Richard Cartwright, Abc
Michael Vartan, Joshua Malina, Christopher Titus, Dylan McDermott.

Not only are the four characters on "Big Shots" good buddies on-screen, but the actors who play them certainly seem like good buddies off camera.

In the new ABC series, which airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Channel 4, Joshua Malina, Dylan McDermott, Christopher Titus and Michael Vartan play business moguls who have each others' backs — but they're guys, so they love to needle each other, too.

And the actors also seem to have the same sort of relationship. They have even seen parallels between themselves and a certain iconic TV sitcom — "Happy Days."

"We all agreed that Dylan is Fonzie," said Titus. "And then Vartan is Richie Cunningham because (his character is) the moral center. And then we had an argument over who was Potsie or Ralph Malph.

"It turns out I'm Ralph Malph. So — not happy about it."

"It is what it is," Malina said. "Then we started casting 'The Godfather,' and he was still Ralph Malph."

COMPARED TO WHEN he was starring in his own sitcom, Titus said starring in "Big Shots" is "easy" because of "the time I can actually focus on acting."

"I don't have to be up in the writers' room all the time. I am really enjoying it and working with these guys," he said, adding that he's "learning a lot."

"I'm learning a lot from Dylan about how to be a superstar.... I'm following him around taking notes. I'm not kidding."

Yeah, well, I think he kind of was.

THAT "TITUS" SITCOM didn't come to a particularly happy end on Fox back in 2002. As a matter of fact, it was sort of nasty, and Titus had some unpleasant things to say about the executives who were running that network at the time. Which he turned into "quite a bit of material" in his stand-up comedy act for a while.

"And I realized I ... had been blessed with a lot of great stuff," Titus said. "And it was my fault.... That won't happen again."

IIN REAL LIFE, Titus is "in the middle of a divorce right now and a new relationship," he said. "So the show is really kind of like dead-on with what's happening.

"I lost 20 pounds in my divorce because that's what a soul weighs."

E-mail: [email protected]