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LOS ANGELES – Alan Cumming is the first actor to play a gay leading character on a network drama.

But, the Tony winner cautions, sexuality isn’t the most interesting aspect of the character. “It’s the fourth or fifth most interesting,” he says.

In “Instinct,” the character – a former CIA operative who writes best sellers – has been lured out of retirement to help solve crimes in New York City. Unbeknownst to family and friends, he agrees to do it and begins a double life.

Based on a James Patterson novel, “Instinct” has a new case each week and a continuing storyline that offers insight into Cumming’s Dr. Dylan Reinhart. Executive Producer Michael Rauch says Reinhart was gay in the book and also in a same-sex marriage. “Use as much of the book as you want or use as little of the book as you want,” Patterson told him, which, Rauch says, was “incredibly liberating.”

“Most times when we see gay characters on American television, especially, their gayness is the prime thing,” Cumming says. “And the gayness is somehow a problem.” In “Instinct,” it’s just a given.

“We have a kiss and a cuddle,” Cumming explains. “But it’s not a big makeout thing. When I come home, I kiss the dogs first and then my husband. I wanted this to be a grown-up, adult same-sex relationship.”

Like “Elementary,” another CBS whodunit, “Instinct” has plenty of auxiliary texture.

“He’s sort of a fuddy-duddy professor, a bit of a dandy. He drives a motorbike. He’s gay. There are so many different layers,” Cumming says. “The challenge was to make them all into one sort of a whole person.”

Complicating matters? Serial killers are using bits from his first book as clues, which bring him into the world of the New York Police Department.

A regular on “The Good Wife,” Cumming thought he would go back to being a “paripatetic” actor after that series ended but got the “Instinct” offer and realized he could shoot in New York and maintain the life he had established as a Broadway actor.

Even better, the large talent pool there would help fuel the guest cast.

Also an executive producer, Cumming says he wanted to make sure a relaxed vibe on set was part of the experience. He told Rauch and others he had two demands: vegan options at catering and sense that cast and crew felt appreciated.

“Salad is not a vegan option,” he remembers telling those who wanted to bring in special food just for him. “This is New York City.”

And the second caveat? “If you feel good about coming to work, you’re going to give your best,” the 53-year-old says.

He frequently invites the cast and crew to his bar, Club Cumming, at the end of the work week. The New York establishment evolved out of a practice he had on Broadway. After performances of “Cabaret,” he invited cast and crew to his dressing room for drinks. The “spirit of my dressing room” carried over into the work.

Now, the 53-year-old says, he gets the best of both Broadway and television worlds. Hoping to shoot a film about a group of artists during World War II, he’s able to access another as well.

Born in Scotland, Cumming says he didn’t know what to make of the United States when he moved her more than 20 years ago.

“I saw Christopher Guest’s film, ‘Waiting for Guffman’ and it was very educational for me. I thought if that was being parodied, it must exist. It taught me a lot about American life, small-town life.

“It’s my favorite film. It’s hilarious and so touching at the same time.”

Now, Cumming is so enamored with New York, he feels like a native. “When I go to Scotland, I feel like an outsider…and that’s a nice place to be.”

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