Darren takes familiar role on 'Deep Space Nine'

From Correspondent Jim Moret

(CNN) -- Nearly 40 years after crooning his way into young girls' hearts as "Moondoggie" in the movie "Gidget," James Darren is heading back to his swinging roots -- with a cyber twist.

Darren can currently be seen in "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" playing the part of Vic Fontaine , a 3-D computer-generated image who dispenses advice on love and life -- when he's not belting out ballads aboard the space station.

"He's a hologram, he's a performer, a guy who performed in Vegas in the '50s and '60s," Darren says of his character. "He's very street-wise."

Darren first appeared in the role in 1998, but has become a regular on "Deep Space Nine" as it heads into its seventh and final season.

He serves as the romantic catalyst between the characters of Maj. Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) and Odo (Rene Auberjonois).

Ira Steven Behr, the show's executive producer, says Darren is perfect for the role.

"We wanted to make sure that he had style, class, yet an openness," Behr says. "We didn't want someone who was slick or anything too brittle. We wanted someone who had a little bit of mensch in him."

Perhaps Darren has earned his "mensch." Leaving his "Gidget" days behind, Darren paid his dues in TV land, playing a supporting role as a cop opposite William Shatner in "T.J. Hooker" from 1983 to 1986. Shatner, of course, gained fame in the first "Star Trek" series as captain of the Starship Enterprise.

Darren then spent 10 years directing such television series as "Melrose Place" and "Beverly Hills 90210."

Now, he's returning to the role of swinging crooner.

Behr says Darren's role will be intrinsic to the plot as he helps the character of Odo, a shape-shifting security manager on board Deep Space Nine, earn the love of hard-headed coworker Kira, a former resistance fighter against the forces colonizing her home planet.

"We know that Odo is madly in love with the major, but he's a shape-shifter and
cannot quite express his feelings the way he would like, and she's an ex-terrorist and sees him as a friend," Behr says. "We've all been there, haven't we?"



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