'Cover Up' was the 1984 version of the 1965 show 'I Spy'. The TV series centered around 2 undercover agents played by Jennifer O'Neill and Jon-Erik Hexum who were working for a secret government agency. 'Cover Up' was created and produced by Glen Larson for 20th Century Fox and was originally shown on CBS. "One cannot discount the power of exposure on television," Jennifer told 'United Press International' and 'Scripps-Howard News' at the time. "If 'Cover Up' finds an audience, it will eventually help my career as an actress and open a few doors as a producer. My career priorities have changed quite a bit during the 14 years (since 1971).
"I'm in the middle of a 3-phase development program for myself. The first was sowing the seeds. There are a lot of things I still want to do as an actress, and the more you are involved in outside projects, the more you can bring to the screen. It all pyramids and blends together. Working with my young actors sharpens me for the screen. (At the time Jennifer ran a management and production company, Point of View, which was helping some 15 young actors and actresses looking for work.) My sports activities (horse riding) keep me in good physical condition. Right now (back in 1985) I'm in the 2nd phase, cultivating the facets of my life. The 3rd phase is reaping the harvest. I love film, music and performing. My goal is to intertwine them in a movie I will produce, score, edit and perform in. I want to touch all those bases."
Jennifer was 22 when she appeared in the movie, 'Summer of '42'. By the time she starred in 'Cover Up', Jennifer had turned 36. "Maybe one of these summers or winters, I'll be recalled as a talented producer," Jennifer made the comment at the time. "I'm not naïve about how difficult it is to find success in television. I was here before in 'Bare Essence', which really didn't work because the scripts were bad and the characters were completely unrealistic. But I'm never one to condemn television because I've been involved in a project which didn't work." 'Cover Up' finished the 1984-85 season attracting 13.3% of the 84.9 million households in the U.S. with TV sets.
Jon-Erik Hexum died during the filming of 'Cover Up'. Antony Hamilton, born in Liverpool, England but raised on a sheep farm in Australia replaced Jon-Erik because he "tested well, looked the part and CBS liked him." Antony maintained, "In life, destiny sometimes hands you something, and if it's right, you do it . . . I became a model (between 1974 and 1984) not because I was interested in fashion or styles, but because I knew it was a good way to see the world. And I was right. I worked in New York, London, Moscow, Hong Kong, Tokyo and all over Europe and Africa. It gave me independence . . . The money was good, too." Between the ages of 12 and 20, Antony learnt to become a ballet dancer. However "dancing was too confining and regimented for me. It was like living life with one hand tied behind your back."
It was understood Antony was orphaned at the age of 2 weeks. He was adopted by an Australian serving in the Royal Air Force, Donald Smith, and his English nurse wife. Donald Smith eventually retired to Australia and became a sheep farmer. Antony was raised on a 640-acre sheep farm near Adelaide. Associated Press also clarified Antony started taking acting and dancing lessons when he was 12 while a student at a private school. He won a scholarship to the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne. Afterward, he joined the Australian Ballet Company and in his first year Antony toured the Eastern Bloc nations and England. In the Soviet Union, it was reported, a Russian photographer took hundreds of pictures of Antony and gave him about 200 prints. It was then, Antony decided, "When we got to London I quit the ballet company and started looking around for some way to make some money."
Jennifer made known, "I've definitely fought moving to the West Coast for years. As a performer, as an actress, I never felt that I needed to. But to be involved in production, clearly it was something I eventually had to do – and then with the series, even more so. I’ve had to make my headquarters in Hollywood because this is where all my work is. Now (or at the time) I’m trying to find a house with some property that isn’t in a fire area, won’t slide down a mountain or be inundated by the ocean.
"Hollywood is not a place I like to be unless I am terribly busy – and that certainly will be the case this time – otherwise, you can feel atrophied there. Going into production, for me, was really a means to an end. I’m not all that thrilled with the business aspects, but it’s all part of the game. It afforded me the control I wanted. I do write and I’m very much involved with music. I want to act and I also want to direct."
Speaking to Vernon Scott in September 1984, Jennifer disclosed, "I didn’t know Jon-Erik’s work when they flew me here for talks 4 months ago (back in June 1984). We met for half an hour and I felt we could work well together. Afterwards, he drove me to the airport . . . He reminded me of my brother. We're still getting to know each other. Most of this first 10 weeks (filming of the show began in the last week of August 1984) has been pleasant.
"It's not that easy to get to know someone. In movies you work for a certain length of time and the film is over. In TV you work faster with less rehearsal. We’re still finding out about our characters. We'd like more time to work on scenes as a team. 75% of our scenes are played together. It’s a good thing we’re friends. I’d like to see the characters come off like Mr and Mrs North in the old 'Thin Man' movies with William Powell and Myrna Loy. So far there's no romance between the 2 characters, but maybe viewers will get a sort of feeling about them. Casting is a key consideration. If you’re a professional, you make it work."
Jon-Erik made the observation, "A lot of people in this business have to work with co-stars they really dislike. It would probably be a bad idea for co-stars to have a romantic relationship. What if it was intense, and you broke up after a while?" Jennifer mentioned, "I had a relationship with a French actor for 2 years while we made 3 films in Europe. In the middle of the 3rd film he was unable to separate our personal and professional relationships. It was a nightmare."