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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Andy’s hoping ‘Quintuplets’ can take him off the Richter

Andy Richter
 (The Spokesman-Review)
Rebecca Louie New York Daily News

One sidekick stint, several movie roles and a canceled sitcom later, Andy Richter still wants to be on TV.

“I fully understand the reality of the business of television,” says Richter.

His last show, “Andy Richter Controls the Universe,” was canned last year. But on Wednesday, the former couch-cohort of late-night talk host Conan O’Brien returns to Fox as a TV dad on “Quintuplets.”

During an interview in a hotel restaurant, the cherubic-faced 37-year-old dips his toast in egg yolks, pinky raised — and talks about being a TV star.

“You are not making gourmet food. You’re making cheeseburgers,” he says. “I’m fine with that, I just want to make good cheeseburgers. I don’t want to make a lousy cardboard, lukewarm imitation.”

As an appetizer, Richter appeared in two recent movies. In Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen‘s “New York Minute,” he played the adopted son of a Chinese crime family. Attempting a broad Chinese accent, Richter uses martial arts and street smarts to capture the twins, who posses a coveted microchip of pirated music.

“The first day they filmed, the studio freaked out, worried that it was some sort of racist portrayal,” says Richter.

“People can be offended, but if the character was of Scandinavian descent and the adopted son of the Irish mafia and spoke with a brogue, nobody would complain. What’s the difference?”

And in the romantic comedy “Seeing Other People,” Richter was the sensitive, milk-drinking foil to his oversexed buddies played by Jay Mohr and Josh Charles.

“I don’t have the shelflike abs to get those Ashton Kutcher, younger single roles,” says Richter. “If I’m single in something now, it’s as the loser single.”

Richter is not a loser single in real life. The actor from Yorkville, Ill., lives in Los Angeles with wife Sarah and their 3-year-old son, Willy.

Richter has worked steadily since ditching his seven-year stint on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” in 2000, but he still has to deal with the belief that he plays second fiddle better than any other type of role.

“They’re slowly getting the idea, ‘Oh, you’re not an idiot,’ ” he says. “Initially, it was a bit patronizing, like, ‘Oh, you have something to say? How cute that you weigh in like that.’ ”

Richter attributes some of this attitude to the failure of “Universe,” despite great reviews.

“I felt the show was completely hamstrung by some people in charge who didn’t either understand it or didn’t like it and didn’t give it a chance,” says Richter.

In his mind, the show never overcame poor advertising by Fox, inconsistent scheduling and a midseason start.

“They put you on an ice floe, then push you into the Arctic Ocean, and they say, ‘Hope you survive! See you later!’ ”

Richter has his fingers crossed for “Quintuplets,” which airs Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. after the Paris Hilton reality show sequel “The Simple Life 2: Road Trip.”

“It’s like all of these trains are leaving the station,” he says. “First, you’re lucky to get on one. But you have no idea where it’s going.

“Either it ends in the middle of nowhere, or it keeps going and going and it’s great.”

The birthday bunch

Actor Gene Barry is 81. Singer Rod Argent (The Zombies) is 59. Singer Janet Lennon (The Lennon Sisters) is 58. Drummer Alan White (Yes) is 55. Singer Boy George is 43. Actress Yasmine Bleeth is 36. Actress Traylor Howard (“Two Guys and a Girl”) is 33. Actor Daryl Sabara (“Spy Kids”) is 12.