Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Fairy Spell" cover reveal

On 8/7/17, the incomparable Betsy Bird kindly unveiled the cover of my next book, Fairy Spell, edited by Jennifer Greene at Clarion, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, and due 4/24/18.

In 1917, by a stream in England, 16-year-old Elsie took a picture for the first time. It showed her 9-year-old cousin Frances…and a group of fairies they insisted were real.

Their parents suspected a trick but did not know how children could have pulled it off. When Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of famous detective Sherlock Holmes, took interest, the world followed.

But what became one of the most reproduced photographs in history hid a secret that Frances and Elsie revealed only in old age. This true story is both magical and mysterious…whether or not you believe in fairies.

I did the majority of the research for this enchanting story in 2008 but then set it aside to focus on books about other flying figures (Superman and Batman—he has a plane). That ended up taking up more of my time than I anticipated…so nine years later (!), here we are. (I was hoping that the book would come out this summer, 100 years after the first of an eventual five fairy photos the girls took. But this is not an anniversary acknowledged on par with the sinking of the Titanic or the U.S. invasion of the Beatles.)

This story continues my pattern of writing about duos of history whose names were not household but whose accomplishments were (Siegel and Shuster, Finger and Kane). This time, however, my protagonists are different in at least two notable ways (nationality and nature of accomplishment aside): 

  • they are female
  • they are kids

If only it were as easy to reveal fairies as it is to reveal covers of books about fairies…

By the way, I did not call Betsy "incomparable" as quid pro quo for her using the humbling words "superteam" and "inestimable." I often describe Betsy with words starting with "i" (immeasurable, invaluable, irrepressible, instoppable…).

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"Family Ties": oral history of the 1980s sitcom – part 10 – mementos, memories

Introduction to the Family Ties oral history (including the list of interviewees and links to each part).

Do you have any Family Ties mementos such as a script or candid set photos?

Cindy Fisher (s1): I'm sure I do somewhere in the garage. A camera on the set would have been unprofessional/prohibited and just wasn't done.
Chris Hebert (s1, 2): Sorry, no scripts or photos that can be thought of, but I was able to keep my sweater vest from the show. I remember wearing that to school and feeling very grown-up and professional. I thought whoever thought of a sweater vest was a genius; it gives the impression of a suit without being a full suit! Yes, that's how a 9-year-old thinks...
Kaleena Kiff (s2): I have black and white 8x10s of me on set that a photographer gifted to me.
Kate Vernon (s2): Gosh. I don't think I do. I have saved some scripts since but I don't think I knew enough [to do so] back then.
Eileen Seeley (s2): I do still have a copy of the call sheet and script from our episode. I had a script that was signed by the cast, but after numerous moves, it is MIA.

Debbie Gilbert (now Webb) (s2): I had nothing for a very long time because I had read somewhere it was bad feng shui to hold on to mementos from the past, and then this year Eileen gave me a copy of the script as a gift. I gave it to my daughter so she would connect that someone wrote those lines. When she asks me a serious question, I often tease her and think real hard, finally saying "I dunno" [MTN: as her Family Ties character did].
Susan Isaacs (s2): I wish I did. I was so young and green, I was afraid to do anything untoward. So they're only in my mind.
Kathleen Wilhoite (s2): No, actually, I don't. My basement flooded a few years ago and I lost a ton of memorabilia to mold and mildew.
Lenora May (s2): I'm sure I have some photos, but where they are is the question.
Alan Blumenfeld (s2, 3, 4, 5, 6): God no. I used to have a champagne flute from one of the Christmases. It had a Family Ties logo on it.
Timothy Busfield (s3, 5): I don't have any from anything. Maybe a script or two from thirtysomething. I'm not an in-the-past guy.
Norman Parker (s3, 5, 6): Somewhere in a box marked "memorabilia" in our basement are several of my scripts from the show with all my notes in the margins, which I'm sure would bring back a flood of memories if ever I find the time to unearth it. I also have (hope I still have) a set of champagne flutes given to us by NBC at the final party celebrating the end of the seven-year run of the show. If anyone else has them, let me know and we will get together and knock off a bottle of champagne while reminiscing fondly on Ties and the Family.
Adam Carl (s3): Somewhere I have a copy of the script and an 8x10 cast photo that everyone signed for me. Where those items are, however, is anybody's guess. I'm pretty sure I used to have the photo framed.
Gracie Harrison (s4): I gave my script, with autographs from the cast, to my sister as a gift. "Paper Chase" was the last show of the season that year. There were buttons given out for entry to the after-party. I'm not one to keep souvenirs from my acting days, but I did save that button. It's somewhere in storage, but I can't find it.

MTN: On Gracie's script, I could make out the signatures from Meredith, Michael Gross, and Marc. The rest:

Upper left hand corner:
"Dear Virginia, You've got a great sister so you must (underlined three times) be a lovely person. Scott Valentine"

Underneath "Network Television"
"Virginia, Love Justine Bateman"

Above Michael Gross:
"Virginia, All the best, Love, Michael J. Fox"

Lower right hand corner:
"To Virginia, Love your friend, Tina Yothers"

Underneath Marc Price:
"To Virginia, Best Wishes, Tracy Pollan"
Jonna Lee Pangburn (s5): I have a lovely Ubu pin from a
Family Ties
Christmas party!
Brian McNamara (s5): I got to keep my Cleveland Indians ball cap!
Stuart Pankin (s5): I don't even have that calendar. I looked for it for a long time, but when we moved, it disappeared into the void where old TV comedies go to rest. And I don't think I ever had set photos.
Dana Andersen Schreiner (s5): I have a script buried somewhere, but no photos.
Nicole Nourmand (s5): I do. I'm not sure where the pictures are but I know I had a really great photo of Michael Gross hugging me.
Ellen Latzen (s6): I had a
Family Ties
T-shirt for years, but I wore it so much I think it pretty much disintegrated right off of my body.
Victor DiMattia (s6): Both, I think. All that stuff is with my dad and he [recently] moved. I've got him looking. Fingers crossed.

What did you think when you first heard from me?

Cindy Fisher (s1): Good for you! :) Don't follow your dreams, lead them. You found me! :)
John Putch (s1, 2, 5): "How on earth did Marc take this long to get in touch?"
Terry Wills (s1, 2, 5, 6, 7): A guy writing a book.
Kaleena Kiff (s2): I laughed and then tried to remember that far back!
Kate Vernon (s2): I thought it was really cool. It launched Michael and he's such a special human being. It's such a special show. It should have special attention.
Eileen Seeley (s2): It was a bit convoluted as I heard from/about you through the production team I worked with on Nunsense. They each checked you out online before sending your email on to me. I thought that was very sweet.
Debbie Gilbert (now Webb) (s2): Shocked. I tried to seem nonplussed, but how cool! And why? Honestly, I wonder who cares; sure, it was a special time in my life, but not for anybody else! Everyone on that show went on to do some nice work, and wasn't Family Ties just one of many sitcoms from those days, and who cares about the scene with the little blonde at the end of the table?
Susan Isaacs (s2): I checked your website to make sure you were legit. I get some odd requests from time to time, so I wanted to make sure you weren't writing me from prison.
Kathleen Wilhoite (s2): "Wow, that was a long time ago. I bet he has a hard time drumming up information." I barely remember. But, sincerely, good luck to you. I hope this works out.
Lenora May (s2): I'm always tickled to hear from folks who are doing [nostalgia] projects on productions I've been in. This is my third this year. The others were Jaws 2 and Little House on the Prairie.

Alan Blumenfeld (s2, 3, 4, 5, 6): I am always surprised that anyone cares about what I think. (laughs) My last big show was Heroes and that was seven years ago. I thought "Are you kidding? Why does he want to talk to me?" My wife said "Because he grew up watching you on TV."

I'm 65 and moved to L.A. when I was 30 so those were my formative years learning how TV is made. I am proud to have worked with people who shaped the medium. I think it was a time when TV was really remarkable and I don't think it was remarkable again until just recently.
Matthew Barry (s3): "Fan."
Nancy Everhard (now Amandes) (s3): I was happy to try and help with my memories about the show. It was a good week for me when we shot it.
Norman Parker (s3, 5, 6): I thought what a good idea! How can I refuse this guy.
Adam Carl (s3): I thought, "Oh my God, I hope I can remember enough to make this worth it to Marc." I also thought, "Marc needs to get out more."
Suzanne Snyder (s4): I am always surprised when I hear from people that are interested in my past acting experiences. I don't talk or think about my past often.
Gracie Harrison (s4): Since your name wasn't familiar, I googled you and researched all the links you provided!
Robin Morse (s5): To be honest, I thought "uh oh, who is this guy"…but then I decided to treat it as an opportunity to give back, to express my gratitude for such a rewarding experience.
Jonna Lee Pangburn (s5): It has been a very long time since I really thought about acting. I am asked about it fairly regularly and remember it with a fond haze. Honestly, it was a job. A sitcom was five days out of 10 years of work. In general, I remember this particular show as being really well-organized with an incredibly welcoming and gracious cast and crew. For the most part, everyone was thrilled to have a fun week with new faces but continued on with their incredibly professional and friendly routine.
Brian McNamara (s5): I loved that you're doing this story.
Sonia Curtis (s5, 6): I was honored. Thank you!
Stuart Pankin (s5): "Dear God, how did he get my number? Is he a mad stalker? Do I have to move?" But a quick call to the FBI assured me you were legitimate. And I also thought it would be fun to revisit
Family Ties
Dana Andersen Schreiner (s5): I just ignored it. It took my friend forwarding your email to her that made me start to take it seriously. I'm also really bad at answering email and Facebook messages so it was easy to ignore. Sorry.
Nicole Nourmand (s5): I was surprised because my role was pretty small. I was on only two episodes.
Jason Naylor (s6, 7): I wasn't sure that time would permit me to participate, but I found the notion amusing.
Ellen Latzen (s6): I have to admit, I wasn't sure whether or not you were legit. It's nothing personal, I get a lot of people reaching out to me for various reasons relating to my career. But from what you've told me, as well as the research I've done, you seem accomplished and qualified to take on this subject matter. I look forward to seeing the finished product!
Victor DiMattia (s6): Hahaha, the first thing I did was text my brother to make sure you weren't some stalker...
Darrell Thomas Utley (s6): I wondered why someone would be interested to get in touch with me as I was not a famous actor. I haven't been in the industry for so long. It was a curious situation, haha.
Susan Kohler (s6): "What a great idea." This was an important show in the history of television.
Danielle von Zerneck (s6): I don't understand the question really. These inquiries come in occasionally. When I was an actress I was lucky enough to have been in a few things that were or have become iconic. But I did quit acting almost two decades ago so it does feel very removed. I don't think about my acting experiences very much.
Hilary Shepard (s7): "What the hell is wrong with this guy?" Also, I was in only one episode so wasn't sure what I could contribute.
Nick Rutherford (s7): "I'm not giving this guy my bank account info."
Byron Thames (s7): I thought I would be glad to help you. Even though it's probably not much help at all!

How do you look back on your Family Ties experience?

Cindy Fisher (s1): Brief and fun. I still think the name was dumb. [But] hard to argue with success.
John Putch (s1, 2, 5): Super fun and historical. I appeared on a lot of historical TV in the '70s and '80s. My first appearance was on All in the Family. I also had a solo song on the ill-fated Cop Rock by Steven Bochco.
Chris Hebert (s1, 2): Very fond memories. It was a different sitcom experience as both of these shows were not filmed with an audience because of the set changes and special effects. But I remember that everybody really was striving to do quality work in a fledgling show that has now become a TV classic. No grudges, no bad blood, no egos, no nothing like that.
Terry Wills (s1, 2, 5, 6, 7): It was fun and I was happy to be one of the Gary Goldberg Repertory Players.
Edward Edwards (s2): It was absolutely one of the best experiences in my career. I was given such freedom on set during rehearsals and a lot of my improvised lines and actions ended up in the script. Gary was the leader in making everyone feel they were important team players and the result was a true collaboration of wonderful artists, writers, and director Sam Weisman.
Kaleena Kiff (s2): It was sweet and easy.
Eileen Seeley (s2): Thankful! I could not have asked for a more wonderful introduction to Hollywood.
Debbie Gilbert (now Webb) (s2): It was a time of Hollywood that was delicious. I am so grateful to be able to say "I tried, and I did work."
Susan Isaacs (s2): Bittersweet. So long ago. "If I knew then what I know now…" I would have followed Paul's advice and ditched acting for writing from the get-go. It's such a hard business. Actors are pawns. If you're going to be an actor, you have to create material for yourself or you're going to be cog in a wheel. As was I. I got smart too late in the game.
Kathleen Wilhoite (s2): I look back fondly on my Family Ties experience. It was one week out of my life over thirty years ago, so I don't actually look back on it much, maybe haven't ever, until you sent me these questions.
Lenora May (s2): It was fun, of course, and as I said, my last teen role, so a little sad, too.
Matthew Barry (s3): It boosted the hell out of my confidence and I started booking again.
Lily Mariye (s3): I was really excited and grateful to be on such a hit show. I learned a lot about comedy and I had a lot of fun. But we had no idea it would remain such an icon of television while we were doing it. I'm happy to have been part of television history.
Norman Parker (s3, 5, 6): It's the nature of the beast that many projects over the life of the actor are "jobs" we are grateful for, but just not that meaningful. If we are lucky, a few, as was Family Ties for me, come to us as a special gift we know we will always cherish and be proud to have been a part of.
Adam Carl (s3): It's 100% a positive experience in my mind. I had a great couple of weeks working with wonderful actors on what was then one of my favorite shows. It was a thrill.
Robin Morse (s5): With tremendous gratitude.
Jonna Lee Pangburn (s5): Fun with serious bouts of silliness! Very warm. The cast and crew were definitely a "family" and managed to make everyone (at least me!) feel like a part of their extended family with strong ties. I have nothing but warm memories and gracious thought about the team that made this wonderful production.
Brian McNamara (s5): A true highlight in a long and wonderful career. I've always been proud of entertaining audiences and being a part of television history. I'm particularly proud to have done this moving episode of this extraordinary show.
Sonia Curtis (s5, 6): Very fondly. I am very proud to have been on the show. I just wish the producers made the spinoff series about Skippy and I that they decided to do after my first episode! They ended up contracting me to do another 7 out of 13 episodes, but shifted focus to bring Michael J. Fox a new girlfriend. That was Courteney Cox. She was super sweet and gave me a Christmas gift after working only a couple episodes.
Stuart Pankin (s5): Really positively. Only downside: I think the residuals have stopped.
Dana Andersen Schreiner (s5): It was great. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. It was a very nice set to be on. There was no tension on set and everyone seemed to love working with each other. It was the last show of that season so people seemed to be extra sentimental. I've been on some sets where the tension between the writers and the actors has been thick and they were usually unhappy places to work (except for the fact that you're making money).
Nicole Nourmand (s5): I look back on my experience very fondly. It was super fun and a great growth experience.
Ellen Latzen (s6): It was one of the highlights of my career. It taught me valuable lessons about how to act in front of a live audience, it gave me my first taste of working on a studio lot, it was my introduction to comedy performance, and it was on a show that I adored. The week I spent on the Family Ties set was one that I have treasured for the past 29 years, and will continue to for the rest of my life.
Victor DiMattia (s6): I look back on that whole period of my life with a lot of fondness. It was a truly great experience and I had a ton of fun.
Darrell Thomas Utley (s6): It was an awesome opportunity for me to get [into] Hollywood. My child acting career spanned for 10 years after Family Ties, a kick starter to that engine. I got overwhelmed with the so-called fame at times and it was a learning experience for me.
Susan Kohler (s6): I am grateful that I was a small part of historic television. I will always remember the week I worked the show.
Danielle von Zerneck (s6): I was grateful for the job and looking back grateful to have been a teeny tiny part of a groundbreaking show at a really interesting time in its history.
Hilary Shepard (s7): It was one of the first sitcoms I ever did and I loved the whole thing—like shooting a mini-play in front of a live audience with a bunch of actors who loved each other and really knew what they were doing.
Christina Pickles (s7): A marvelous experience. A lovely script. Sensitive but funny—not always an easy combination. Mathew Perry told me that I was lucky to be on two of the best shows ever on TV—Friends and St. Elsewhere. Well, I consider myself lucky to also have been on Family Ties because that show was of the same temperament—real, human, kind, touching, valuing all the good and decent things about family and people…and funny, too.
Nick Rutherford (s7): I remember being slightly bummed that my part was pretaped because there was nothing like performing in front of the live studio audience. Ultimately it was fun. I always enjoyed being on set, and [when you're] a little kid, everyone is incredibly nice to you. The show was a well-oiled machine by the time I made an appearance so it went smoothly and easy.

Anything you'd like to add?

Cindy Fisher (s1): Never really any good at math.
Lisa Lucas (s1): At that same time, I did Facts of Life and I get some of the memories confused. I remember Blair [Lisa Whelchel's character on Facts of Life] constantly eating bagels and other things at the craft services table. But that doesn't apply to Family Ties.
Earl Boen (s1, 3): It was a very good show, especially when compared to what passes for situation comedy now.

Very friendly and professional cast and writers. When they called me back for that second time I didn't have to read for it so I guess I did something right the first time. They were very accommodating when I needed to go on an audition during lunch, for example. Some shows wouldn't do that—"we're paying you for the week."

Paramount had great munchies in the morning! Lox and bagels and cream cheese and green peppers—jalapeƱos. They cut them very thin. I became addicted to them!
Terry Wills (s1, 2, 5, 6, 7): I still get residuals now and then. I guess it was a big hit.
Debbie Gilbert (now Webb) (s2): I have shared my acting chapter. I have not given up on a next chapter, and so I pitch my husband shows when I have him cornered—usually when he is on the toilet seat. My daughter says I am too old to do anything, anything at all, except be her mom.
Tom Byrd (s2): I heard long ago that episode apparently garnered kudos from some organization that promotes teenage virginity. I figured as a former horny teenager I was glad to help out.
Susan Isaacs (s2): I really connected with one of the producers on the show, Ken Hecht. Maybe I mentioned I was still in film school, so he didn't treat me like some airhead actress who'd come to town on a beauty pageant float. After the episode was over, I met with him in his office at least once. He'd just let me come in and talk about what I was up to. He encouraged me to keep going and to not forget my writing. He was a very kind and caring man. He didn't have to take that time with me, but he did. I met a lot of really good people on that episode.
Alan Blumenfeld (s2, 3, 4, 5, 6): I'm just pleased that people remember the show. Also: go to live theater.
Timothy Busfield (s3, 5): RIP Gary Goldberg. Every time I saw him, I would miss him. And I miss the work environment with Michael. Shows like that are a gem that you don't find anymore.
Matthew Barry (s3): Much appreciate you doing this.
Lily Mariye (s3): My friend Anthony Edwards was in the studio audience on tape day. We met doing children's theater a few years before. He came backstage afterwards and we hung out for a bit before I had to go back to work. Little did we know that we would work together again on ER for many years.
Robert Costanzo (s3, 4, 5, 6): I told Gary that we had a real-life version of Family Ties in our house. We're pretty liberal and I tend to be more leftist but my son Daniel is right-wing. He's Alex P. Keaton all over again!
Adam Carl (s3): I appreciate you reaching out and giving me a chance to share my memories. And I'm glad there are guys like you out there helping to highlight and preserve these bits of TV history.
Peter Scolari (s4): This was an incredibly balanced set because Gary Goldberg and the actors all pulled in the same direction.

In the back of one of the Family Ties sets, the home set, they had a huge sign-in wall for all the guest actors. When I signed in, I alluded to the plot of the show itself because my character, Paul, wanted to know how Elyse felt about him: "Forget Paul—I want to know how Meredith feels about me." Even if you're successful in this business, you don't have perfect experiences and shouldn't expect to, but my time on Family Ties is among the very few weeks in my career where I was consumed with gratitude.
Gracie Harrison (s4): Thank you for finding me. I'm grateful for the opportunity to express the joy that it was to be a member, if only for a week, of the Family Ties family. This has brought back many memories that I haven't thought about in years.
Robin Morse (s5): Thank you for asking me to be a part of this.
Margaret Nagle (s5): Christina Applegate and Rain Phoenix were guest stars [on my episode] and so sweet.
Sonia Curtis (s5, 6): The line producer, Carol Himes, told me she was submitting my name for Emmy Award consideration as a guest star, so that was huge. :) I didn't get the formal nomination but was honored anyways.
Stuart Pankin (s5): Yes. Don't ever email me again!
Amy Lynne (s5): Sitcoms would always do the Friday night live shows. The room was always packed. I remember the set like it was yesterday. There was a little daycare set up for Meredith's twins. I got a red sweatshirt that had Family Ties on it at the commissary shop. I had it for years and never wanted to part with it. But I don't have it anymore.

Jason Naylor (s6, 7): It is remarkable to note the degree of scholarship that has come to be able to applied to such recessed niches of recent popular culture, to say nothing of the fact that any physical published work of cultural history that should come of it stands a very good chance of vastly outliving any and all copies of the actual show itself, given the far greater stability of print matter over digital media. It should perhaps come as no surprise that we, amongst the first generations to be widely exposed to television during our most formative years, would look back upon such shows as played their not inconsiderable part in teaching us the ways of the world and the people in it, both reflecting and reforming our ideas of who we were and could be, with such fond nostalgia.
Darrell Thomas Utley (s6): It is nice and refreshing when Hollywood casts an actual deaf person for [a deaf] role. It brings authenticity, and not only that, the community feels validated. It is a constant struggle and frustration for us to see [deaf] roles filled by hearing people who sign awkwardly and are not native to the community.
Susan Kohler (s6): Thank you for reaching out to me and helping me reminisce…I'm in my 60s now.
Debra Engle (s7): Matthew Diamond was the director. I [saw] him at Bed, Bath, and Beyond just a few weeks after (my mother was there from Illinois that day) and he was so fun to speak with—he was saying that he liked that element I did.

Also, hilariously, [today, the day I answered these questions], I got a residuals payment statement from SAG/AFTRA for
Family Ties
! Only $13.52 [how long ago that was]. I get lots of money from Golden Girls—I was on that three times.
Jaclyn Bernstein (s7): Growing up, I worked with a lot of wonderful actors of great shows, from the legendary Michael Landon to the casts of St. Elsewhere and Golden Girls, and Family Ties was the best of the best.


Monday, August 14, 2017

"Family Ties": oral history of the 1980s sitcom – part 9 – your family, show legacy

Introduction to the Family Ties oral history (including the list of interviewees and links to each part).

Where do you live?

Many, of course, are in Los Angeles: Kate Vernon, Susan Isaacs, Kathleen Wilhoite, Robert Costanzo, Norman Parker, Adam Carl, Sonia Curtis, Alyson Croft, Jason Naylor, Ellen Latzen, Victor DiMattia, Debra Engle, Nick Rutherford, Jaclyn Bernstein.

Other responses (some of which are specific parts of L.A.):

Cindy Fisher (s1): Not in L.A., even though I was born and raised there. We live in a coastal community not too far from L.A. where we can walk on the beach and live under the radar.
John Putch (s1, 2, 5): I live in California with my wife of 28 years, Julie.
Chris Hebert (s1, 2): Southern California. 
Terry Wills (s1, 2, 5, 6, 7): Lancaster, CA.
Edward Edwards (s2): Santa Monica.
Eileen Seeley (s2): I live in Aspen, CO with my husband Chip and our two boys, Luke, 21, and Jack, 15.
Debbie Gilbert (now Webb) (s2): Until a few years ago, I lived in Bel Air, CA. I now live in Aspen, CO with my five dogs and three horses. I have run away from Hollywood so that my children can get it real.
Lenora May (s2): Woodland Hills, CA.
Timothy Busfield (s3, 5): Michigan. I'm from here. I grew up in East Lansing. I teach at Michigan State. I'm going fly around so might as well live in a place where I won't get sunstroke and skin cancer. I hope to die in New York.
Matthew Barry (s3): In a house.
Suzanne Snyder (s4): Northern California.
Gracie Harrison (s4): Greater Kansas City, MO area, with my husband of 20 years.
Robin Morse (s5): New York City.
Jonna Lee Pangburn (s5): Altadena, CA, in the San Gabriel foothills. I regularly jog around the Rose Bowl and walk my dog along the Rose Parade route.
Brian McNamara (s5): Mar Vista, CA.
Stuart Pankin (s5): Near Santa Monica.
Dana Andersen Schreiner (s5): Reston, VA.
Amy Lynne (s5): I work in Aspen and live near there.
Nicole Nourmand (s5): Beverly Hills.
Darrell Thomas Utley (s6): We just relocated back to Riverside [CA], so our daughters—who are also deaf—can attend the same school where I grew up, CSDR. They are so happy with their peers. We just bought a 1909 cottage bungalow and are looking forward to making it our sweet home.
Susan Kohler (s6): Santa Monica.
Hilary Shepard (s7): I live in Newport Beach, CA, on a beautiful bird reserve with an ocean water canal in my back yard. I love to stand-up paddle from my backyard and surf.
Christina Pickles (s7): Brentwood, CA.
Byron Thames (s7): Bel Air, CA.

If you have children, how many and ages [as of 2016]?

John Putch (s1, 2, 5): No kids, but we have pets and treat them as our children.
Chris Hebert (s1, 2): We have two boys, 12 and 9 years old.
Earl Boen (s1, 3): No, I don't have any but [my wife] Cathy has one daughter.
Tanya Fenmore (s2): No kids, no dude.
Debbie Gilbert (now Webb) (s2): Son Lucas Webb, age 15. Daughter Siena Webb, age 13.
Kathleen Wilhoite (s2): Jimmy 20, Ruby 16, and Adugna 11.
Lenora May (s2): My son is 24 and my daughter is 17.
Robert Costanzo (s3, 4, 5, 6): Two sons, Daniel, 32, and Christopher, 29. Daniel is in the restaurant business and Christopher is an actor. My wife is Annie.
Nancy Everhard (now Amandes) (s3): My son Ben is 17. My stepdaughters are 30 and 34. I also have a granddaughter who is almost 2!
Norman Parker (s3, 5, 6): Three sons. Two grown men, and a 14-year-old. What can I say?
Suzanne Snyder (s4): I have three birth children (Alex 23, George 18, Grace 14) and four stepchildren (Sarah 28, Geoff 26, Lindsay and Sky 21).
Brian McNamara (s5): Twenty-five-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son! My two gems!
Sonia Curtis (s5, 6): I don't. I may adopt one day.
Stuart Pankin (s5): One that I know of (cheap joke), and a lot smarter and wiser than he is old…
Amy Lynne (s5): I have two girls, 13 and 7. They love to ski race. They have the performing bug as well but we don't live in a place where I could get them into it, and I don't know if I would steer them that way anyway. Being on stage is a good thing—learning to be in front of people, working as a team.
Nicole Nourmand (s5): I have two kids, 13 and 10.
Alyson Croft (s5): One 4-year-old.
Victor DiMattia (s6): No children. My wife and I do have two dogs; their ages are 8 and 2 (we think).
Jaclyn Bernstein (s7): I have two teenagers. Both are artists.

If your kids have seen your Family Ties appearance, what do they think?

Cindy Fisher (s1): They have not seen it. They saw The Waltons (I did a few episodes) and I think one of my Murder She Wrotes and were not too impressed. When Liar's Moon, the film I did with Matt Dillon, was on sale at Rite Aid for $3.99, I bought them each a copy for their Christmas stocking. The cashier said "Are you sure you want two of the same thing?" I said yes, it is the greatest movie of all time. I have threatened both children to answer Liar's Moon when asked what their favorite movie is, but I haven't been too effective. I also doubt the Rite Aid women rushed out to get a copy.
Debbie Gilbert (now Webb) (s2): My son could not care less. He prefers to follow the career of [fellow guest star in Debbie's Family Ties episode] Eileen Seeley, which is far more impressive, and now that he and Eileen's son (Jack Seamans) are schoolmates, he has IMBd'd Eileen and discusses her roles with her. When my daughter was little, she would watch me on something and then run lines. The thing is you can't get away from it. It runs in the family, so everything is "That was a good reading" even if we are in everyday conversations.
Norman Parker (s3, 5, 6): My grown-up boys were at the perfect age for their dad to be on a hugely successful show like
Family Ties. They were definitely pleased about it, and loved coming to watch it being taped before a live audience on Friday nights. My (let's call him) 14-year-old has seen only the episode where I am furious with my daughter for staying out so late and he thinks I was so mean on the show that he is not interested in seeing any more. I take that as a compliment.
Amy Lynne (s5): My older one has. We've moved seven times in the last five years so lots are in boxes.

Are you still in touch with anyone from the cast?

Cindy Fisher (s1): Both Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter appeared recently on my husband's show and I sent hellos through him to them, but he wasn't sure they registered who I was. It was the same nod you get when someone can't hear you or doesn't understand what you are saying.
John Putch (s1, 2, 5): Only with Michael Gross since we just worked together on a film.
Eileen Seeley (s2): Several years ago my son Jack came home from school and said he met someone I [had known] in Hollywood. Seems there was a new boy from L.A. and Jack met his mom, Debbie Webb (formerly Gilbert). She said she was from L.A. and Jack said I had lived in L.A. and somehow it came around that we had done
Family Ties together 30 years prior.
Debbie Gilbert (now Webb) (s2): I found Eileen in Aspen! When I married Hollywood and no longer pursued an acting career, I followed Eileen's career and was so impressed (a better word was envious). She was so talented and I loved all of her work. She was a real actor, and on the set of
Family Ties, she was a tad older than I, and had this lovely way about her, and I still remember when we three girls linked our hands and Eileen pulled Kate and I onto the set with her and made sure we landed right on our marks. Thirty years later, [in Aspen], a little boy with huge blue eyes says hello to my son (the new Jewish kid in town) and shares that he is from L.A., too, and his mom was an actress…Eileen Seeley. My mouth dropped!

These last few years, Eileen has taken me by the hand, same as she did thirty years ago, and guided me through some tough times—bershert [MTN: Yiddish for "soulmate"], I believe. Sometimes when I am dumbfounded by something, I email Eileen and sign it "Buffy" (the name of my character on
Family Ties).
Nancy Everhard (now Amandes) (s3): No, but I see Justine around the neighborhood.

When was the last time you saw a member of the cast, and was it on purpose or by chance?

Cindy Fisher (s1): When I arrived on the set of Casualties of War, Michael Fox and Sean Penn were in a tent filming. I was wearing a nightie under my coat as Brian De Palma had to approve the nightie so wardrobe could make several copies since I would be raped by Sean Penn in the movie and it would get torn. I wasn't sure if either of them knew I was cast since I did not read with them, nor was I sure where their heads/egos were since both were big stars by then. Sean was married to Madonna [at the time] and Michael had been a household name for years. Perhaps both would not remember me or play the star trip like they didn't. I did not know what to expect. When Sean heard I was on set, he yelled my name and came looking for me. I got a huge hug, an invite out to dinner. Michael Fox gave me the same star treatment, raising a big stink. The crew was staring at me wondering who I was. I said to both of them, in my best Kimberly Blanton style, "Like, my career took off…what happened to you two?"
Chris Hebert (s1, 2): I stopped by their set when we were at the studio for something else about a year after. They were getting ready to shoot with an audience but we were able to go back and say hi to Michael J. Fox. He remembered me and was very nice. At that time they were breaking the top 10 in ratings so they were a huge deal.

I remember seeing Justine Bateman on the Paramount lot a few years later while I was waiting for an audition. She walked by with somebody and my mom and I said hi. She said hi but she didn't remember who I was. I honestly didn't expect her to remember me, but my mom was kind of offended. My mom sometimes thought that her own strong memory was the same as everybody else's. But I love my mom anyway. :)
Terry Wills (s1, 2, 5, 6, 7): I haven't seen any of them since.
Edward Edwards (s2): I see Meredith occasionally at the farmers' market and see Michael occasionally at parties. We all remember this episode very fondly. Gary once told me it was in his personal top three of all the episodes.
Tanya Fenmore (s2): I [ran] into Marc Price many years later—but still many years ago—maybe in 2000? He was up in Laurel Canyon at this eccentric house with wild animals and birds and I was looking to rent out the guest house. I said, "Skippy, yo, it's your little sister, Arlene!" and he sang, "Girl…you'll be a woman soon." He's so cute. I think he was working with the founder of The Improv or The Comedy Store at the time and housesitting for him up there.

I haven't seen any [other of the] cast since, although Gary David Goldberg's daughter went to my high school (Harvard-Westlake) and also to my college (Harvard University). She was a few years older [and] we didn't know each other, but I remember seeing him at one of those two Harvards many years [after
Family Ties].
Kate Vernon (s2): I haven't but I've auditioned for [fellow guest star] John Putch. He's a wonderful director.
Eileen Seeley (s2): I see my fellow guest star Debbie Gilbert on purpose as often as schedules permit. She recently housed me when my home was overrun with rugby players in Aspen for Ruggerfest.
Susan Isaacs (s2): I run into Lenora May at auditions. [That] is calculated chance in that we're the same age range and go up for similar roles. Though it's not often, I enjoy seeing her. I've tracked the progress of her life and her children. And we're always amazed that these many years later, we're still here and still at it.
Kathleen Wilhoite (s2): I had Justine on my podcast, Suck the Joy.
Lenora May (s2): I do run into Susan Isaacs and Kathleen Wilhoite at auditions. At one point, Kathleen's child and mine went to the same middle school. I did run into Justine Bateman at a dance class.
Alan Blumenfeld (s2, 3, 4, 5, 6): I saw Michael Gross. I just did a play with some of his college mates from Yale and he came to the show. Bobbie Costanzo and I have stayed friends. We'd go opposite—audition against each other—for many years. I love him, I think he's a spectacular actor.
Timothy Busfield (s3, 5): I think Michael Gross most recently. I haven't talked to Michael Fox in a long time. You start raising a family and there goes your social life. We live in the different parts of the country. I saw Meredith once years later and I think she didn't know who I was. (laughs)
Lily Mariye (s3): Michael Gross played Anthony Edwards's father on ER. I was going to mention that he owed me $5, not because I wanted the money but because I thought it might be funny. But Michael seemed consumed with making sure he was doing a good job on our show, so I didn't think he would take the comment in the spirit in which I meant it. So I reminded him that I was on
Family Ties (which I don't think he remembered), Anthony Edwards told him that he was in the studio audience that day, and I told him how happy I was to have him on our show. Which I was!
Norman Parker (s3, 5, 6): I was delighted to stumble upon Michael J. in the lobby of a little movie theater in Malibu several years ago. All the affection was still there which was so lovely.
Adam Carl (s3): Sad to say, I don't think I've seen any since 1985, when I worked on the show. Though I have seen Michael Gross pop up a couple of times in some mutual friends' Facebook threads. I've often been tempted to message him and tell him how much I enjoyed playing mini-him, but I also don't want to be a weirdo.
Peter Scolari (s4): I never crossed paths with them again with the possible exception of seeing Michael J. Fox in a restaurant and saying hi. He was always lovely recalling the brief amount of time we'd worked together.
Robin Morse (s5): I've bumped into Michael a few times over the years, but no one else from the show.
Sonia Curtis (s5, 6): I saw Justine Bateman by complete fluke a couple of years ago. Justine and her family ended up parking immediately next to my friend and me when we stopped at Salt Creek Lake on the way home from Mammoth. Justine was very nice, as were her hubby and kids. We talked about how we both went to UCLA and how tough it can still be to get steady work as an actress over 30. Not the same for men (her brother's career has never been better!). We also talked a bit about our directing careers, but she seem[ed] to be putting that on hold to get her degree at UCLA.

I [also] recently saw Marc Price. Marc was also sweet. Much taller than I remember. He is friends with a friend of mine so I met him again briefly with her at a coffee shop.
Stuart Pankin (s5): I saw Michael J. Fox years ago at a Comic Relief benefit. We talked fondly and remembered the moment in the episode when I picked him up. What a nice, talented man. (I do run into Mary Gross [Michael Gross's sister] once in a while at parties and local restaurants. Does that count?)
Dana Andersen Schreiner (s5): Michael Gross, about six months after I did
Family Ties.
Amy Lynne (s5): Back when I was in my twenties. I saw Justine at some interview or restaurant, one of the two. She recognized me before I recognized her.
Ellen Latzen (s6): Unfortunately, I have not seen any of the cast members since filming. The one exception is Lee Garlington, who played my mother. We stayed in touch for several years afterward, but I haven't seen Lee in over 20 years.
Victor DiMattia (s6): Quite on purpose. Brian Bonsall is my (step)brother. He was the best man in my wedding. I see him all the time. The funny thing is we weren't stepbrothers when I was on
Family Ties. I don't think we even met the day or two that I was on set.
Darrell Thomas Utley (s6): I have not seen any of them since I fell out of the Hollywood loop. I'd love to meet with some of them and even though it was only one episode it was pretty memorable for me. I'm not sure if they will recall my role on the show; they did a lot of episodes over the years.

Hilary Shepard (s7): I love to knit and Justine and I used to go to the same knitting store in L.A. where we'd hang around, gossip, and knit. She even started a knitwear clothing line from her designs!

When was the last time you watched Family Ties? How did you think it held up?

Cindy Fisher (s1): It was a great show. Issues are a bit old. Mostly I can't get over how long my hair was. :)
John Putch (s1, 2, 5): Aside from the old videotape look and the bad sound, I think the subject matter holds up pretty darn good. The writing still hits the issues.
Chris Hebert (s1, 2): I watched the show a couple years ago to show my kids the two shows I was in (around Christmas time). It obviously brings back fond memories as an actor but like many others, I was a fan, too. I think it has held up although its style is characteristic of many '80s shows where vulgarity and obscenity were limited to pay-cable shows. I know it tried to build a lot of its comedic elements on stereotypes (liberal vs. conservative, ditzy girl who is only into shopping, goofy neighbor who likes the pretty girl but needs to be content with being valued as a friend), but I think it's still enjoyable. 
Terry Wills (s1, 2, 5, 6, 7): I never saw it again after it was cancelled.
Kaleena Kiff (s2): It holds up well and is still thought-provoking in the vein of All in the Family, but kid-friendly and kid-relevant. And if you refer to Alex Keaton, everyone knows what kind of guy you're talking about.
Kate Vernon (s2): I have not shown my daughter so it's been at least 16 years.
Eileen Seeley (s2): Honestly, I have not seen it in ages. Occasionally, someone will send a clip from our episode and it continues to make me smile.
Debbie Gilbert (now Webb) (s2): It has been in this last year. My kids will show a friend or I will pop it [up] on the internet because sometimes I wonder if it really happened.
Susan Isaacs (s2): I catch it on reruns. While it feels dated in terms of a time and genre—three-camera sitcoms all but dried up—the humor is still great. Especially anything MJF does.
Alan Blumenfeld (s2, 3, 4, 5, 6): My son put my name into TiVo and it records [whatever show features that name]. I watch the "Lady Sings the Blues" episode when it comes on because it was the first one. I had hair. It's very nostalgic.
Lily Mariye (s3): I had insomnia one night and started flipping channels. I suddenly heard Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams singing the famous theme, "Without Us" and saw that it was my episode, so I stopped to watch. The episode was really sweet and funny. Our cast had a lot of guest actors who went on to become very successful: Billy Campbell, Tate Donovan, and of course, Timothy Busfield. I thought it held up very well.
Nancy Everhard (now Amandes) (s3): We found my episode on YouTube yesterday so my husband and son watched it with me. I think my son was shocked at how young I was. He also didn't know that Michael J. Fox was so short. It's funny how I remember all the lines from the show. I think it held up very well. Michael J. Fox was always so good.

Norman Parker (s3, 5, 6): I came upon a rerun of my first appearance as Robert Keaton ("Remembrances of Things Past") and was so impressed with the beautifully handled flashback episodes to our childhoods. I liked myself well enough, but I loved the young actor who played me in the flashbacks. The conflict between Steven and Rob was so beautifully written. It still holds up for me as a very touching piece of the Family Ties storybook.
Adam Carl (s3): I haven't seen the show in many years, but now I'd like to. In particular, I'd like to see if my long-held beliefs about Michael Gross's superior comedic timing hold up to scrutiny. But despite not having seen the show in God-knows-how-long, I can still sing the theme song by heart. Sha-la-la-la.
Gracie Harrison (s4): A few years ago a friend called to say my episode was on. That was the last time I watched it. It held up beautifully. It's a classic.
Sonia Curtis (s5, 6): So long ago. I still think the show is fabulous. The writing, acting, chemistry of the cast, etc., were all so good.
Dana Andersen Schreiner (s5): I can't remember. I never actually watched the episode I was in after its original airdate. I don't think my kids have ever seen it.
Nicole Nourmand (s5): Well! I think it is a timeless sitcom about how you raise a family with children with wildly different personalities.
Ellen Latzen (s6): Outside of watching my own episode, it's been a while since I've seen
Family Ties. But there's something about it that can be said of a lot of sitcoms from that time. The humor is solid, albeit a little cheesy at times. The scenarios can be hokey, but there are usually real lessons to be taken away. And the family unit is one that a lot of people find lovable and relatable. There may be different issues now, but the dynamics of the show are still pretty relevant.
Victor DiMattia (s6): It's been a while, but I'll catch an episode on rerun every so often. Obviously the styles and the look of the whole thing are dated, but the stories, the jokes, the messages are all still relevant.
Darrell Thomas Utley (s6): To be honest, I didn't watch it again after it aired on TV. Someone sent me a link of [a] scene I was in and it sure brought back memories. Someday maybe I'll get to watch it with my daughters. Even my wife hasn't seen it.
Susan Kohler (s6): I've seen reruns through the years. They still hold my interest. It makes me think of those "decades ago," as you put it. They were sweet times. The honesty of the subject matter in the episodes was well communicated in its simple three-camera format.
Hilary Shepard (s7): I haven't seen it in years, but great writing and acting never goes out of style.
Nick Rutherford (s7): I didn't watch the show when I was on it. (Too young.) The last time I watched was probably just my episode to try and jog some memories.

Part 10.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

"Family Ties": oral history of the 1980s sitcom – part 8 – your life today

Introduction to the Family Ties oral history (including the list of interviewees and links to each part).
What are you doing these days?

Cindy Fisher (s1): I quit acting just after I got a Brian De Palma film Casualties of War, playing one of two females in the movie. I was cast as Michael Fox's Midwest wife and in the film would be raped by Sean Penn's character. Sean was cast in an earlier MOW I did with Telly Savalas by Sean's dad Leo, who was the director of this movie. Sean was a day player and played my druggie boyfriend. Leo asked me to be kind to Sean as I think it was one of his first gigs. Sean was awesome and we became friends—more on that later.

But essentially I was in a hotel room in Thailand for a few weeks waiting to film my part, trying to stay off the beaches as I did not want to tan. I spent a lot to time on the phone talking about life's meaning with my husband Doug Davidson (still in the business, the longest current cast member on the number-one daytime drama The Young and the Restless) and felt I needed to make some changes. The agents were excited I finally got a big budget feature and felt the meaty role would launch a public career, but I was searching for something other than fame, and was tired of waiting around for my life to happen. 

During week two, hibernating in my hotel room, still not having shot anything, De Palma said they have all this war footage they are happy with and my part (which represents Michael Fox's morality—flashbacks of his own wife being raped instead of the Vietnamese girl) was going to be cut. The whole part, not just one scene. I knew then that the film would fail. The powers that be felt that one scene in the bar of Michael Fox glancing at his own family photo would accomplish the moral motivation for his character. I did [a] photo session with my dog and think my dog is still in the movie, even though my part was cut. Thank goodness I hadn't shot a frame of footage or, as in typical actor style, I would have thought they cut me out because I was terrible.

It was shortly after my return from Thailand that my husband and I decided we would start our family and since I did not want our housekeeper raising our kids I would quit acting to stay home to do it. We have been married 32 years and have two wonderful children. [My daughter is] a violinist in London and my son is working on his international business and trade major at a college in China.

I was nominated for an Emmy award for the first show shot on video many moons ago and didn't win, so when my husband won for best actor two years ago and shared that moment with me, it was as though I completed the circle. Only my ego misses "the business." My butt misses my director's chair with my name on it (which they hardly do anymore) and all the attention you get, again more ego, but the creative process can be found in so many things, so that is my focus now. And the best part of my life, that all my choices have made clear, is also the meaning of it. Love.
John Putch (s1, 2, 5): I'm a film and TV director. I've directed over 100 episodes of TV and about 18 feature-length films. 

Chris Hebert (s1, 2): I've been teaching high school the last sixteen years (and actually loving it). I've taught film studies/history, English, and AVID (a college prep program). I'm also happily married to an amazing woman; we have been married since 2001. I'm also involved in my church as a Bible study leader, worship member, and media minister.
Cristen Kauffman (s1): I live in Los Angeles, married to a wonderful man for 22 years, two daughters, one 27, the other 16. I have done many things since leaving acting when I was 27. Most recently I was a docent at the Getty Museum.
Lisa Lucas (s1): I'm trying not to wind up in a hospital with my back pain. When I was 12, doing a show with Jason Robards, we used a horse that was not used to cameras and didn't like men. One of the grips grabbed the horse when she ran into the camera. She bucked up and took off. I was thrown off and broke my ankle in 17 places—in the middle of nowhere in Canada. Over time, this has caused other problems. I went to Yale when I was 18 for freshman year but never finished. I went to Paris, went to Cordon Bleu, married a French architect, and stayed seven years. Then I came back and did a movie in L.A. with my friend Robert Downey Jr. called Heart and Souls (I played his mother), came back to New York and built and opened a restaurant on 46th Street called D'Orsay (opened 1999), named after a train station in Paris. Turned out my investors were shady, got a liquor license next to a church, which is unheard of. They sold it out from underneath me the next year. Terribly traumatic. Moved to Florida. Decided to go back for my degree, Florida Atlantic University. I was going to teach drama but wound up working for the school paper and became a good journalist. Right after school got offered a job as a stringer for New York Post in Florida. I didn't like them and quit. Went to work for The Daily News. Followed A-Rod around a lot. Covered John Travolta's extortion case, the "Miracle on the Hudson," the Trayvon case gavel to gavel (in the courtroom every day), and more. Did a lot of investigative journalism that won awards. But I now live in Fishkill, New York (1 hour, 10 minutes from the city) and they don't really have work up here. I found my way to Haiti on a private jet three days after the quake. I was basically a nurse and supply person at a trauma hospital—in a tent on UN grounds. I wound up caring for a lot of orphans, saw a lot of people die. I went to Japan after their quake. We drove around to abandoned towns in radiation zones to rescue pets. I'm now living with my boyfriend from when I was 15, a mile from the house I grew up in. I'm auditioning, too. I've done a couple of little industrial things. I'm also writing a book.
Earl Boen (s1, 3): I take everything a day at a time. I still take an occasional voiceover job. My first wife and I planned to retire at 65. I worked so much and didn't have time to spend any money. She had a murder mystery event business. We bought a condo in Honolulu in 2000 [to eventually move to] and by April of the next year she was dead. I moved there in 2003. I thought I had gotten through the grieving but when I got to Hawaii, I realized I wasn't better. In 2005, I realized I'm chasing a ghost. I had to let her go. I was married for 32 years. But then I had to decide if I could live by myself. I could, but then I met Cathy in 2005. She's a widow, too. When I was diagnosed with osteoporosis two years ago, I said I want to get married. So we agreed and married January 15, 2015. As you get older, your body starts to break down. She helps me so much.
Terry Wills (s1, 2, 5, 6, 7): Not much. I'm trying to get a musical I've been writing for decades produced and I still do the very occasional commercial.
Kerry Noonan (s1): In 1995 I realized that as a woman in my thirties, I was no longer going up for many parts—Hollywood has fewer and fewer parts for women as we get older, and what few parts there are go to women who made it in their twenties. I decided to give up acting and went to grad school at UCLA to get my M.A. and Ph.D. in folklore and mythology. For nine years I taught as an adjunct professor in L.A., at UCLA, CSUN, and Otis College until I got a full-time position at Champlain College in Burlington, VT, where I live now, and where I still teach. While I don't teach theater, I have directed plays at the college (I directed one fall 2016), and co-teach the film major senior capstone course.
Edward Edwards (s2): I am still acting but have strongly transitioned into directing for the stage. Theater was my first love and still is the most rewarding medium for my work.
Tanya Fenmore (s2): I wrote, directed, and produced an independent feature film called Graduation Week that starred the brilliant Alanna Ubach (current star of Bravo's Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce). We stayed friends [through] all these years and coincidentally, just a few weeks ago, she brought me on to direct her in a parody music video for a comedy album project she is doing with her husband, 16-time Latin Grammy-winning producer Thom Russo. It's dirty, raunchy—makes Sarah Silverman look like Disney. If you can imagine: we had cameos by actress Denise Richards, former [adult film] star Ron Jeremy, and a live donkey with rap bling all on the same green screen shoot day!

I went back to Harvard to get my MBA (not quite sure why?) and for a while thought I wanted to do the studio corporate thing in international because I learned Italian and Spanish. I love international business but not in that business. So in the meantime, I also wrote, produced, and performed an album and produced this zany music video in Kunming, China at the Kingdom of the Little People amusement park. That is my poodle with my teeth—thank you after effects! So [now you know] what Skippy's little sister looks like all grown up and twerking with Chinese dwarfs.

I sold a screenplay based on Little Lady Fauntleroy to the producers of the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy and with the script savings and miles got my "eat pray love" on and traveled alone to find a place to relocate from La La land where I unfortunately am now. I checked out all of Europe, South America, China, Thailand, South Africa, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and the Cooks, and fell in love with Portugal and its islands, despite the recent fires there. So I am now trying to figure out how to start a business there so I can live there—or perhaps write and direct a delightful comedy to film in Portugal!
Kaleena Kiff (s2): I'm an independent film producer making cool arthouse films in North America and Europe.
Kate Vernon (s2): I [recently] finished two independent films. One we shot in Ottawa, one in Mexico City, both coming out in 2018. I'm doing a motion capture video game I can't talk about yet. That will probably be out in 2019.
Eileen Seeley (s2): I continue to do theater when time permits and the right project presents itself. I recently had the opportunity to play Mother Superior in Nunsense. It was the first time I have performed in a musical. It was simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating.
Debbie Gilbert (now Webb) (s2): I have no idea what I am doing these days! I am 54 and looking for the re-invention convention. Do you know where they hold this? I went back to school, online, at Amherst, and [now that I] take medication for my ADD, received an A+ in my first upper-level journalism course. This back-to-school thing is what I am most proud of at this time. I believe you would call what I am doing these days "entrepreneurship." I love structuring sound business systems for nonprofits, and do so pro bono as often as I have time for. Turned out I wasn't such a dumb blonde.
Susan Isaacs (s2): I'm still acting, but I'm mostly writing now. I have a memoir out, Angry Conversations With God: A Snarky But Authentic Spiritual Memoir, and I'm working on a second. I also teach screenwriting and sketch comedy at a college in L.A., and I work as a script consultant on a lot of independent films no one has ever heard of.
Kathleen Wilhoite (s2): I'm going back to college to get my master's degree in theater arts. I've been cast in Cal Rep's A View from the Bridge, another Arthur Miller piece that I'm very excited about.
Lenora May (s2): I'm still acting. Just played my first grandma role in a film called 30 Nights and recurred in Heartbeat. Also a real mom and developing two films for production.
Alan Blumenfeld (s2, 3, 4, 5, 6): I still do film and TV. I just did a film version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I did an episode of the John Lithgow show Trial & Error. I do 2-4 plays a year in L.A.

I miss the style of show that Gary did. It's not really done anymore. It's not just that it was wholesome family fun but it also was an era of bringing the political into the personal. The comedy was always funny but there was always an undertone that men and women were treated as equals, that kids and parents respected each other. [One of the few inheritors of that is] Modern Family.
Timothy Busfield (s3, 5): I direct a lot of television and executive produce a lot of TV. [For example] I've [recently] done an episode of This Is Us and Nashville. I moved to Sacramento in '86 and created a children's theater there called the B Street Theatre [then called the Fantasy Theatre]. I couldn't have done it without Michael J. Fox. He helped fund it. His contributions made it possible. We will be forever in his debt. It's now in its 31st season and reaching 150,000 kids a year, and we've added an adult theater.
Matthew Barry (s3): I'm a top Hollywood casting director and acting coach. 

Lily Mariye (s3): I'm continuing to act. But a whole new additional career has opened up for me, for which I'm amazed and grateful: I'm directing! While I was on ER, the producers of the show gave me the opportunity to shadow my two mentors and friends, Jonathan Kaplan and Lesli Linka Glatter. "Shadowing" a director means that you are a fly-on-the-wall, watching and learning the process of directing from preparation to post-production. I have shadowed on ER, West Wing, Gilmore Girls, Homeland, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Night Shift, Nashville, Mercy Street, and Bunheads. I've directed many award-winning short films, I wrote and directed a feature called Model Minority, and have finally started directing television! My first episode was ABC's Nashville. I just directed Amazon's Just Add Magic, and will return to Nashville to direct another episode of Nashville for CMT.
Robert Costanzo (s3, 4, 5, 6): I'm co-artistic director of a theater in Chicago called the Emergent Theater Company. I'm sort of the quasi-celebrity co-founder. We don't have a permanent theater, we move around. We've done two Neil Simon plays. I either act or direct about once a year.

My father had a private sanitation business in New York. He played my father in With Friends Like These… He had some talent. Now I'm in this movie with a strange name, I have to look it up. Part of the shooting will be in India. I recommended my son Christopher to play my son in the film and he got the role! Now three generations of Costanzos have acted!

I do an occasional independent movie but most of them don't go to the theater. I do some voice work here and there. I've voiced Detective Harvey Bullock in [some of] the Batman animated series—must have done about 40 of those. I did the Disney Hercules TV show. I just did an animated Christmas special for Amazon based on the classic children's book The Snowy Day. I play a chestnut vendor.

I'm not working as much as I want.
Nancy Everhard (now Amandes) (s3): I'm pretty much retired from acting. I've spent the past 17 years being a mom to my son Ben. He [went] off to college in fall [2016] so we are hoping to do more traveling when my husband is not working.
Norman Parker (s3, 5, 6): Writing plays and helping my wife raise our teenage son.
Adam Carl (s3): More than anything, I'm producing, mostly micro-budget independent features. I've written and directed three films of my own—Performance Anxiety, Pieces of Eight, and Waiting for Ophelia—and I recently produced a movie called The Midnighters that is just about to begin its journey on the film festival circuit. A few years back I was also a producer on the reboot of the classic VH1 show Pop-Up Video. I spend a lot of time reading, and writing, and trying to figure out what the next project is going to be. I am also a live-in caregiver for my mom, who is 80 years young.
Suzanne Snyder (s4): I am a mother and a health coach—yoga and meditation instructor.
Gracie Harrison (s4): I'm the Director of Volunteer Services at Smiles Change Lives (SCL), a nonprofit that helps low income children gain access to orthodontic care. It's a wonderful organization that has changed the lives of over 8,000 kids in need since 1997. I love my job. Every day I play a part in helping a child improve his or her life. What could possibly be better than that?

Robin Morse (s5): First and foremost, I am a mother of two outstanding children. I began teaching in 1994, and in 2011 I launched the Robin Morse Studio, teaching classes in both acting and singing performance. I have taught on the faculty at NYU and Syracuse University's Tepper Semester, and have maintained a thriving private coaching business.
Jonna Lee Pangburn (s5): I am an artist, a mama, a community worker, an editor, a designer, an organizer, a woman of many trades… 

Margaret Nagle (s5): I wanted to be an actor on TV and instead, I'm a writer, showrunner, producer of TV. [Her work includes Red Band Society (Ex P, creator, writer), Side Order of Life (executive producer, creator, writer), Bonfire of the Vanities miniseries (executive producer, writer), Boardwalk Empire (supervising producer/writer), The Good Lie (screenwriter), Warm Springs (screenwriter).] I have been nominated [for] and my work has won Emmys as a writer/producer. I have run into Allison Jones at awards parties and she always says hi. Every job is a chance to learn but it's not always what you think you're there for which is why it's so important to pay attention and keep your eyes open no matter what you're doing. My jobs as an actor (My So-Called Life, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Milk Money) were teaching me how to write and produce.
Brian McNamara (s5): Hustling! Getting the next gig!
Sonia Curtis (s5, 6): I still act whenever I can. I also coach actors and sell real estate.
Stuart Pankin (s5): Web series, the occasional guest star, sizzle reels, internet pilots, and theater.
Dana Andersen Schreiner (s5): I haven't worked since we moved to northern Virginia (right outside of Washington DC) in 1996 when AOL recruited my husband along with some other entertainment folks. We were both more than ready to leave "the business" to have a more financially stable life and better schools for the kids. We also really loved the different seasons as well as it being easier to get to NYC and our occasional trips to Denmark where I still have lots of family. I basically gave up acting except for a little theater here and there. Ironically, our daughter June Schreiner starting doing theater here when she was about ten (something we probably would never have allowed had we still been in L.A.) and fell in love. She ended up working professionally and got quite a bit of attention for playing Ado Annie in Arena Stage's production of Oklahoma! She was only 16 and got cast over many more accomplished NYC actresses. Her reviews were amazing and she got lots of press. She didn't want to do any acting while going to Tulane University, but she graduated last May and moved to L.A. where she has quickly booked guest-starring roles on NCIS, Pure Genius, Criminal Minds, and Bosch. So even though we got out of the entertainment industry, it's still in the family. 

Amy Lynne (s5): When I was on The Ann Jillian Show, my mom got ill with cancer. It's a fickle business and no one took me under their wing to help me stay in the business. So when my mom died in 1990, I was totally distracted and didn't know how I would go about it. I got rid of my manager. I lost my mom and my career at once. I never thought I'd do something else.

I did what I thought was the smart thing and went to school to have something to fall back on. I went to nursing school. I became a nurse about seven years after my mom passed. I knew I didn't want to be a waitress in between auditions my whole life.

Now I do nurse anesthesia. It's odd to find someone who has gone from a career that is all about yourself to a career that is all about other people. It's certainly not glamorous. (laughs)

I was making pretty good money [as an actress] but it all got spent. My parents never saved it. Now I've got tons of student loans, medical debt. Hollywood is really not the best place for kids but it doesn't always end badly. Once in a while people end up okay.
Nicole Nourmand (s5): I am a pediatrician in Beverly Hills. 

Alyson Croft (s5): I am still acting. [I'm also] a playwright and proud mother. [I asked for examples of her work.] Most notable [plays]: Cellophane City (LA Weekly Award—Best One-Act Playwright), Fat Chicks, Fifth and Spring (LA Weekly—top 10 of the year), The Deal. Acting: been doing commercials this year mostly (Direct TV, ATT, etc.).
Jason Naylor (s6, 7): Last weekend [October 2016], I attended a spoken Latin immersion event at the Getty Villa as well as the wedding reception of a former bandmate and her betrothed, while this weekend, I visit my award-winning brewer friend in San Diego to brew the first of five beers we intend to submit to the National Homebrew Competition in spring 2017. In addition to these diversions, I also take great pleasure in reading, music, cooking, and camping.
Ellen Latzen (s6): I'm currently producing a podcast called Watched on the child acting industry. It's a look beneath the surface of a childhood spent in front of the camera, exploring the realities of child stardom, the sacrifices made, and the benefits vs. downsides to the industry. I also go deep within myself to uncover my own true feelings of having grown up a child actor.
Victor DiMattia (s6): I went to school for directing and writing. Since graduating I have made a few short films of my own and am currently in pre-production on a web series. I've also worked on friends' projects here and there in different capacities.
Darrell Thomas Utley (s6): I'm currently a stay-at-home father for my two daughters, and I hope to start a business someday in the restaurant industry. I have had a passion [to start] one for so long. Perhaps soon! On the side, I restore vintage air-cooled Volkswagens and enjoy serving on nonprofits. Currently I am on the California Association of the Deaf board in Southern California. I also serve on the PTO at my daughters' school.

Susan Kohler (s6): I'm still acting and now writing songs and recording. I have two film scripts in development. I also work with our dementia population, training families and healthcare staff how best to communicate with the person living with dementia. I'm the author of How to Communicate With Alzheimer's. 
Danielle von Zerneck (s6): Produce film/TV, most recently Recovery Road for Freeform (formerly ABC Family).
Debra Engle (s7): I am a theater teacher for the elementary arts. I stopped acting when [one of my] daughters was diagnosed with autism. I was taking her to 28 appointments a week. When they were going into elementary school, I started classroom teaching again because I wanted to have the same schedule as they did so I could spend more time with them. I did not know LAUSD [Los Angeles Unified School District] had arts programs. It is so fun [that I still get to act] when I have to show them program elements; [for example], how to be all their character. The Gingerbread Man in kindergarten. The Lion and the Mouse in 1st. Cinderella/Cinderfella in 2nd. The First Monkey in the Philippines in 3rd. Melodrama in 4th, the big bullying project in 5th. When I am teaching theater, I say that there always has to be a conflict and sometimes you can be the bad one, which can be so interesting [as an actor]. Obviously I was one in that Family Ties.
Hilary Shepard (s7): I'm semi-retired and do some jobs just when people remember me and call. My most iconic roles were playing Divatox the evil queen in the [1997] Power Rangers movie and on the TV series and also my recurring role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I go to a lot of comic-cons all over the world and meet my fans. I am also writing a book called Wild Love with my best friend Daryl Hannah, coming out from Penguin Books next year. I [had] a movie called Teen Warlock [come] out at Halloween and I'm doing a movie called The Order with [many former] Power Rangers and a fun cosplay crafting show called Super Fan Party Plan where I show you how to create cool theme parties. So yeah, my retirement is going very nicely, actually!
Christina Pickles (s7): I shot the second season of my web series Break a Hip and [I've worked] on Great News, the Tina Fey-produced series. 

Nick Rutherford (s7): I'm on a show on Adult Swim called Dream Corp, LLC that is half live-action and half Rotoscope animation. The filming is incredibly fun and imaginative. [I'm also doing] this show called Crunch Time. It is hilarious and has an incredible cast. Most of us knew each other from before and we all get along very well. Doesn't hurt that it shoots in Austin so we all end up living together and hanging out like an extended adult summer camp. Also, I do stand-up regularly in Los Angeles and around the country when I can.
Byron Thames (s7): My wife Tricia Leigh Fisher and I just wrote and directed an independent pilot called Sleepovers that I'm excited about. I have three kids, the oldest of whom, Hudson Thames, is signed to Republic Records. I'm enjoying working with him on music, as I'm also a musician.
Jaclyn Bernstein (s7): I started working when I was three years old and didn't stop until about 13-14 years old, at which time I became really dismayed with the experiences I was starting to have as a young female in the business. I'd grown up on sets and didn't know much else. So I enrolled myself in a big public high school in Los Angeles and got really involved as a youth activist doing community arts organizing and indigenous studies. I later studied anthropology and moved to central Mexico where I married and lived for many, many years. I still do community arts organizing and have recently returned to acting. Everything comes full circle.

Part 9.
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