Santa Barbara's ingratiating A. Bartlett Congdon

 By Gabrielle Winkel, Soap Opera Weekly, 1991

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There are a few residents of Santa Barbara who actually like the soon-to-be ex-DA Keith Timmons (John Novak), and only one is proud to admit it - the DA's assistant A. Bartlett Congdon (Brian Backer). Congdon is, in Backer's opinion, "very bright and ambitious. He wants to get ahead in the DA's office. He is willing to do anything and everything to get that accomplished, including making himself indispensable to Keith, his hero. He wants to be a junior Keith Timmons." And only a junior Keith Timmons would get great glee out of confessing to his boss that he's love to, "tie any particularly pesky foes down on an anthill inhabited by South American army ants."

The powers at Santa Barbara liked Backer and wanted to find a part for him. "I tested for the Capwell mausoleum caretaker. But they said I was too likable. If there was another part that I seemed right for I would get it. Of course, actors hear that all the time. But it turned out to be exactly that way, they called me up, said we have a part for you. And I didn't even have to test." "I actually have been a fan of the show from the first episode. It was very exciting to be there with all the people I'd been watching - C.C., Gina and Julia. And they were... very nice to me," Backer remembers.

Backer made a big splash on the acting scene about 10 years ago, when his first professional theatre job netted him a Tony Award for best featured actor in a play, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Drama Desk Award and the Theatre World Award given to newcomers. The role was in the much-written-about Woody Allen play, The Floating Lightbulb, directed by Ula Grosbard at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center. "Everything happened so quickly at that time in my life. I was not really prepared. I was totally in a daze," recalls Backer about the night he won the Tony. "I was so floored I didn't even thank my mother, which to this day I am kicking myself about. I guess I'll just have to win an Oscar or something."

Backer's next role was one he almost didn't take - Fast Times at Ridgemont High. "At first I didn't want to do it. It seemed like one of the teen exploitation movies that they were making so much of then. But my agent said, "Do it, you are the most likeable character in the movie (Backer played Mark)." So I did it and it turned out to be another great experience. To this day people remember me from that film." Reflecting on his back to back successes, the actor readily admits that, "There was definite anti-climax. (I had to realize), now it's time to treat this like a job. Every role, every experience is not going to be great. (I had to) just keep working and try to grow and evolve as an actor."

Roles don't fall into Backer's lap - yet - he's been supporting himself as an actor for 11 years. He's enjoyed this stint on Santa Barbara and, who knows, Timmons may no longer be the DA, but there's always private practice. And every good lawyer needs a great associate.