama Walker ("The Good Wife"). It will premiere in April.
-- Yvonne Villarreal
Photo: James Van Der Beek, Krysten Ritter and Dreama Walker of "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23." Credit: ABC