About "These Are Their Stories"

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Alana De La Garza - Not a Damsel In Distress

Here’s an article from an Australian news web site (The Herald Sun) that I thought shed an interesting light on Alana De La Garza, currently starring on Law & Order as ADA Connie Rubirosa. I have to admit that when De La Garza started with Law & Order that I wasn’t thrilled. Her performance was stiff, and the look that they gave her was cold and severe. It was almost as if they were trying to cast off any residue from her role on CSI Miami, where she played the beautiful Marisol Delko, who needed constant rescuing from Horatio Caine (David Caruso). I can understand why they wanted a different look for her for Law & Order, but they really went too far, and in the wrong direction. This season, she has a much softer, more realistic look, and I think that it has even helped her performance seem more believable.

Here’s the article from The Herald Sun. Enjoy!

Alana De La Garza on her role in Law & Order
December 14, 2007

ALANA De La Garza is a law unto herself as the sassy, tough-talking Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa on Ten's Law & Order.

Previously, perhaps because of her strikingly beautiful looks, the 31-year-old Texas-raised former model was always cast as the “damsel in distress'' -- she was the one who needed to be saved.

Starring as Rubirosa, opposite Sam Waterston's Jack McCoy, De La Garza is doing the saving.

“I was always whining and crying. It was like `Oh, get over it','' De La Garza (above) says of the characters she has previously played.

“So it's really fun to now help the damsel.''

The actor is the latest addition to the Law & Order cast; joining in the show's 17th season Rubirosa succeeds Alexandra Borgia, who was murdered in the final episode of the previous season.

But the role almost didn't happen for De La Garza.

She had auditioned for the part of a detective on the show, when the show's creator, Dick Wolf, suddenly asked her: “How are you at cold readings?''

To which De La Garza replied: “I think we're about to find out.''

So she tested for Rubirosa and won the part. It helped that her Latin looks fitted with Rubirosa's Hispanic heritage.

In reality, De La Garza's ethnic make-up is more diverse than that of her character. Her father is Spanish-Mexican and her mother Irish-Cherokee.

Interestingly, when she previously went for roles that called for an Hispanic actress, De La Garza was told she didn't look Latin enough.

But she's enjoying playing an educated and intelligent Latina.

“When it comes to exploring immigration issues, Connie's background comes into play,'' she says.

“She can really identify with that and how she is torn between rules and regulations and what is fair to the population. She is in the middle, because these are her roots.''

Before De La Garza filmed her first scenes, the producers took her to a real district attorney's office where she watched people being arraigned and talked with female DAs.

“It was really interesting and I learnt a lot,'' she says.

“What stood out was the dichotomy between the law and what your heart says.

“I saw a mother who was trying to protect her child, but she had done something illegal.

“By all rights, you probably would have done the same thing.

“So it is really interesting what they have to deal with. That really humanised the role for me.''

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
All Things Law & Order.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

February 1st - Happy Birthday Linus Roache

Law & Order fans became familiar with Linus Roache when he began this season as EADA Michael Cutter, filling the big shoes of Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston). But Roache already had a lengthy list of films and television shows to his credit.

Linus William Roache was born February 1, 1964 in Manchester, England, the son of actor William Roache and actress Anna Cropper. Since 1960, William Roache has played “Ken Barlow” on the UK’s longest-running soap, “Coronation Street. ” In fact, Linus began his acting career when he was a young boy on that same show. He spent much of his early career on stage.

He gained recognition playing a gay Catholic priest in Antonia Bird's 1994 movie, “Priest”. He subsequently appeared in many varied movie roles. Here’s a listing of his performing credits:

Onedin Line (1971), TV Series
Coronation Street (1960) TV Series, as Peter Barlow (1975)
No Surrender (1985) as Ulster Boy
Omnibus TV Series (1990) as Vincent Van Gogh
Priest (1994) as Father Greg Pilkington
Seaforth (1994) TV Series, as Bob Longman
How High the Moon (1994) (mini) TV Series
The Wings of the Dove (1997) as Merton Densher
Shot Through the Heart (1998) (TV) as Vlado
Venice Project (1999), as Count Jacko/Count Giaccomo
Siam Sunset (1999) as Perry
Best (2000) as Denis Law
Pandaemonium (2000) - playing Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Hart's War (2002) as Capt. Peter A. Ross
Gathering Storm (2002) (TV) as Ralph Wigram
RFK (2002 TV) as Robert F. Kennedy
Beyond Borders (2003) as Henry Bauford
Blind Flight (2003) as John McCarthy
The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) as the "Purifier"
12 and Holding (2005) as Mr. Carges
The Forgotten (2004) as Mr. Shineer
Batman Begins (2005) as Dr. Thomas Wayne
Find Me Guilty (2006) as Sean Kierney
Kidnapped (2006) TV Series as Andy Archer
Law & Order TV Series (2008) as Michael Cutter

The Internet Movie Database says that Linus is a vegetarian – so let’s all have a nice big salad to celebrate his birthday.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
All Things Law & Order.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dick Wolf Faces NBC-Universal in Lawsuit

The Hollywood Reporter says Dick Wolf is involved in a legal mess of his own. Let’s hope he has a good lawyer. Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) is reportedly not available.

They reported on January 27:

“ "Law & Order" chief Dick Wolf has his own real-life legal woes.

On Friday, NBC-Universal Network Programming and Universal Network Television filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the "L&O" creator and executive producer asking the court to interpret a contract between the two over the amount of executive producer fees Wolf is entitled to receive for the all three series, which include "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."

At issue is an agreement signed in September 2004 by the two sides that included provisions for Wolf's executive producer fees, imputed license fees and other fees and compensation for the "Law & Order" series.

NBC Universal claims the agreement is a "pay-or-play" contract calling for Wolf to be paid executive producer fees in 48-episode blocks upon each order from NBC, regardless of how many episodes are actually ordered.

According to the complaint, Wolf has contended the 48-episode guarantee provides a "kill fee" in which he can be paid for two seasons of episodes of any "Law & Order" series, including ones that are not produced when NBC decides to not order more seasons. NBC Universal claim that Wolf's position would provide him "with an unintended windfall of millions of dollars."

NBC Universal's lawsuit has not changed Wolf's position on the issue.

"NBC Universal is trying to rewrite an existing contract," he said through a representative. "Apparently, our partner is willing to commission rewrites during the strike."

The litigation stems from Wolf's actions last March, when he told NBC Universal he had a "new interpretation" of the agreement, according to the lawsuit.

NBC Universal is asking the court to determine that its interpretation of the agreement is correct. If the court does not do so, then NBC Universal is asking the court to reform the "mistakenly written Wolf agreement."

NBC Universal, repped by outside counsel Scott Edelman, Michael Dore and Lynn Hang of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, seeks no monetary award other than costs of the suit. “ “

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
All Things Law & Order.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Law & Order's S. Epatha Merkerson Shines in “Come Back Little Sheba” on Broadway

(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
Epatha and Sam at premier of Come Back Little Sheba

The great reviews and positive commentaries are pouring in for S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order – Lt. Anita Van Buren) for her performance in the Broadway revival of “Come Back Little Sheba.”

The Wall Street Journal said today
… this deeply moving revival, which stars S. Epatha Merkerson of "Law & Order," is pitch-perfect from curtain to curtain… You wouldn't guess from watching "Law & Order" that Ms. Merkerson is a stage actress of the first rank. She brings Lola's melancholy and yearning to life with such soft-spoken understatement that you feel as though you'd wandered through the back door of her house and sat down at her kitchen table for a chat. Ms. Kazan, who is making her Broadway debut after a pair of buzzworthy performances Off Broadway in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" and "Things We Want," is no less impressive -- she has a knack for blending innocence with sensuality to devastating effect -- and Mr. Anderson, though he looks a bit young to be playing Ms. Merkerson's husband, rises effortlessly to the challenge of the climactic scene in which he falls off the wagon and tells Lola all the things she doesn't want to know.”

The New Jesey Star-Ledger says, “Yet Merkerson, who is on-stage virtually the entire time, had a moment of pure panic during rehearsals in Los Angeles, where the show ran initially. She was suddenly overwhelmed by Lola's childlike behavior, her relentless neediness and immaturity.

"I was in tears, saying 'you've made a huge mistake, you're not going to be able to do this,'" she recalls.

Pressman encouraged her to find the character bit by bit. "The mountain just seemed so big to her at that point," he says.

Merkerson conquered her fear and found her voice by using her upper register instead of the lower, more authoritative tones that she relies on for Van Buren. (Lola only learns to speak that way gradually, toward the end of the play.) Still, this trait remains her biggest challenge: "It's something I have to stay on top of every night." "

USA Today comments, “S. Epatha Merkerson, who stars in the Manhattan Theatre Club's new revival of Come Back, Little Sheba (* * * out of four), is best known for playing another strong-minded gal, police Lt. Anita Van Buren, on TV's Law & Order. But in Sheba, which opened Thursday at the Biltmore Theatre, the veteran actress is equally potent as a relative mouse of a woman.

Playing Lola, the meek, haunted wife of Doc Delaney, a recovering alcoholic, Merkerson delivers a performance of aching sweetness and devastating sadness. It is by no means a flashy star turn; Michael Pressman directs William Inge's classic account of a middle-aged couple grappling with past and present disappointments as an ensemble piece, so that no character or performance feels less than integral to the whole.

But Merkerson's needy, heartbreaking Lola is clearly the emotional core. When we meet her, she recounts one in a series of recurring dreams about the titular Sheba, her beloved dog, who "just vanished one day — vanished into thin air." Sheba's sudden disappearance actually symbolizes various losses, chief among them that of Lola's youth and its promise, and the death of the baby whose conception forced Lola and Doc (from his perspective, at least) into an early marriage.”

And Theatremania.com says, Lastly, Merkerson -- as anyone who has seen her prior work on stage, for 14 seasons as Anita Van Buren on NBC's Law & Order, or in her Emmy Award-winning role in HBO's Lackawanna Blues can attest -- is a performer of uncommon strength and intelligence, attributes that can hardly be applied to Lola. So, it's a testament to Merkerson's consummate skill and smart choices that she basically hits a home run -- or at least a solid triple -- eventually delivering a heartbreaking portrayal of an unhappy, frightened, and almost infantilized woman who must finally grow up and face reality after her alcoholic husband Doc (Kevin Anderson) falls off the wagon again."

There are many more great reviews about Epatha’s performance. One thing is for certain; S. Epatha Merkerson’s talents are getting much deserved attention. We can only hope she gets to show them more often in her role on Law & Order.

Manhattan Theatre Club,
Biltmore Theatre, 261 W. 47th St. ($46.50-$91.50),
212-239-6200/800-432-7250, closes Mar. 16

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
All Things Law & Order.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fred Thompson (Smartly) Calls it Quits

Fred Thompson, Republican actor-politician, quit his bid for the White House on Tuesday, January 22. This was after lackluster finishes in early primary and caucus states.

In a short statement, Thompson said, “Today, I have withdrawn my candidacy for president of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort."

There seemed to be far more interest in Thompson before he officially threw his hat into the ring, when he seemed to rate high in the polls. This interest quickly died when Thompson seemed to lack the interest in, or the energy for, the campaign process, and his polls numbers took a subsequent dive as well.

The New York Times TV Decoder speculates:

“…will the actor Fred Thompson return to the comfortable set of the long-running NBC drama “Law & Order?

It looks unlikely, but the parties involved would be foolish to rule it out. Mr. Thompson played Arthur Branch, the Manhattan district attorney, on the NBC series until May. Mr. Branch’s long-time deputy Jack McCoy, played by Sam Waterston, was promoted to the top job in the most recent season of the series, which premiered Jan. 2.

If Mr. Thompson does re-appear on “Law & Order,” it would likely not occur until the 2008/09 television season, and even then, he would probably only appear in a cameo. Dick Wolf, the creator of “Law & Order,” was not available to comment on Tuesday.”

Hopefully, Dick Wolf et.al. won’t even consider bringing Thompson back, even for a cameo role. Sam Waterston seems to be doing an excellent job in his role of District Attorney Jack McCoy, thank you. And Sam looks happier than ever. I don't think the show needs Fred's help.

So long Fred – here’s one Law & Order fan that won’t miss you, either on the show or the campaign trail.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
All Things Law & Order.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Mariska!

Mariska Magdolina Hargitay was born on January 23, 1964. Her parents were actress/sex symbol Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay, who was a former Mr. Universe. She is the sister of Zoltan Hargitay and (Miklos) Mickey Hargitay Jr., and half-sister of Jayne Marie Mansfield (Jayne's daughter from her first marriage), Antonio Raphael Ottaviano Cimber a.k.a. Tony Cimber (from her mother's third marriage), and of Tina Hargitay (from her father's first marriage).

Mariska’s first appearance in the spotlight was a tragic one. In June 1967, when Mariska was three years old, her mother was killed in a car accident along with the car’s driver (Mansfield's boyfriend, attorney Sam Brody). Mariska and her two brothers were asleep in the back seat of the car and escaped major injury. She does have a zigzag scar on the side of her head as a reminder of the accident, of which she has no real memory.

Mariska had varied television roles early in her career: “Downtown”, “Falcon Crest”, “Tequila & Bonetti”, and appeared in an episode of “Seinfeld”. The role where I first remember seeing her was her recurring role as Cynthia Hooper during the fourth season of ER.

Law & Order SVU gave Mariska probably the best role she’s ever had – Olivia Benson - a smart, streetwise yet caring detective working for “special victims.” This role has given Mariska some worthy acknowledgement of her talents, by bringing her Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2004, 2005, 2006 (she won in 2006), and her fourth consecutive nomination in 2007. She also received a Golden Globe in 2005 for the role as Best Actress in a Drama Series.

Mariska is married to Peter Hermann (who you might know as the sometimes annoying defense attorney on SVU, Trevor Langan), and they have one child, August Miklos Friedrich Hermann.

Mariska also founded The Joyful Heart Foundation, who helps survivors of sexual assault.

Have a great birthday, Mariska!

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
All Things Law & Order.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sam Waterston Joins Oceana's Board Of Directors

Ecorazzi.com, billed as a “green gossip” website, reports the following:

"Oscar-nominated actor and star of NBC’s Law & Order, Sam Waterston, has been called up to join Oceana’s Board of Directors. He’ll be in good company — celebrity/activist Ted Danson has been a member of the board for over twenty years. For Waterston, the impetus to participate goes back to experiences from his youth.

“I got involved with Oceana initially because I grew up beside the ocean in New England and loved it, When I learned that the collapse of the New England cod fishery was final, with all that meant for the communities and fishermen there, I wanted to help,” noted Waterston. “I started to read more and more scientific reports clearly showing that our oceans are headed towards an irreversible collapse and I learned that Oceana was actually doing something about it. I like their science-based, results driven approach. When asked to join the board, I felt that I had to join and do all that I could.”

Ted Danson had nothing but praise for Waterston’s decision. “What a coup for Oceana,” said Danson. “I love Sam’s work as an actor and I am very excited to have an excuse to spend more time with him. I know he will help Oceana get even more done. It really is incredible how much we’ve been able to get done in the past few years.”

Oceana recently became a partner in Discovery Channel’s Planet Green Network. Since 2001, they’ve won over fifteen major victories for the oceans — including the protection of one million square miles of ocean habitat. For more information on the org, or how you can help, check out their official site.”

Oceana’s web site can be found at this link.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
All Things Law & Order.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Vincent D’Onofrio – The Man of a Thousand Faces

Vincent is probably best known and recognized in his current role of Bobby Goren on Law & Order Criminal Intent. But he has an extensive background in movies, and frequently he changes his looks – and maybe even his personality - to fit the role.

Most notable was his weight gain for the role of Pvt. Pyle in the Kubrick film “Full Metal Jacket." He gained 70 pounds over a period of 7 months, and lost the weight later over a period of 9 months.

But Vincent making changes in his appearance for his characters didn’t stop with that role. Here are some of Vincent’s other “looks” from some of his other films:

“Adventures in Babysitting” – as the blonde Thor
"Full Metal Jacket", with his weight gain, as Pvt. Pyle

“Ed Wood” where he played Orson Welles

“The Whole Wide World” where he starred as Robert Howard, the subject of the movie:

“Men In Black” as the alien “Edgar”. I think this actually fit Vincent very well.

“The Newton Boys” as Dock Newton:

“The Thirteenth Floor” as Jason Whitney:

“The Cell” one of his creepier roles:

“The Salton Sea” as Pooh-Bear:

"Steal This Movie" as Abbie Hoffman:

Vincent has also changed his look during the Law & Order Criminal Intent years.

Vincent is what I consider a “journeyman” actor; he’s able to fit into many roles, with varied looks, personalities, and temperaments, and he appears more often than people realize. I’ve actually seen many movies with Vincent in them, but never knew it until much later. He blends into his roles so well that it’s almost as if he becomes the character, and ceases to be Vincent. Since he seems to immerse himself in his characters, I find myself wondering how much of the role is his acting, and how much of it is the real Vincent D’Onofrio? Either way, if you see him in Criminal Intent, or a movie, you are guaranteed an intense performance.

To use a tag line from the old game show “To Tell the Truth”: Will the real Vincent D’Onofrio please stand up?

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
All Things Law & Order.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Star is Born: Chris Noth and Tara Wilson have a Boy!

People Magazine has announced that Chris Noth, currently on Law & Order Criminal Intent, and his long time girlfriend Tara Wilson are now the proud parents of a baby boy.

People reports that “Orion Christopher Noth was born in Los Angeles on Friday, and weighed 7 lbs., 10 oz.”

The name certainly could have "star" power. Congratulations to Chris and Tara!

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
All Things Law & Order.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Vincent D’Onofrio Shows Support for the WGA Strike

Over 250 WGA picketers attended a rally on Thursday, January 16, outside the One Life To Live Studios off Central Park West. Included in the group was Law & Order Criminal Intent favorite, Vincent D’Onofrio, sporting a beard. Others picketing included actors from One Life To Live and staffers from Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and The Colbert Report.

Note to Vincent: Lose the beard, it’s not a good look for you. And work to lose the weight…after all, you only have one life to live.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
All Things Law & Order.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jesse L. Martin

Jesse L. Martin, who plays Detective Ed Green on Law & Order, is celebrating his birthday today. He was born on January 18, 1969 as Jesse Lamont Watkins, in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and took his current surname of Martin from his mother’s second husband.

Jesse attended grade school in Buffalo, NY, and during that time, a teacher cast him as a pastor in a play. Jesse was a success in the role, and was bitten by the acting bug.

While at high school - the The Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts - he was voted "Most Talented" in his senior class. He also attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts Theater Program, and later toured with John Houseman's The Acting Company.

Jesse has a long list of credits. Besides his stint on Law & Order, he has also appeared in the movie “Rent”, and TV shows Ali McBeal and The X-Files. He also appeared in the original Broadway version of “Rent.” Jesse is slated for the movie production of “Sexual Healing,” playing the role of singer Marvin Gaye.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
All Things Law & Order.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Featuring Sam Waterston: The Killing Fields

This inaugural edition of “These are Their Stories” highlights Sam Waterston, who plays District Attorney Jack McCoy on Law & Order.

While many may be very familiar with Sam from the Law & Order series, many may not realize that he was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of reporter Sydney Schanberg in the movie “The Killing Fields.”

“The Killing Fields” is based on the stories of real-life journalists Dith Pran (Haing S. Ngor), Sydney Schanberg (Waterston), and Jon Swain (Julian Sands), as they cover the Cambodian War in the 1970s. The movie covers the friendship between these journalists, but also the horrors of this war.

The Cambodian National Army is fighting the communist Khmer Rouge, made even more complicated by the neighboring Vietnam War. During the war, Schanberg and Pran become separated, when an attempt to forge a passport for Pran’s escape fails. Schanberg later struggles to find Pran, who was forced to live by the rules of the oppressive, murderous Khmer Rouge. It is hard to describe the scene were Pran encounters the “killing fields,” which were areas where the Khmer Rouge massacred large numbers of people and buried their bodies in mass graves. The exact number killed is not known, but it is estimated that at least 2 million people were killed during this time – out of a population of about 7 million.

Waterston and Ngor

The film won three Academy Awards, Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Haing S. Ngor, Best Cinematography for Chris Menges, and Best Film Editing for Jim Clark. Waterston was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and there were additional nominations for Best Director, Best Writing/Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, and for Best Picture. Waterston’s performance in this movie was certainly Oscar-worthy. It is hard not to feel the pain and anguish that Schanberg experienced while he covered the war, and later, when he searches for his friend. It is very hard not to come to tears when the two reunite at the end.

A few years ago, I became acquainted with a woman who I later discovered had fled Cambodia with her mother during the Cambodian War. She described the horror being surrounded by the constant threat of death, and the struggle her family experienced escaping. She saw the movie “The Killing Fields” and said it was a very accurate accounting of what was occurring in Cambodia at that time. While she identified with the plight of Dith Pran, she indicated that Waterston’s portrayal of Schanberg reminded her of all the kind people who faced huge hurdles and great risks in supporting her family’s flight from the country.

Sam’s humanitarian efforts include the support of Refugees International, an organization that “generates lifesaving humanitarian assistance and protection for displaced persons around the world and works to end the conditions that create displacement.”

If you’re only familiar with Sam from his Law & Order role, you may want to check out “The Killing Fields” and watch how well this man can act. But I warn you – this is a very serious movie with very serious images. It will, however, be a movie, and a performance, that you will not soon forget.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
All Things Law & Order.