USA Today, Aug 3. 1987
(Provided courtesy of DC)

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Knox, going into battle against ‘Cosby’
By Tom Topousis

Knox going into battle-tTerence Knox is a survivor, but this fall he faces his biggest challenge yet.

He plays a platoon sergeant in Vietnam in CBS’ Tour of Duty, which goes up against TV’s No. 1 series, NBC’s The Cosby Show.

While the producers have promised to keep his character alive, the show’s future is less certain.

“I hope I’m not dying; it’s in my contract that I don’t,” Knox says.  His character on St. Elsewhere, Dr. Peter White, was shot and killed by a nurse seeking justice for a series of rapes in the hospital.

Knox, 36, the most recognizable face in Tour of Duty, doesn’t want to be called the star.  But as Sgt. Zeke Anderson, he’ll lead the platoon through war-torn Vietnam.

Tour of Duty is being billed as a realistic view of the war as seen through the eyes of the soldiers.  There’s little mention of political issues.

Knox going into battle-pic1And Knox is happy with that.  “I’m an actor.  I’ll try not to get too nuts about this because I’ve never been too political.”

He was born in Richland, Wash., and went to college at Washington State University and Portland State University, where he switched from writing to acting.

As an amateur boxer in high school and college, he compiled a 56 and 1 record.  But he never fought outside the ring.

“I do feel a certain amount of guilt not having gone (to Vietnam),” he says.  “but if it happened again, you’d still have to drag me.”

Knox says he respects the veterans who did fight.  Before a screening of the pilot in Washington, D.C., he went to see the Vietnam War Memorial.  “It was awe-inspiring.”

The pilot was filmed in Hawaii (as future episodes will be), with the U.S. Army’s Schofield Barracks serving as a backdrop.  Troops served as extras and performers relied on technical advice from soldiers.

“Most people 18 to 30 don’t even know which side we were fighting on.  This show will be their education.

“The responsibility inherent in that is really overwhelming,” he says.  It’s important we do it right.”

Vietnam veterans like what they’ve seen so far

Can TV’s Tour of Duty best the feature films Platoon and Full Metal Jacket?

Knox going into battle-pic2At a recent screening of the CBS fall series in Washington, D.C., two veterans became convinced this weekly show will responsibly depict the Vietnam War.

“TV (previously) has portrayed the veteran in a very poor way,” says Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill, a member of Vietnam Vets in Congress.  “This shows real human beings...and just what it was like to lose friends over there.”

Evans’ colleague, Rep. Robert Dornan, R-Calif., offers a more glowing review.  “Here is a show that does honor to the American serviceman,” Dornan says.

Dornan, a fighter pilot and later a TV reporter in Vietnam, was impressed by the series’ reality - and believes it could be better than Platoon.

Platoon was inherently dishonest.  Never was there one documented case of an American killing another American.”  Platoon featured two USA soldiers murdered by fellow soldiers.

By Brian Donlon

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