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Leap of Faith

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Five years removed from his breakout role as the time-traveling scientist Samuel Beckett in “Quantum Leap,” Scott Bakula (currently starring in “Major League: Back to the Minors”) still hears the applause from his fans, often in unexpected locations. “I was at the Jefferson Memorial,” the 43-year-old actor recalls, “and a load of teenage kids got off the bus. It’s a respectful, quiet place, then all of a sudden I hear these screams and people started running at me &#091for autographs&#093. I was like ‘What’s happening here?’ It kind of destroyed the mood there.”

The mood among the loyal legion of “Quantum Leap” lovers has been one of disappointment ever since NBC canceled the show in 1993. Yet fan support is as strong as ever. No fewer than eleven “QL” websites are listed on Yahoo! (including the Quantum Leap Information Page). Many of them contain petitions imploring the show’s production company Universal Television to bring back the sci-fi series. Four newsgroups on Usenet — including rec.arts.sf.tv.quantum-leap and alt.tv.scott-bakula — are dedicated to the show. And “Quantum Leap” conventions continue to thrive in the U.S., Britain, and other countries, including July’s “KC Leap” in Kansas City, Missouri. Reruns of the series still air on the Sci-Fi Channel.

Bakula admits that his career has been “somewhat of a challenge since the show went off the air,” but he’s kept busy. His best-received role since “QL” was his three-year stint as foreign correspondent Peter Hunt on CBS’s “Murphy Brown.” Bakula has also appeared in such movies as Clive Barker’s “Lord of Illusions” and the football farce “Necessary Roughness.” He stars as another jock in “Major League: Back to the Minors,” the third installment of Warner Bros.’ Major League franchise

Bakula plays veteran-player-turned-minor-league -manager Gus Cantrell, who has to get past his big-league aspirations and mold a bunch of fledgling baseball eccentrics into a championship team. The actor recognizes certain parallels between his character’s situation and his own. “I hear some of the young actors talking about me the same way I always talked about the old guys,” says Bakula. “Now, I’ve become the old guy.”

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