InDepth InterView: Linda Purl On HOMELAND, TRUE BLOOD, THE OFFICE, Live Shows & More!
Today we are talking to a very busy and very recognizable actress who has appeared in over a hundred TV and film properties since her debut in the 1970s and just this year played arcs on both the freshly-minted 2012 Emmy-winning Best Drama HOMELAND, as well as HBO's hit nighttime vampire series TRUE BLOOD - the accomplished and arresting Linda Purl. Discussing her roles on the hit HBO and Showtime series she has appeared on this season as well as her recent multi-episode stint on NBC's THE OFFICE, Purl sheds some light on her long and rich career and also shares stories from the sets of some of her most famous forays - Happy Days to HOMELAND and beyond. Additionally, we shed some light on her upcoming two-night-stand at Feinstein's At Loews Regency, MIDNIGHT CARAVAN… TRAVELS THROUGH THE GREAT NEW YORK NIGHTCLUBS, with special guest Desi Arnaz, Jr., and she sets the stage for what we can expect from the noir-inspired cabaret piece featuring songs of the 1940s and 1950s. Furthermore, Purl opens up about her theatrical roots - starring in plays and musicals lIke Oliver, THE KING & I and THE MIRACLE WORKER growing up overseas, as well as observing no less than Tennessee Williams, a friend of her parents, as he oversaw a Tokyo production of IN THE BAR OF A TOKYO HOTEL and resided with the clan (unexpectedly); and, later, starring on Broadway in THE ADVENTURES OF Tom Sawyer, GETTING AND SPENDING and in regional revivals, such as six seasons at Williamstown and A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE at LA's Rubicon. Additionally, she gives illuminating insight into many notable friends and collaborators - Edith Head, Angela Lansbury, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Laurence Olivier, Kim Hunter, Mandy Patinkin, Gregory Harrison, Robby Benson and others. Plus, first news on the forthcoming studio album of MIDNIGHT CARAVAN - and much, much more!
More information on Linda Purl's MIDNIGHT CARAVAN… TRAVELS THROUGH THE GREAT NEW YORK NIGHTCLUBS this week at Feinstein's At Loews Regency is available here.
For even more information, visit her official site here.
I Feel A Song Coming On
PC: Congratulations to you and the rest of The Cast and crew on the big Emmy night for HOMELAND earlier this week - what a sweep!
LP: Thank you! I think it really deserves all of the accolades it is receiving, too - I think it is a really great show.
PC: It was quite an upset - many expected MAD MEN to break the record.
LP: Oh, absolutely! But, I am so happy for everybody, though.
PC: Were you watching the awards at home?
LP: Well, we had some stuff going on that night so I actually heard about it through someone else and didn't see it myself, but I had been keeping my eye on the news and I got the whole briefing first thing the next morning, for sure.
PC: What can you tell me about working with Mandy Patinkin?
LP: Oh, well, he's just extraordinary! I mean, I still think about his performance in EVITA as being one of the great moments of being in the audience - just seeing and hearing Mandy in that role. So, working with beside him on HOMELAND, I finally thought, "Oh, OK. Now I know why he has such acclaim in musical theatre - he really is a phenomenal actor." He can do anything.
PC: He's known for being a bit eccentric - was it all a good experience for you, then?
LP: It was fantastic! It was a privilege! You know, when you get to Mandy's stature and place, I would say that perhaps another actor who has had that kind of beautiful success would take a role like this and just give it eighty percent - well, Mandy gives it two hundred percent! Every time.
PC: He really brings it.
LP: Yeah - I am so inspired by his work ethic. He's really, really done his homework and he has really, really given things a lot of thought, and, so, when you jump into a scene with him he is just so alive with the material - and, I'm not a writer, but I have to think that, as a writer, it is just astonishing to see what he does with your lines! [Laughs.]
PC: A lot of inventiveness.
LP: Oh, yeah - no two takes are ever the same! I mean that in the sense that he is so filled with ideas and willing to go with the moment, not that he is inconsistent - which he definitely is; consistent.
PC: How did you get involved with HOMELAND? It wasn't as a result of your connection with Mandy from CRIMINAL MINDS, was it?
LP: No - it was unrelated. I just auditioned for it and I ended up getting the role.
PC: You've had a remarkable year - multi-episode arcs on NBC's THE OFFICE, Showtime's HOMELAND and HBO's TRUE BLOOD. Which did you film first?
LP: I filmed THE OFFICE first. You know, that was just a blast - it was quite reminiscent to me of my years on Happy Days, actually.
PC: In what way?
LP: Well, again, it's a hard-working group - and they are all smart and funny and friends.
PC: A real camaraderie.
LP: Definitely. Very much in the same way that Garry Marshall set the tone for Happy Days, Steve [Carell] set the tone on that show - he was humble and smart and down-to-earth and on-time; just great. Also, it was a different way of working than I was used to on that set - I had never been on a set where the camera is as much a character in the scene as your fellow actors are.
PC: On that topic: what do you think of HD filming in general? How do you compare how most shows are filmed now compared to the three-camera set-ups on a studio show like Happy Days way back when?
LP: Well, you know, much of the process is the same - I would say it is much less obtrusive now; certainly arc lights and all of that are a thing of the past now with HD because, for the most part, you can use available lighting. Things move much more quickly now. So, from that point of view, I guess it is pretty fascinating that you can keep getting closer and closer to real-life because the equipment is so small compared to even how big it was a decade ago.
PC: It allows so much more freedom.
LP: It does - but, I have to say, from a vanity point of view? HD TV is really harsh! [Laughs.]
PC: You looks so fantastic, though! What's your secret?
LP: Thank you. I have a teenage son, so I have to keep up with him.
PC: What do you think of the generation now and the one coming up, like your son - the Bieber generation?
LP: It's exciting - I mean, the world is changing so quickly, but they will have a big tool belt to help navigate what's happening in the world. I think it's a fabulous time for maverick mindsets and entrepreneurial mindsets because the tools for people to express their own identities and build their own companies and networks are pretty much infinite now, so I think it's really exciting that the playing field has been leveled to the extent that it has; and, it seems to only be going further in that direction.
PC: What are your thoughts on the success of reality TV?
LP: [Sighs.] It's heartbreaking to me. It doesn't have anything to do with anything, does it?
PC: Most of the shows do not.
LP: Yeah, I mean, I look at all of those out-of-work designers and location scouts and writers and directors and you-name-it - the craftsmanship of storytelling and the care put into storytelling by all of those individuals is just cast to the side in favor of… [Pause.] I mean, far be it from me to judge somebody else's entertainment, but I don't get it - I don't seek it out and it doesn't interest me and I think we are losing a lot as an industry as a result of reality shows.
PC: You have headlined many TV movies and miniseries - what are your thoughts on them now as a seemingly non-existent genre outside of the occasion exception to the general rule on cable?
LP: Well, I think that a lot of that has to do with the sheer amount of excellent television that is out there now - as we witnessed with the Emmy nominations; there is some incredible writing going on right now and some fantastic acting on TV these days. To be honest, it's probably better writing than what was going on on the best shows in the 1960s and 70s - and I can say that because I was a part of it! [Laughs.]
PC: You certainly have earned the right.
LP: I mean, there were people who did such beautiful work then, but it's so much more prevalent now. But, getting back to my son and how I see his generation reacting to it, I have to say that I don't see them watching a lot of television series - I guess they don't necessarily have the time for it or the interest in it or they would just rather be doing more interactive things with on-screen stuff; they spend a lot of time with virtual reality and texting and Facebook and Instagram. You know, their entertainment comes from very, very different forms than what we sought out in my generation, and, I'd dare even say, your generation and the people your age.
PC: Do you think TV has the best storytelling of any format right now?
LP: I do.
PC: The best scripts and the best roles, too?
LP: I do. I really do.
PC: Do you prefer one format to another? Since you've worked more extensively in TV than film or stage, I'd assume TV - true?
LP: No - not at all, actually. I have always considered myself a journeyman actor, so I honestly like working in all mediums equally. In many ways, the process is the same whether you are working onstage on a play or on film or on TV or on cable - you have your alchemy with the script and the character and you sort of go through your creative process in finding who that character is and how that that character serves the storyline and you give it your best shot! That's all it is, really, I think.
PC: All of acting in a one-sentence nutshell!
LP: [Laughs.] That's what it comes down to usually - whatever it is.
PC: Is it easier now to transition from one format to another or do you find you have done it all all along so it is difficult to have any perspective on it?
LP: Yes, I do think I have been lucky in that regard - I have been lucky enough to do it all and I just love it all, so I feel lucky to have been able to work in many mediums and on all different type of shows.
PC: TRUE BLOOD is quite unlike anything on TV before in a number of ways - it pushes the limits of TV. Did Alan Ball seek you out to appear on it?
LP: Yes, he did. So, then, I went in and I met with them. Now, that was interesting!
PC: Why so?
LP: Well, first of all, Joe [Manganiello] could just stand there and we could just look at him and that would be enough. [Laughs.] He's just gorgeous!
PC: He's having a big career year, too - MAGIC MIKE, as well.
LP: Joe is a fantastic, fantastic actor. You know, he is really interesting to me because he could have just gone to the modeling agency or the acting agency and said, "Here I am! Let's go!" and he would have gotten something. But, the dude has major chops - he is a classically-trained actor. The doors were flung open for him for football, too, at one point, but he said, "No. I think I want to be an actor," so, you know, that took some chutzpah! So, he's got the training to back it all up and that is a very unusual combination to have everything he has, I think.
PC: Was it a bit harried since they fit so much into every eight-day-shoot for every episode?
LP: Actually, no - it was more like a feature film pace to me. But, you know, maybe things were going particularly well the days I was there! [Laughs.]
PC: That could be, too.
LP: Again, like on HOMELAND, I was just really, really impressed with the writing and the care that was taken by the producers and director and crew when we were there. It was wonderful.
PC: Are you a fan of the show or is it too scary for you?
LP: Well, I'll be honest and say that I hadn't really been a fan before I was cast, but that was mostly just because of time constraints and I just hadn't had the chance to watch it.
PC: Life precluded it.
LP: Right. But, once I was put on as a recurring role, I thought, "I better do my homework!" And, I'll admit, I was a little bit "Umm…," at the start, but I realized how nuanced and creative it was as I continued to watch it. And, before I knew it, I got drawn in!
PC: Did you shoot more than what made it into the show - or, maybe material that will show up next season?
LP: Yes. Mostly it was just longer versions of the scenes, but there might have been a few scenes that didn't end up in there at all - but, you know, that's always par for the course.
PC: Will there be a return for your character next year?
LP: Well, they have said yes, but they are not contractually obligated to bring me back, so we will just hold onto hope until then. [Laughs.]
PC: Have you ever played a vampire or a werewolf?
LP: No, I haven't! I haven't played an alien, either! This was another notch in the belt for me.
PC: You also appeared in the final season of DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. What was your experience like on that set?
LP: Oh, well, heavens, that was fun! Just to be part of such an iconic show was lovely for me. It was great - a lot of fun to do. All The Cast was great to me.
PC: Speaking of dynamic leading ladies of TV history: what can you reveal about working with fellow InDepth InterView participant Angela Lansbury on MURDER, SHE WROTE?
LP: Oh, well, Angela is just in a league of her own!
PC: You can say that again.
LP: You know, there have been a couple of times when you work with the best of the best people and you realize, "Oh, oh, so that's how it's supposed to be done." The first of my experiences like that was with Edith Head - I had a costume fitting with Edith Head for a film called W.C. Fields AND ME. It was a tiny little role and I came in for the fitting at Western Costumes, next to Paramount, and she had pulled a whole bunch of costumes for me to look at So, you know, there I am and I just feel like, "I'm such a nobody," and she sweetly looks at me and says, "Now, dear, which of these would you like to try on?" Like, she's asking me for my opinion!
PC: How generous of her.
LP: It was - and it was very important for her that I felt comfortable and that we settle on something together. She wanted to make me feel comfortable, and, to be honest, she could have dressed me in a pumpkin suit and I would have been thrilled! [Laughs.]
PC: Who wouldn't? It's Edith Head.
LP: She really understood the old adage that unless the actress is comfortable in the costume then the costume will not look good. You know: the costume can never wear the actress, the actress has to wear the costume.
PC: What do you take away from your experience with her at that fitting?
LP: I felt like she really had the humility to talk to me on her level - she was secure enough in the work that she didn't need to override the actor, she could just complement their work. So, when you come out of a meeting like that one, you say to yourself, "OK - note to self: that's how it should be done."
PC: On that note: do you generally consider yourself an internal or an external actress? Does the costume play a significant role in how you shape your character - and, also, how you see it yourself?
LP: Hmm. [Pause.] Well, there are those times when you have an idea of a character and then you put on the costume for the character designed by a brilliant designer and you realize, "Oh, thank you!" because it is that missing chunk that makes you come alive. It is a very important part of the process, that moment when you get your costume, and, I do think that sometimes costumes can help draw a character out of you. It was the same with Angela as it was with Edith - she was just so generous.
PC: Tell me about your time spent with Angela.
LP: She was always there onset, just off-camera. Besides being just wonderful on the show, she was so, so gracious to the people who came in - she made it a point when she was doing it to hire friends and contemporaries who were older and might not have been making their insurance to see that they would come on the show and do some good work and by doing that she would make sure they would keep up their health insurance. It wasn't handouts or anything, but she did it out of her own good nature.
PC: How unbelievably magnanimous of her.
LP: The sound man also told me that if somebody in the crew wanted to move up she would see to it that they had a break - for instance, the ADs would have a chance to direct. The sound man said, "I know I'm a sound man, but I have a writer in me; I've been listening to other people's dialogue for thirty years!" And, Angela got wind of the fact that he wanted to be a writer and she saw to it that he was able to write an episode to submit - and they shot the episode!
PC: What a heartwarming tale.
LP: Again, she would never say anything about this herself, but she really got the journey of an artist in a holistic sense and really tried to do something about it when she could, in the most gracious and professional way.
PC: Another great lady of the stage and screen I would love to hear your recollections of is your former mother-in-law Lucille Ball. What was she like one-on-one?
LP: Oh, she was great. You know, I knew her after she had not been working for a certain amount of time - she had chosen to stop working. In my interactions with her, I found that she was a very strong woman who was very smart, very loving, extremely family-orientated and a great backgammon player.
PC: She had had quite a life. Was she hard on you at all?
LP: Well, I honestly have to say that I never saw any of that with her - I can't speak to any of that, but she really struck me as a very strong woman with a lot of strength of character. She had a beautiful life and really treasured her family - and she was always very loving to me.
PC: Desi, Jr. will be joining you at Feinstein's, correct?
LP: Yes. Desi, Jr. will be on percussion.
PC: Obviously, your relationship remains amicable, post-divorce.
LP: Oh, of course - I've just been so blessed to have such a close friendship with him, and, also his lovely wife, Amy. They have been together for more than twenty-five years now. Desi, Jr. is just an incredible musician - he is phenomenal.
PC: What was Desi, Sr. like, from what you remember?
LP: Well, I don't think he was ever tested for it, but I suspect that if he had been he would have been categorized as a genius.
PC: He was a true pioneer.
LP: He wasn't a linear thinker - you know, somebody would come to him with a problem and he would go way outside the box, but he had this capacity to approach problem-solving from the underside of a brick wall; just a huge, huge talent. Again, I did not know him when he was working, I knew him much later in his life when he was having a very lovely, calm, quiet life by the seaside in Mexico.
PC: Will there be a Latin influence in any of the numbers at your Feinstein's show, MIDNIGHT CARAVAN?
LP: There will! As we were choosing the songs and building the arrangements for the songs for the show at Feinstein's and for the CD we are recording after, a few of the numbers just screamed to be Latin to us. So, I called Des and I asked if he would consider coming in and doing percussion - so, we're doing the two shows at Feinstein's and then we're going right into the studio to slam it all down.
PC: How big is your ensemble for the act?
LP: It's a five-piece - piano, bass, drums, reed and Desi on percussion.
PC: Who are you working with on the show?
LP: Well, Ted Firth is our musical director and I think he is just brilliant - he is such a beautiful jazz pianist. And, I have to say that the Great American Songbook, particularly from that era, intrigues me because the songs really feel like one-acts to me - they really are small plays.
PC: Without a doubt.
LP: I am approaching all of these songs mostly as an actress - as a singer, too, but these are all songs you can bite into; they have real bite. They all have emotional connections for me, too - and I find that to be really important in songs I perform. I want to bring as much as an actress as I do in anything else when I do this. You know, through the years, there have been some favorite songs of mine that I've done or always wanted to do all together, and, then, when I did the 92nd St. Y LYRICS & LYRICISTS series, I met Deborah Grace Winer, who runs it. She is just one of the smartest people I have ever met and I asked her to join me on the expedition of building a new cabaret act and a new CD. She introduced me to a gentleman that she wanted me to work with very much named Mark Waldrop, who has directed the show.
PC: How did you devise the theme and the style of the show?
LP: Well, we have sort of been the four musketeers on this - Ted, Deborah, Mark and myself - and we just listened to a lot of songs and got to where we are basically through the process of elimination. I think that once we had most of the songs, the show sort of dictated its own theme, in a way. When I was growing up, music was always on - and I think that was part of it being so hot and humid in the summer in Tokyo and people just playing as much music as possible to somehow distract you from how muggy it was. We didn't watch television - we didn't even have a television. We didn't listen to the radio, either. It was always vinyl on the turntable.
PC: What did you listen to mostly?
LP: We listened to a lot of musicals - any of the new musicals that were out. It's funny, because I realized that, years later, when I was with Desi, I remembered looking at the album cover of WILDCAT…
PC: Starring none other than Lucille Ball.
LP: Exactly. So, yeah, that was kind of weird. But, anyway, growing up, we listened to a lot of jazz - Brazilian jazz; Stan Getz, Lena Horne, Rosemary Clooney; all of those great gal singers were always on my parents' turntable. They were evocative - it was sort of like the voice of America then, to me. So, I got to imagine what life would be like in America through those songs and those singers and those cast recordings.
PC: Are there any songs that you always try to do in concert or is MIDNIGHT CARAVAN mostly new?
LP: It's all new! I think I may have sung "Spring Again" before, but it's an all-new show.
PC: What can you tell me about the songstack for the show - a lot of 1940s and 1950s material, yes?
LP: You bet! You bet. It's called MIDNIGHT CARAVAN… TRAVELS THROUGH THE GREAT NEW YORK NIGHTCLUBS. Let's see what songs - we have "I Feel A Song Coming On", "Let Me Love You", "Them There Eyes", "I've Thought About You", "My Romance", "Caravan", "Shall We Dance"…
PC: Speaking of "Shall We Dance" - you played Anna in THE KING & I once upon a time, yes?
LP: Yes, I did. Oh, my God - you have done your homework, Pat! [Laughs.]
PC: What other shows did you do in Tokyo - OLIVER? THE MIRACLE WORKER?
LP: Yes and yes - and, I also do THE RELAPSE and LITTLE MURDERS. I would say that THE KING & I, OLIVER and THE MIRACLE WORKER were the three big plays I did when I was younger that really got me in the saddle to be an actress - they were all really beautiful experiences for me that have changed the trajectory of my life. Even you might not even know this: Robby Benson was in our production of OLIVER…
PC: Actually, he did this column a few months ago and we discussed it - and you in it, as a matter of fact - but, nice try!
LP: [Big Laugh.] Oh, that's hilarious! That's so funny. Robby is just phenomenal - he has an amazing family, too. But, yeah, Robby was part of the show and I struck up a friendship with him on that - and his mom, as well, who just helped me so much early in my career. I have a story, though: a couple of years later, I guess Robbie was in Mexico shooting a movie - we had had no contact; this is long before the internet and all of that stuff - and they ended up needing someone to come in as the love interest on that film. So, they found me in Tokyo and I went down to Mexico and auditioned - and I ended up getting the film!
PC: No way!
LP: Yeah - it all worked out like that. So, I got an agent and that was the start of everything for me in my career, really. His mom, Ann, really taught me so much about the business - she taught me what an 8x10 was and everything; she really got me launched in the business in New York.
PC: Robby said that show was his inspiration to act, really.
LP: Yeah, I bet it was. It was a fabulous production - a huge orchestra.
PC: Much more recently, at Williamstown, you starred in a production of THE THREEPENNY OPERA, as well as many others. Did you enjoy working there?
LP: Are you kidding me? I loved working there! I loved it. It had a really big influence on me - you know, I was there for six seasons.
PC: I'd love to know about working with Kim Hunter on ALL THE WAY HOME.
LP: Oh, my God - it was brilliant. It's a magnificent play.
PC: Was she an influence on your growing up?
LP: She wasn't, but that's only because I didn't have access to her growing up, living in Tokyo - but I certainly knew who she was. Anyway, we shared a dressing room on ALL THE WAY HOME and she was just so wonderful - she was such a dear. She was so hard-working, too. She liked to tell stories, too, at that point in her career, and so I would just sit and listen - and, of course, she had great stories to tell!
PC: I can only imagine.
LP: As you know, she was part of one of the greatest times we've ever had in American theatre and she was a key player in it and knew all the key players in it - so, that was really wonderful to work with her.
PC: What have been your favorite roles thus far onstage?
LP: I'd have to say that playing Blanche in STREETCAR was one of the great privileges of my career - I did it out here, at the Rubicon, a few years back. That was… [Pause. Sighs.] It's a perfect play. It's an opera, in its own way.
LP: Tennessee Williams had lived with us for a while when I was a little girl, and, so, the play had special meaning for me.
PC: Wow! Please share a Tennessee Williams story!
LP: Well, one of his plays was being produced out there - IN THE BAR OF A TOKYO HOTEL - so he was invited out; of course, you know, he didn't come out just to stay with us! So, he brought his dog and he came with Annie Meachum. I remember when they got to customs in Tokyo, after the long flight, they told him that they had to put the dog in quarantine - and Tennessee would have none of that!
PC: I bet it was quite a scene.
LP: It was - the cultural attaché knew my parents and knew that they were theater lovers, so there was this frantic emergency call to my parents, "Tennessee Williams has a dog. Can it stay with you?" And, my dad said, "Uh, sure." So, the quarantine officers come out while Tennessee and Annie are jet-lagged and the quarantine officers make my dad practically sign away his life before they'll leave the dog there with him - threatening exportation if the dog doesn't stay there or if anything happens and it gets out. So, then, that was a done deal, upon which time Tennessee said "Wherever Gigi is staying, I am staying!" So, he ended up staying with us for a month. [Laughs.]
PC: What a sordid story!
LP: This is another story I can tell you about Tennessee: we had a lot of construction going on in the house at the time, so, one day, my mother noticed that Tennessee's door was ajar and he was typing, and, so, she said to him, "Tennessee, there's a lot of noise out here, would you like me to close the door?" And, he said, "No, my dear - the noise out there is nothing compared to the noise in my head." [Laughs.]
PC: How old were you at the time?
PC: Were you aware of who he was?
LP: Not really - I mean, I knew who he was, but I hadn't really seen the movies or anything like most Americans had; they were usually dubbed over there so we didn't go a lot of movies. I had seen a production of THE GLASS MENAGERIE in Japan, though, which I just loved…
PC: In Japanese? That must have been unique.
LP: Yes, it was. I spoke Japanese, so I guess you could say I got the poignancy of the story even if I lost some of the beautiful language that it has in English.
PC: What did Tennessee end up thinking of the TOKYO HOTEL production over there?
LP: Oh, it was a disaster - he couldn't stand the production and the whole thing was a total disaster.
PC: It is going to be revived in New York coming up next month, you know.
LP: Oh, I didn't know that! How interesting. It is a very little-known piece of his.
PC: Are there any roles of his you would like to do in the future since you have already done Amanda and Blanche? ORPHEUS DESCENDING may be a good fit for you someday, no?
LP: Oh, I love ORPHEUS DESCENDING! I would absolutely love to do that. MILK TRAIN [DOESN'T STOP HERE ANYMORE] would be fun. [NOT ABOUT] NIGHTINGALES, too.
PC: What about SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH? That may be back, too, next season - you may get your shot if you want it.
LP: Oh, yeah - I'd love to do SWEET BIRD, too.
PC: Since you did THE ADVENTURES Tom Sawyer on Broadway almost ten years ago, do you see another musical in your future sometime soon, would you say?
LP: Oh, I'd love to do another musical - yeah, for sure. I missed it, but I would have loved to have done NEXT TO NORMAL.
PC: What about Phyllis in FOLLIES?
LP: I would love to do FOLLIES. I actually had a chance to do A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC regionally, but it just didn't work out - there was some conflict with a TV gig and I couldn't do it and I was like, "Oh, God! I would have loved to do that!"
PC: Every singing actress wants to do "Send In The Clowns".
LP: Oh, yeah - and just to have the experience to be in a show with his music; with Sondheim's music. His music is so special and his material is so rich.
PC: You should consider adding some Sondheim material to your touring show with Gregory Harrison.
LP: That's a great idea! Greg is just a prince of a guy, you know. The show we do is a tribute to Broadway, so it's a lot of songs we have done and songs we want to do - you know, our careers are oddly kind of parallel; we both kind of made our way in television and then spent many years in the theatre, too. We have been friends forever. So, we just sort of drew the show together from all of that. When we first started talking about doing it, I said to Greg, "You have to do 'Some Enchanted Evening'!" It's a purely selfish thing, but I wanted to hear Gregory Harrison sing "Some Enchanted Evening" every night.
PC: For everyone's benefit.
LP: Definitely! We do a lot of fun stuff. We both would like to do ANNIE GET YOUR GUN someday, so we get to do it in this - we do a kind of mini-medley of songs from it. It's a lot of fun to see - we each do a little parody of our television movie-of-the-week work in it, too, and that kind of thing. But, yeah - we love doing that show. It's a lot of fun to tour with it.
PC: You have done so many TV films, I have to ask: what are your topmost favorites? Which one would you recommend people seek out?
LP: I really loved LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE - just because it was a true story about a couple who were mentally handicapped. I did that with Shaun Cassidy and I felt really, really privileged to be a part of that one in particular.
PC: Any others?
LP: Well, there was a great, big, sweeping miniseries that we got to do called THE MANIONS OF AMERICA that had just the most phenomenal cast - it was the first thing that Pierce Brosnan did for American television, I think. That was just a blast. We shot it over in Ireland and it was just a great experience.
PC: It must have been unforgettable to share a set with Sir Laurence Olivier like you did in the POMPEII miniseries.
LP: Oh, can you imagine? That was just amazing. Unforgettable is definitely the right word.
PC: What's next? This has been quite an eventful year.
LP: Honestly, at this point, I have no idea - the show at Feinstein's and the CD are the next things coming up, but I hope to come back to TRUE BLOOD next year. I have been very focused on the building on this show and CD, and, so the most immediate thing for me is to get the show up, then get in the studio with it and get the vocals down and get the musicians down and then stay in the studio and tweak it until we have it the way that we want.
PC: Have you played Feinstein's before?
LP: I have - and I love that room so much. I am so sad that it is closing soon. There are some fabulous rooms in New York, though.
PC: I'd be remiss if I didn't ask: are you aware the pilot for the STATE FAIR TV series you did, based on The Musical, is available on DVD?
LP: Really? It is? The best story behind that, honestly, for me, is really Julie Cobb - Lee J. Cobb's daughter - became a friend on that. You know, some shows give you presents and Julie was the present for me doing STATE FAIR.
PC: Would you recommend VISITING HOURS to those looking for a Halloween thrill - since is finally available on DVD?
LP: Oh, why, yes I would! [Laughs.] It's a very scary movie.
PC: Have you gone back and watched it?
LP: That was so long ago! I didn't even know it was out on DVD! So, really? It is?
PC: It is.
LP: Oh, God - maybe I will now; it's the right time of year, I guess, as you said. Who knows? [Laughs.]
PC: It is, indeed. Thank you so very much for this today, Linda. You've had quite a fascinating career - and the best is yet to come!
LP: Thank you, thank you, thank you, Pat - what a pleasure! This was so much fun. Bye bye.
From This Author Pat Cerasaro