Monday, September 26, 2005

GLASS HALF FULL

It’s Sunday evening, and I’m looking forward to watching HBO’s lineup tonight, including the season premiere of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and a new show called “Extras.” I’m a huge fan of Larry David, and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is one of my favorite shows. It’s so funny. “Extras” is a BBC import, starring the lead actor from the British version of “The Office,” another great show. So I’ll pop some popcorn and get cozy for that hour- I can’t wait!

It’s been a pretty low-key weekend for me. Yesterday I participated in an event called “Halliestock” at a park in Queens. It’s an annual event that raises money for an AIDS orphanage in Africa. A few other soap actors and I went to show our support because daytime is starting a big campaign to raise awareness about AIDS in Africa. At the event, we each read some poetry by Hallie Geier, a young girl whose life was cut short by a tragic car accident. It was a nice afternoon, and the event was a success. (Also got to spend some quality time with Crystal Hunt, with whom I shared a car to get to Queens; we hadn’t really hung out in a while, so it was nice to catch up a bit.)

Today there was another event, this one in Times Square. This one was set up by Broadway Cares: Equity Fights AIDS (one of the biggest charities sponsored by the theatre community). It was a Broadway flea market that included autograph sessions with actors from stage and television. A handful of actors were there from "Guiding Light," and lots of fans showed up to get posters signed and to take pictures. It was a lot of fun. We got to meet more fans of the show, and we also got to see other stars (I was sitting two seats away from Bebe Neuwirth!) It was really cool.

Back to work tomorrow. I’m working every day this week! Things are pretty busy for me right now, which I love. I’m very lucky to have a great storyline that gives me the opportunity to work a lot. There have been so many changes at "Guiding Light" recently, most notably the loss of several beloved cast members. It’s a really weird thing to go through, especially after moving into a new studio and everything. I know these losses are upsetting to a lot of fans (as it is to us, of course), but you never really know why certain decisions are made. I think we just need to trust that “the powers that be” are doing what they think is best for the show. There are a lot of factors for them to consider, and running a big show on a tight budget can’t be easy, so I feel like it’s a bit unfair for us to judge their decisions. Of course it’s sad to lose actors and to see so many changes occur in such a short time. Let’s just wait and see what good it will all bring. (Am I a “glass is half full” kinda girl or what?!)

Personally, I’m particularly sad to be losing Laura Wright, who will be joining the cast of General Hospital next month. I can’t imagine not having her around. However, I’m very excited for Laura. I hope that this new experience turns out to be great for her; she deserves it.

We’re only a few weeks away from the Guiding Light fan weekend in October. I hope a lot of you can make it. It’s always so much fun! If you can’t be there, don’t worry- I’ll be sure to fill you in on all the happenings of the weekend.

Have a great week everybody!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

IT'S GOOD TO GO TO KING'S (DOMINION)

I got back to New York yesterday from a fabulous weekend in Richmond, VA. Saturday was “Guiding Light Superstar Saturday” at King’s Dominion, a promotional/fan appreciation event sponsored by CBS. I got in to Richmond on Friday afternoon. The hotel we all stayed at, the Virginia Crossings Resort, was beautiful and quaint. It had a very nice, old Southern feeling to it. The first thing I did when I got there was have lunch with some other "Guiding Light actors" and three of our publicists. We had a nice lunch, and the lively conversation got me excited about the coming weekend. My coworkers just so happen to also be my friends, so I knew this weekend would be a great chance for all of us to hang out and have a good time.

Later in the afternoon, two of Guiding Light’s publicists, Alan and Johanna, joined Scott Bailey, Kim Zimmer, Robert Newman, and me for a visit the Richmond International Raceway to watch Bobby Hamilton, Jr. qualify for Saturday night’s big Nascar race. Bobby drives the Tide car, and since both Tide and "Guiding Light" are owned by P&G, Tide invited us to meet Bobby and hang out in the pit while racers zoomed around the track. I’ve never seen a Nascar race before, so I really didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be a really exciting event. Outside of the racetrack, people camp out and tailgate and create a generally enthusiastic atmosphere that’s truly contagious. The excitement only grew as we were escorted onto the track itself to check out the Tide car and meet all the members of Bobby Hamilton, Jr.’s team. They were all really sweet, and they taught us a lot about Nascar racing. It was so cool. (We even got free Tide stain sticks! Woo hoo!)

After our Nascar visit, we headed over to King’s Dominion for a welcome reception. All the actors from GL were there (eleven of us in all, I think). Our executive producer, Ellen Wheeler, was there with her family. All the GL and CBS publicists, some press, and a few fans were also there. The park was closed to the public, so we had the place all to ourselves. There was an awesome buffet dinner outside of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, and a few of the rides were opened for us to ride. It was the coolest thing. Like little kids, we all ran from ride to ride, enjoying the fact that there were no lines and that we could ride the rides over and over again. David Andrew Macdonald (Edmund on the show) was the funniest and most surprising of all, running full speed from coaster to coaster, fighting people for a seat in the front row! It was a great kick-off evening. Everyone had a lot of fun.

Saturday was the “big event.” "Guiding Light Superstar Saturday at King’s Dominion." We (all the actors and other GL folks) were bused to the park on Saturday morning. When we got there, we were told that there were already huge lines of people who were eager to meet us. We were taken to the Caprice Lounge, our home base for the day. Each of the actors was assigned to a park “ambassador," who was going to take care of us throughout the day, making sure we were always where we needed to be and that we were taken care of. These ambassadors were all extremely nice to us, making sure that we stayed happy all day (at one point, someone mentioned that a cheeseburger would taste great, and a few of the ambassadors went for takeout! They were so sweet!)

We actors were separated into three groups. Throughout the day we moved from one event to the next with our groups. My group included Kim Zimmer, Robert Newman, Tom Pelphrey, and me. The first thing we did was an autograph session. I was absolutely floored by the number of fans that had turned out to see us. It’s truly a pleasure to meet fans of the show, to thank them for watching and to hear their feedback. So we autographed headshots and took pictures with fans and stuff. I did so much smiling that my cheeks began to hurt! Lol.

Our group got a short break after that. We went back to the lounge and had a little something to eat. At first we felt bad that we were taking a break while there were so many fans still waiting in line for autographs, but as the long day wore on, we realized how necessary the little breaks really were. After the break, we went to a theatre for a Q&A session, hosted by a local news anchorwoman, Cheryl Miller, from WTVR-TV. The Q&A was fun. It was a nice chance to hear from the fans and to joke around and spill “dirt” about the show. The second autograph session followed, which was even wilder than the first. People said they’d waited up to five hours in line, which really shows the dedication of many of these fans. It’s amazing. Then one final Q&A before the last break.

All of the actors got together for this break before the final event, which was a karaoke contest. Before we went out for the karaoke, we were told that there were 3,000 fans gathered to enjoy it. A security guard made us all be quiet and listen to specific instruction for getting to the stage. He told us that they’d take us out in groups of two or three, surrounded by guards and ambassadors, so that we’d make it safely to the stage. I couldn’t believe it. I felt like some kind of star or something! (I’m still not used to this stuff. I don’t think one could ever get used to it!)

The crowd was so great! It felt really good to look out from the stage, and to know that everyone was there cheering for "Guiding Light." The karaoke was a lot of fun. Each of the actors sang a song with two pre-selected fans. I, and two fans, sang “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles. I think we somehow ended up winning the thing- lol. Despite the fact that I can’t sing to save my life, karaoke was a blast. It was the perfect way to cap off the day. After seven hours of this event, we all kind of expected to be exhausted or cranky or something. But because the day was so well planned, we all agreed that it was total fun. The event was wildly successful, which is good news for "Guiding Light," and which made us (and the fans, I hope) very happy.

After the event, we went back to our hotel and got ready to head out for the evening. Richard Mensing, vice-president of CBS Daytime, (and a Richmond native), took us all to dinner in downtown Richmond. What a good time we had! We were, all together, a group of eighteen. The dinner was delicious, and the company was, of course, superb. With the many changes that have recently taken place at "Guiding Light" (the move to a new studio and the loss of many actors, crew members, and executives), many of us feel like things are going to be completely different from here on out. Ricky-Paull Goldin gave a very nice toast, saying, “Here’s to a new beginning for our show,” etc. etc... It made us all feel really good, like we should look ahead with excitement. We’d had a fun day, and were excited to start our first week in a new studio. It was perfect.

I flew home Sunday afternoon with Scott, Bradley, and Ricky-Paull. Ricky and I read home décor magazines and slept until we were all back in NYC. The end.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

LABOR DAY

It’s Labor Day, and I’m doing what I think people are supposed to do on this holiday: relaxing. My computer, which was sort of broken for a while, is usable again, so I’ve been doing a lot of web surfing. I’m taking time, too, to watch New York 1, our local news channel, to catch up on all the latest news. Unfortunately, most of it is terribly sad news about the many victims of Hurricane Katrina. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like for those people whose lives have been affected by the tragedy. It’s an important time to pray, and to give to charities like the Red Cross.

What seems crazy to me is that, while New Orleans sits under water, destroyed by the storm, New York is experiencing the most beautiful weather you could ever hope for. This weekend has seen sunny skies, low humidity, and temperatures in the low 80s. Luckily, I’ve been able to take advantage of this weather, getting out and about in the city. On Saturday, my dad and his girlfriend came to visit me and Jason. We walked through a street fair that spanned ten blocks near my apartment. From there, we walked to Central Park and had lunch at The Boathouse, a beautiful restaurant that sits next to a big lake where people paddle around in row boats and take casual rides on gondolas. We ate outside, overlooking the lake, which was absolutely perfect.

On Saturday night, after my dad had left, we had some friends from Philadelphia drive up to spend the night. The four of us went to a late dinner at Boxers in the West Village. Our friends felt like walking around the city for a while, and since it was such a nice night, we ended up walking the 50+ blocks back to our apartment! On Sunday, after breakfast at a diner near Central Park, we headed back to the lake, where we rented one of the rowboats we’d seen the day before. There were a lot of rowboats out, and everyone was having a great time. The lake is huge, and it’s surrounded by pretty trees (including my favorite, weeping willows), cliffs, and lawns filled with picnickers and sunbathers. It was truly a perfect day in Central Park.

Tomorrow is my nine-year anniversary with Jason. (Wow!) I start school tomorrow night, so we’re going to celebrate tonight by having a picnic dinner in Fort Tryon Park. This particular park is a gem located above Manhattan along the Hudson River. There are gorgeous views of the George Washington Bridge and undeveloped land across the river in New Jersey. The park itself, which has paths leading to The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Cloisters” (an old stone building/museum), is filled with gardens and stone bridges and all kinds of pretty things.

I’ve got this week off from work. We all do. Guiding Light is moving into a new studio this week. Last Friday was our last day in the studio that’s been home to Guiding Light for seventeen years. It was a tearful day. Not only are we leaving a building that’s cozy and comfortable and like a home to us, but we’re leaving behind many of our crew members. Last Wednesday night, Kim Zimmer (Reva) threw a party for the whole cast and crew, which was so much fun. The move to the new studio has caused a lot of stress for a lot of people lately (many people are taking pay cuts along with the move, etc.), but on Wednesday night, all that stress was forgotten, and everyone was able to hang out as one big, fun-loving family. I will never forget one moment, when I looked around and we were all dancing together on the bar’s roof terrace in the rain, and I could really see what a tight-knit group we have all become. Actors and crew members and producers and everyone were all dancing and singing and having a good time together. It was a really great thing to do during our last week, before all the new changes brought on by the move set in.

My prayers remain with the hurricane victims. It is really important for us to band together as a country to support them in any way we can. May God bless the victims and bring relief to them and their families.