Entries from August 2009

INTERVIEW: Sally Pressman (Roxy LeBlanc) from Army Wives

August 28th, 2009

If you haven’t watched Army Wives, what are you waiting for? It is in its third triumphant season, and it is an amazing show. It is so unique because it covers a topic that isn’t seen anywhere else on tv, and is not afraid to shy away from real issues. It may air on Lifetime, but it’s not just for women. There are army husbands, children, and friends too. I absolutely love it. I think the acting is fantastic, the storylines are genuine and interesting, and I look forward to it every Sunday night. I can’t say enough great things about this show. I recently had a chance to chat with Sally Pressman, who plays the free-spirited Roxy LeBlanc, about her character, meeting real army wives, and what we might expect from her for the rest of the season.

I have to say, I love Army Wives.
Thank you.

What do you like most about playing Roxy?
I think she’s just the best character to play. She’s so much fun, she’s so honest, she’s so loving, and I also love when she sticks her foot in her mouth all the time. And I like that she doesn’t take anyone’s crap, you know, but she’s a really good person at the same time.

A big storyline this season has been the revitalization of the Hump Bar. Why do you think it’s so important for Roxy to be independent and have this place for herself?
Yes definitely. I think the big thing this season has been like you know, they made the Hump Bar when they made it Betty’s, kind of like an Applebees. It lost its like, hump bar feel, so the main thing this season was right off the bat trying to get it back on track as like the nitty gritty, southern, no-frills bar. That was a really important thing, because that really is what represents Roxy. You know? And I think it had gotten away from what it was the first season, and became something else and then in the third season it was like, you have to stop apologizing for who you are. No apologies. Just be who you are, and let the restaurant be who you are.

You grew up in New York. What is it like playing someone from the South, how different is it?
It’s very different. There’s no question about it. You know, I’m from New York, so it’s very interesting to play someone from the south–like from the heart of the south, too–the kind of trailer park part of the south is so interesting. And we shoot in the south, so it’s easy in that regard, and it’s a community that I love being a part of. I love that we get to shoot in Charleston, I just love it.

Do you film on an actual army base, or just a reconstructed one?
We film on an old Navy base, not an actual army base. We also film on stages, and all around Charleston. The set is more indigenous to Charleston than it is to an actual post.

And another big storyline has been the new family dog, Lucky. Is it hard being mean to him?
It’s impossible because I’m like the biggest dog person ever. I couldn’t love dogs and animals more. I’m actually vegan, so like dogs and animals are like humans to me. I just love them so much. So the trainer actually had to tell me a trick…whenever I’m yelling at the dog, I look over the dog’s eyes, and then yell. And when you do that, it doesn’t associate that you’re yelling at it. So I’m there yelling right over the dog’s eyes–like a couple inches over the dog’s eyes. (laughs).

(laughs) Well that’s good that he knows that you like him.
I know. After they would yell cut, I’d be like “I love you, I’m sorry, I love you, I love you.”

Army Wives tackles a lot of really tough issues, but it also has some funny moments, too. How do you think the show keeps a balance between the two?
I think the writers work really hard to strike that balance. There is a lot of drama intrinsically…we have a lot of fun together on set, and they try to capture all of that too…you know, the humor and the fun and the fact that these women really love each other, and they love their families. And a lot of the time, just dealing with trauma, you just have to laugh.

The cast has done a lot of community service–like last season with Army Wives Gives Back. How was that?
It’s amazing. You know, we’ve done a lot of stuff with army wives and it’s phenomenal. We get the best response from them, and it’s great to like get in the community, that we’re every day having to represent.

Have you met a lot of Army Wives through the show?
Oh yeah. Oh my God, so many. And I think that you know, we’ve got about 4 million viewers for the show, and I think like 3.99 million of them are army wives. We’ve got the fullest support.

The show really centers around this group of friends. What is it like working with your cast?
We’re so unbelievably blessed, because we all get along so well. And we’re all professionals, and we all like each other, and it’s kind of like an extended family that we all have there.

Do you have a favorite episode that you’ve filmed?
Well, it’s an upcoming episode. It’s a flashback to a different decade. And it was a huge undertaking, and we were all kind of like “ughh, this is going to be so frustrating, this is going to be so annoying, this is going to be so much work,” and it was, it was so, so, so much work, but I think it’s going to turn out to be just epic. I think it’s going to be phenomenal.

You have a background in ballet, did you always know you wanted to be an actress or did you switch gears at some point?
I did. I mean there was a point when I realized that it was really the performance that I was the most attached to, that it wasn’t as much the dancing, that I just loved being on stage and performing. And when I was in college, I took a break from dancing and acting and it was at that point when I came back that I was like I want to do acting for the rest of my life.

Without giving too much away, can you give us a little teaser of what we can expect from Roxy and the rest of the season?
The biggest way that I can give [a teaser] and not give anything away, is that Roxy’s got two main worlds. She’s got the world at home, and she’s got the world at her bar. I think the end of the season, there’s a big change to both of those worlds. And there’s not a calamity, but something that Roxy and Trevor have been discussing through the whole season, and even into the second s
eason comes to a head. And so that’s really the biggest thing. And I think viewers are really going to like it.

I’ve also heard you are a big tv fan. What are your favorite shows?
The ones that are on my mind right now, because they are just starting are Mad Men (of course, absolutely huge). I’m a new huge fan of Hung, which is on HBO. I also love Grey’s Anatomy and Lost and 30 Rock, and The Office. Those are like huge, huge favorites of mine. And I love Dexter. I can watch the Food Network like 24/7, which I’m actually in the process of watching right now.

What would you say to viewers who have maybe only seen a few episodes, or haven’t tuned in yet–why should they watch Army Wives?

I think the reason why you should watch Army Wives, is because there’s something very addicting about it. And as much as I think that people say it’s kind of like a soap opera, it actually represents real life and I think the actors on the show–every single one of them–really portrays the reality of the situation. And I also think that there aren’t a lot of tv shows on that can say that they’re helping a group of people, that they mean something to a group of people. And it’s a group of people that’s very pertinent in the world we’re living in right now, and I think that everyone kind of needs to be exposed to that…see what is going on in the home front.

Is there anything else you want to add?
I’m so happy that you’re a fan of the show. It just makes me so happy.

Of course! I look forward to watching it every week. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me.
Thank you!

Army Wives airs every Sunday night at 10pm on Lifetime. The season finale is October 11th.

FALL TV PREVIEW – Hank + News about the show

August 27th, 2009

Let me start this post off by saying I love Frasier. In college, I could always fall asleep to the soothing sounds of Frasier Crane’s voice. And even now, I enjoy reruns of the show. However, Hank is no Frasier. The show centers around Hank Pryor (Kelsey Grammar), who just lost his job as a powerful CEO of a sporting goods company, and has to move back to Virginia. He is forced to deal with his family and his new life. The second most familiar face is David Koechner who plays Grady, his brother-in-law. The concept is clever, but it felt like Frasier loses his job. Kelsey Grammar is just so ingrained in my mind as Frasier Crane, that it’s hard to see him as anyone else. I laughed a few times, I will admit that. But overall, it fell short as a new sitcom. I think it needs to focus on the laughs and less on the crazy antics and the jokes about the “small” house and lack of a maid. I love Kelsey Grammar, and I hope he finds success in this show, but I’m just not sold.

However, Michael Ausiello (EW Ausiello Files) reported yesterday:

“Lauren Graham’s ex-Gilmore Girls BFF Melissa McCarthy — who just wrapped a two-year run as a member of Christina Applegate’s entourage on Samantha Who? — is joining the ABC sitcom on a recurring basis, sources confirm to me exclusively. McCarthy is playing Dawn, the wife of David Koechner’s Grady and sister-in-law to Grammer’s Hank.”

I love Gilmore Girls. If you have read some previous posts, you know that it is one of my favorite shows of all time. I am glad to see Melissa McCarthy on this show, and I hope she adds some much needed positive energy. Also, apparently the pilot was re-shot, so I have slightly higher hopes than I did at first.

Hank premieres Wednesday, September 30th at 8 PM on ABC.

Gossip Girl: Season Premiere Pictures!! (CAUTION: Spoilers)

August 26th, 2009

The fine folks over at the CW sent over some photos from the season premiere of Gossip Girl. The title of the episode is “Reversals of Fortune,” and I, for one, am super excited to watch! There is one photo that is a big spoiler, so maybe don’t scroll down if you want to stay away from spoilers.

Gossip Girl premieres on Monday, September 14th. And I hear that Chuck might be kissing someone who isn’t Blair, and who might not be a girl…let the drama begin!

Make It Or Break It Season Finale

August 25th, 2009

The Nationals were finally upon us, as was the chance for the gymnasts of The Rock to live out their dreams. I was looking forward to more drama, and more gymnastics and last night’s season finale did not fall short in any way. The girls get to Boston, and have to deal with the media frenzy as well as try to focus on their gymnastics. Each girl has to face different challenges. Emily is an underdog, and has to fight just to get onto the National team. Lauren is dealing with family issues (her mom never shows up), and trying to overcome the fact that everyone knows she slept with Carter. Kaylie has to decide what she wants out of life, and how to fit in her dad and Carter and her own dreams. Payson has a lingering back injury, and the pressure of beating the reigning champion Kelly Parker. Oh Kelly Parker, why must you be such a total, how shall we say it…jerk (I’m being nice here).

The first day of competition is rough for the Rock girls, as each one sort of succumbs to the pressure. Before Day 2, each gymnast is forced to deal with what is holding them back. My favorite storyline here is Kaylie’s. Everyone was telling her she’s not a champion, she doesn’t have the heart of a champion but she proved them wrong. She gave Carter back her necklace and told him that she has to do something for herself for once, and it’s over. She gave back her necklace that her dad had given her (with his world series ring diamonds in it) and told him that this dream is about her, and not anyone else. She then proceeded to kick some Nationals ass. Lauren realized that she has a lot of people who care for her, and that Summer stuck around even after leaving her dad. Once she comes to this realization, she is able to show some joy behind her gymnastics and comes in 4th place overall. As for Emily, Damon shows up with her brother, and she finally has the support system she needs to succeed. Also, Sasha gives her the freedom to do well by allowing her to use her old floor music to compete (he had changed it on her just a week before). Payson is the tragic story of the season finale. Right before her bar routine, she is about to give herself a cortisone shot when she spots Kelly Parker doing the same. She wants to be honorable and true to her word, so she throws the cortisone shot in the trash. Unfortunately, she suffers a terrible fall off bars and has to be taken away on a stretcher. We later find out that this is a career-ending injury for Payson. It was so hard to watch, because Payson has worked at this for her entire life and now has to give it up. I think she will heal–something will give–because Payson is one of the main characters and she has to be in the gym. Another thought that crossed my mind was that she could coach, but I doubt that will be the case. In Payson’s absence, Kaylie steps it up and wins the gold in the all around. Emily ends up making the National Team in the last spot. The last scene is all the girls around Payson’s hospital bed, holding her hand. Now if you haven’t cried yet (you have no heart), this scene will really get you…it was very touching.

I was really happy to see all 4 girls with very distinct storylines, even if Payson’s was really sad. I thought they wrapped up this first season very well. This has been one of my absolute favorite summer shows, and I can’t wait to see the next 10 episodes. I’m just sad we have to wait until January.

Project Runway: Long Awaited Season 6 Premiere

August 21st, 2009

I have been eagerly awaiting the return of Project Runway for a while. Everyone knows about the contract issues, and the big move from Bravo to Lifetime, so I won’t go into detail about that. But I have always loved this show–Tim, Heidi, Michael Kors, and even Nina Garcia. The premiere did not disappoint. There was drama, a former crystal meth addict, crazy spelled names, a mental breakdown, and of course, Tim Gunn telling someone to “Make it work.” Some of the contestants were fantastic, but in the words of a former Runway contestant, some were a hot mess.

Who’s hot: I enjoyed Nick (self titled feather prince). I enjoyed Caroline (from South Carolina) and her portfolio, and Mitchell and his clothes. At first, I really liked Johnny (the former drug addict), but in the end, while he pulled through, it seemed like he wasn’t able to handle the pressure of this show.

Who’s not: I was not so sure about Ari (or pronounced Airy), and her lack of sketches. I really don’t know what to think of Malvin, mostly because his name is Malvin, but also because he seemed to have weird ideas about what makes a good design.

The first challenge was to design a red carpet dress that shows off the designers’ unique style. The guest judge for this challenge was Lindsay Lohan. I’m not sure why, but I was really glad to see her. I had to wonder if her girlfriend’s connections got her the job. Anyway, I have to say, I liked a lot of the dresses, while some were large disasters. Mitchell had a problem with his model’s measurements and basically had to sew a new dress (if you can call it that) onto the model. Ari’s wasn’t even a dress–I think there were shorts in her outfit. Qristyl (yes, that’s how she spells her name) had a crazy two-toned disaster. I wasn’t sure if I liked the “winners” but I did agree with the judges decision to send Ari home. Mitchell showed a lot of potential, and good taste…even if he wasn’t able to make a dress.

I look forward to a season of crazy fashion, fighting over sewing machines, and of course, designers gathering around. I like that Lifetime didn’t attempt to change the format, and kept it basically identical to the original. I’m not sure how I feel about the new Los Angeles location, but they still had Mood fabrics (which I hear might have been created for the show). I don’t have any favorites yet, as I think it will take a little while for me to learn everyone’s names. But I am very excited that Runway is back!

ADVANCE REVIEW: Top Chef Season 6 Premiere

August 18th, 2009

I love basically anything within the “Top” franchise: Top Chef, Top Design, Top Haircut (aka Shear Genius). Top Chef is my favorite though. And the Season 6 premiere does not disappoint. It is set in sizzling hot (yeah, I went there) Las Vegas (Sin City). All the regulars are back (Tom and Padma, of course) as well as Gail Simmons (love her!) and Toby Young (not super thrilled).

Here is a rundown of the 17 new “chef-testants:”

  • Ash Fulk, 29: Sous Chef at Trestle on Tenth
  • Ashley Merriman, 32: Chef at Branzino in Seattle, Washington
  • Bryan Voltaggio, 33: Chef/Partner, VOLT Restaurant
  • Eli Kirshtein, 25: Executive Chef, Eno Restaurant and Wine Bar
  • Eve Aronoff, 40: Chef-Owner, Eve
  • Hector Santiago, 41: Chef-Owner, Pura Vida ~ Latino Tapas Restaurant & Bar
  • Jennifer Carroll, 33: Chef de Cuisine 10 Arts by Eric Ripert
  • Jennifer Zavala, 31: Executive Chef, El Camino Real
  • Jesse Sandlin, 30: Executive Chef, Abacrombie Fine Foods
  • Kevin Gillespie, 26: Executive Chef & Partner, Woodfire Grill
  • Laurine Wickett, 38: Chef / Owner Left Coast Catering
  • Mattin Noblia, 29: Owner, Iluna Basque
  • Michael Isabella, 34: Executive Chef, Zaytinya
  • Michael Voltaggio, 30: Chef de Cuisine at The Dining Room, Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa
  • Preeti Mistry, 33: Executive Chef, Google, Bon Appetit Management Company
  • Robin Leventhal, 43: Chef, Artist and Teacher
  • Ron Duprat, 40: Executive Chef

Each chef has their own very interesting reason for being on the show, and they focus on that in the premiere episode. Also, the season is packed with famous guest judges. Everyone from Wolfgang Puck (on the premiere) to Todd English, Natalie Portman, Daniel Boulud, Penn & Teller, Hubert Keller, Laurent Tourondel, Tim Love, Michelle Bernstein, Tyler Florence, Charlie Palmer, Paul Bartolotta, Nigella Lawson and Jerome Bocuse. Crazyness! I just wish Ted Allen could still be a judge.

So let’s start with the Quick Fire challenge, which is one of my favorites from seasons past. It’s called the Mise En Place Relay where the contestants are divided into teams of 4 people, and given various different tasks (cleaning up lobsters was one). Whichever team finishes the fastest wins. However, a little Las Vegas twist involves choosing chips to determine the team, and one contestant pulls a gold chip (which turns out to be a very lucky chip). This is a new aspect of this season called The High Stakes Quickfire. And in another part of the twist, each contestant who is a part of the winning team, has a cook-off to win a chip worth 15 thousand dollars. I liked this new addition–I thought it was a good way to incorporate the city. However, I hope that these challenges only pop up every once and a while. Because while the end prize is ultimately money, the show needs to focus on the food.

The Elimination Challenge (influenced by Vegas of course) was to cook a dish based on a vice that each contestant possesses. The contestants still cook in teams, however each individual is competing against the others on their team. Let me say there were some interesting and amusing vices. Some were basic (alcohol, excess, etc.) but some were heartfelt and some even funny. I don’t want to spoil their dishes (ha!) so you will have to tune in to find out.

The premiere is full of competition, drama, and absolutely delicious looking food. Also, there are brothers competing against each other! Each year, the quality of contestants continues to increase. This year is no exception. The chefs are fantastic (many are award winners)–and there are some great personalities to boot! Don’t miss a minute of this action-packed 6th season! And if you do, you should really just pack your knives and go.

Top Chef premieres tomorrow (August 19th) at 9 pm on Bravo.

FALL TV PREVIEW – Vampire Diaries

August 17th, 2009

Since I love most things Twilight and True Blood–I had high hopes for this series based on a YA book series written by L.J. Smith. The show (and books) revolves around Elena Gilbert (played by Nina Dobrev of Degrassi fame), a model student, and popular girl whose parents died. She has to face the world of living with her aunt and her druggie brother (played by Steven McQueen from Everwood) as the school year begins. And then Stefan (mysterious vampire played by Paul Wesley) comes into her life. Stefan is a peaceful vampire who doesn’t feed on humans. But his brother Damon comes (played by the strikingly beautiful Ian Somerhelder) is quite the opposite, and ruins the life his brother has been working so hard for. We learn why Stefan lusts after Elena, and the two leads keep diaries (hence the title) guiding us through their thoughts.

I really enjoyed this pilot. I realize it is maybe oriented towards a younger demographic (but maybe not?) but I liked seeing a Degrassi alum, and of course a Lost alum. I think it has a lot of potential. The acting was good, the vampire parts were good, and I loved that while it might be very Twilight and True Blood-esque, it still maintains a unique quality. And it helps that these are some sexy vampires.

Vampire Diaries premieres Thursday, September 10th at 8pm on the CW.

Househusbands of Hollywood

August 14th, 2009

When I received the screener for the new reality show, Househusbands of Hollywood, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The show centers around a group of husbands, with very busy/successful wives, who end up taking on the responsibility of the kids and the household. The most recognizable househusband is Darryl M. Bell, who was on A Different World, and is married Tempestt Bledsoe, who played Vanessa on The Cosby Show. The other househusbands are Billy Ashley (a former professional baseball player for the LA Dodgers) who is married to a celebrity makeup artist, Danny Barclay (an aspiring actor) married to a high powered Hollywood attorney, Charlie Mattera (an actor/screenwriter) married to a psychologist, and Grant Reynolds (a former Marine Corps sniper) married to Jillian Reynolds, a TV personality who appears on Good Day LA.

The show takes them through their daily life as househusbands. At the end of the first episode, they all get together (which seems a bit like the network made them do it) and hang out in the “man-cave” built by Danny (really a garage with some lawn chairs and beer). If you like any of the Real Housewives shows, you will really enjoy this show. It was not exactly my cup of tea, but I was entertained. It is interesting to see the struggles of househusbands (and their wives) in everyday life and I think it’s a clever concept for a reality show

Househusbands of Hollywood premieres tomorrow (August 15th) at 9 pm on FOX Reality Channel.

INTERVIEW: Talking The Closer with Corey Reynolds (Sgt. Gabriel)

August 13th, 2009

I am always talking up The Closer. I think it is one of the most brilliant shows on television. Unlike many other detective and crime shows on television, The Closer stays incredibly grounded. The story lines are fresh, captivating, full of twists…and even funny at times. I recently got a chance to chat with Corey Reynolds, who plays Sergeant Gabriel, about his character, his favorite episodes, and what we can expect for the finale to this fantastic season.

I love the Closer.
Oh wonderful, I do as well. So we have something in common.

What do you like the most about playing Sergeant Gabriel?
I think the thing I find the most appealing about playing Sergeant Gabriel is – officially the character wasn’t written with a minority actor in mind. I think that was something that they decided at the last minute, and I think that one thing that that did for the character is the writing for him and the creation of the character wasn’t confined or defined by his ethnicity. And I really love the idea of playing the good guy and being a young, minority male on television playing a positive role model. And that’s something that I really find the most appealing about it.

You started your career on Broadway in musical theater. What made you change your path and get into film and tv acting?
I got a note from the stage manager one night after a performance of Hairspray, saying that someone wanted to meet me and I came backstage and it was Steven Spielberg.

Oh wow.
Yeah, it was pretty cool. And he sat me down and he told me that he enjoyed my performance and he thought that I had “it” and when I was done with the musical, he would find a spot for me in one of his features. So I finished the show July 13th, and the morning of July 14th, a casting director out here in LA called and told me that he (Spielberg) had a small part for me in one of his films—The Terminal starring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones. And I packed up everything I knew and came out to LA and started all over again.

Wow, that’s impressive.
That’s how it happened.

A big storyline at the end of last season was your relationship with Detective Daniels (Gina Ravera). Is there a big absence without her? Do you think we can see her back in the future?
So far as expecting her back, I am not really sure about that. I don’t really have that much input on the creative aspect of things. But to be honest with you, I felt like it freed up a little bit of the storytelling. I thought that the storyline between she and I wasn’t as clear to viewers. Maybe it wasn’t as explored as it maybe could have been. And for myself as an actor, it really – actually, it made me kind of feel free a little bit when our relationship dissolved. Because some of my choices that I made were based upon the storyline that she and I were together. So now I can make different choices and different performance choices. But she’s very much missed and I think that you do something long enough and somewhere along the way something inside you makes you decide that it’s time to do something else.

One thing I think The Closer is so great at doing is keeping the story lines new and creative. How do you think the show stays fresh while dealing with such serious issues?
Well I think one thing that’s really cool about having the opportunity to be on a show this long is that people evolve. It’s very rare that you’ll find someone who says they’re the exact same person that they were five years ago. So the characters on the show get to evolve. Although some people would consider it kind of business dangerous to have a procedural show be based so much on the characters versus the procedure. So that’s a bit of a risk when it comes to the networks and such because people get attached to the cast and it’s a lot harder to make changes if changes are needed to be made. But I think that’s given us the edge—the fact that the viewers have invested so much in the characters. They’ve gotten to know us so well. I think that’s one of the really unique, special parts of this production is being able to evolve as people. Because in the theater world, I never got to do that. With a Broadway show, you learn the show, and the respect that you pay to the show is performing the same thing every night. Because people who bought those tickets deserve to see that show. But the cool thing about television is that characters change. I can’t imagine what the character Seaweed from Hairspray would be like 5 year later. That would be an interesting character study.

As you were saying, people get attached to this cast—it’s a great cast. And you keep it funny too. That must be hard doing that as well as keeping it serious.
Well, you know the interesting aspect of that is a lot of what’s on the show–[they] really put a lot of time and effort into research. And one of the things that one of the consultants that’s on the show (a Hollywood Homicide Detective) tells us is they have to find humor in things sometimes that other people might not find funny. They live in a very dark world, and one of the things they use to balance themselves, and to keep themselves from succumbing to all the darkness that surrounds them, is finding humor—I mean in everyday moments. I think that’s the really cool aspect of some of the humor that happens on the show. A lot of times—often it’s scripted, but just as often, it’s an ad lib or something that someone does that starts a snowball effect and everyone else feeds off of it. That’s the really beautiful part about acting.

Is it correct that you had a background in security and law enforcement before acting and musical theater?
I did! My very first job that I ever had, I worked at a theme park. I was singing and dancing in the show and then a couple years after working there, the show closed and I needed work, and I ended up working at the park as a park security officer. And I won Officer of the Year (laughs) my first year working there which was kind of cool. And then I worked private security at casinos and at a rehab hospital in Reno, and my stepfather’s a police officer, my father in law is a police officer, my brother in law is a police officer, my wife’s a lawyer. We got a lot of law in the family.

(laughs) Have some of those experiences influenced how you play Sgt. Gabriel?
Oh absolutely. One of my things that I really enjoy is when I meet actually police officers and they say to me “You guys do it like we do it.” You know, there are some shows that I’ll leave unnamed that really blur the line between fantasy and reality. And you know, people who work in this field really know the difference. And they applaud us for what we do. We actually got awarded by the City of Los Angeles for—I think it was for our accurate and honorable portrayal of Los Angeles City Police Officers.

Yeah, it was with Chief Bratton and everybody. I was trying to figure out a way I could put that plaque in my car (laughs) but it just won’t fit in there anywhere.

So if yo
u ever get pulled over, you can say “look I have a plaque!”

If I ever get pulled over, I can be like “dude, I’m down with the Chief!” Doesn’t that count for anything?

(laughs) Yeah you should maybe shrink that plaque somehow and get it in your car.
Yeah, maybe I can find some way to get it on the dashboard.

Speaking of LA, you film a ton on location. What is that like?
I got to tell you, that’s one of the really neat aspects of the show as well because it gives you a chance to see all of the different parts of Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. I mean we’ve filmed everywhere from San Pedro to Palmdale to Akton to Ontario to Santa Clarita to Valencia to East LA, North LA, West Hollywood. I mean it’s really cool because LA’s a big city. And moving here from New York, you know New York is pretty cut and dry. Manhattan is Manhattan—you get your subway map and you can survive there just fine being on the train. But out here it’s a whole different thing so it’s really cool to be able to see different aspects of the city and see all the different communities—it’s really cool. It’s almost like the little communities are like boroughs (in New York).

Do you have any stories of anyone ever stumbling upon a filming a fake murder case or something like that?

A lot of times when we do the night shoots, because there’s all sorts of cop cars, and lights and sirens—a lot of times we’ll get the LAPD helicopter that comes over us and a couple times they have shone down their spotlight to see what the heck is going on and I think what happens is they probably contact dispatch, give them the address, and then they’ll find out there’s production being done there and they circle for a minute and then they fly away. But it’s always the game of “No, it’s okay! There’s no real murder here!” (laughs)

Don’t worry about it!
No one really died! It’s all—no trust me this body is going to get up in just a few minutes! He’s just got to take his makeup off and everybody’s fine!

Are there any story lines that you would like to see for your character?
You know one thing I think would be interesting—I’ve noticed in the seasons we’ve been on the show—we’ve never revisited a case from Gabriel’s past. I think that that would be interesting to find out what type of cop he was when he was in Robbery Homicide before he came over to Major Crimes. I think we’ve gone into the back stories of a lot of the other officers as far as some of their previous cases, it would be interesting to me to re-visit one of Gabriel’s old cases and see like for instance, the difference between how he investigated it then and how he would investigate it now.

Do you have a favorite episode of the Closer that you’ve filmed?
I would have to say my favorite episode of all time…I don’t know—there’s two of them. We had a really good one this season for me—Episode #3 this season called Red Tape, where my character shoots a suspect and it creates a – I guess I can say this because you’ll just edit it out—but creates a sh**storm (laughs) within the cast. That one was really exciting but I have to go back to Season 3, Episode 4 called Ruby. That one was pretty intense. It dealt with the abduction, rape and murder of an eight year old girl. And my character really took the case personally and actually ended up beating the suspect into confession. And although he got the confession, and they found the body, it threw a monkey wrench in the investigation because it was obtained illegally so you can’t use the information you got from him. It was a pretty intense read. I remember the guy—Keith was his name—he came and was the guest star in the show. And we were at the table read, and I told him at the table read “don’t expect you and I to be too friendly this week.” And of course by the end of the week, it’s impossible to do so, because he’s like one of the coolest people I’ve ever met, and he’s playing just a horrible character. But, that was pretty intense, pretty emotional—it actually turns out he lives right down the street from me, we’ve had dinner several times, he’s a really cool guy. But that week, I couldn’t really have too much to do with him. I could see him as that character and not too warm and friendly and fuzzy.

There’s definitely some intense moments on the show.
We have some intense moments. I guess you could file them under intense for sure.

Without giving away too much obviously, what can viewers expect to see in the rest of the season or is there a big season finale coming up?
Without giving away too much obviously, let me just tell you that the season finale, episode 12…Episode 12 is our season finale, but then we have 3 episodes that will air in the off-season. Episode 12 is directed by Kyra Sedgwick’s husband Kevin Bacon, and it is by far, the biggest stunt episode we’ve done in 5 years. As a matter of fact, probably if you were to add up all of the stunts that we’ve done in 5 years, there’s about as many of them in Episode 12. This is a big, big episode. We were shooting on the weekends which (laughs) is a huge Hollywood no-no but we had to do it, and I think it’s going to pay off big time. Kevin’s a superb director. What’s really cool about him is you can see the mechanics working in his mind as an actor, and then see those ideas get transferred to notes that you can convey through your performance. And as someone who grew up a huge fan of Kevin’s, and Kyra’s for that matter, it just blows my mind sometimes when I’m looking around set, thinking to myself I cannot believe I am sitting here, with these two people, working with them. I mean, Episode 12 is going to rock your world.

(laughs) I hope so!
It’s going to rock your world, I’m just going to put it out there, it’s a world rocker.

Awesome. What is it like working with your ensemble—with Kyra and with JK Simmons and with everyone else?
Well a really cool aspect of it for me is I think something that is kind of unique to me, and not so much with the rest of the cast, is this is my first television show. As a matter of fact, t his is the first pilot I booked. And so I didn’t go to college for this, I’ve never actually taken a singing, acting or dancing lesson in my life. So working with them is kind of like a master class. It’s almost like I’m going to college now and they’re my professors. So you know I can learn, not just stuff from them via their performance but you know, there’s a gracefulness that takes place with this craft. And if you’re lucky, you have someone to show you examples of that. And I’ve been very lucky that –what you learn from people is how to handle yourself when the days get long and how to handle yourself when stuff doesn’t work, how to handle yourself when you can’t remember your lines or something about the story not clicking. The biggest lesson that I’ve taken is just keep watching people like Kyra and GW and Tony and JK and watching guys like that deal with those situations and how they handle them. The acting part is kind of on yourself and the director, but how you carry yourself is something you can learn a lot by watching others. And Kyra’s probably – she’s probably the most graceful spirit I’ve ever worked beside. She’s giving, she’s loving, she honest, and she’s the type of star that when you walk onto the set and you’re ready to do a scene with her, she’s ju
st as eager to see what you bring to the scene, as you are to see what she brings to the scene. And being someone whose guest starred on a couple of other shows out here in Hollywood, I can tell you it’s not always like that. It is not always like that. I think the thing that really works for us if I were to try to sum it up into a sentence is when you walk on the set of The Closer, you walk onto an ego-free zone. We’re all committed to the storytelling and we’re all subservient to the storyline so that’s where we keep our focus. I think it’s one of the little known aspects of why we’ve been so successful. It’s because we like each other and treat each other with respect, and we give all final say to storytelling.

And I think that really shows. You can tell how close the cast is in real life seeing in on the screen.
I think we all share the mentality of—we’re not there to film a television show, we’re not there to live some sort of fantasy. We’re there to create moments and try to make them feel real and genuine, and the cameras are just there to capture it. I think that’s our philosophy.

FALL TV PREVIEW – Three Rivers

August 11th, 2009

Three Rivers is a medical drama, starring Julia Ormond, Alex O’Loughlin and Katherine Moennig. It shows how life, death, and second chances all intertwine. I tend to steer away from medical dramas because I don’t really enjoy seeing organs and blood and…well you get the picture. But Three Rivers was different. It is set in the organ donation division, and there were a few shots of a heart, but I can accept having to close my eyes for a few seconds. The show was really great. I was so pleased to see Katherine Moennig, as I loved her in The L Word (although seeing Shane in scrubs is a bit odd). I think the fact that the show is set in a specific division sets it aside from other (possibly boring) medical dramas. It is sort of a touchy subject, but it has great potential, and the cast is refreshing and genuine. I am also excited that Alfre Woodard will be joining the cast come the fall!

Three Rivers premieres on Sunday, October 4th at 9 pm on CBS. I will definitely be watching.