her last chance

April 26, 1996

April 26, 1996

Malibu ShoresUnfortunately, this was the first and last cast party for Malibu  Shores – eight episodes aired on NBC at 8 PM Saturday nights before we got cancelled. It makes me feel a little bit better (but not much) that our time slot was referred to as the “Tower of London” – where shows were sent to await execution.

Malibu Shores TV

Pull the plug

Malibu Shores TV - OFF

This was my only experience on staff at a TV show. At first, it was a huge shock to my system – we were expected to work in the Aaron Spelling offices from 9 AM until midnight or beyond (plus weekends) if necessary. Eventually, I adapted and grew to love it right around the time it ended. The time pressure could be as exhilerating as it was exhausting. It was gratifying to see what we wrote produced as soon as copies could be made instead of enduring the uncertainty of casting-contingent MOWs (also referenced above).

Charisma Carpenter
Charisma Carpenter

For the millions who never saw a moment of Malibu Shores, Charisma Carpenter was cast as the ultra-bitchy queen bee popular girl. She played the part perfectly – no one came  close to her reading in the casting process – which was truly a testament to her talent for acting. In person, she was delightful, friendly and unassuming.

Charisma Carpenter, Queen Bee
Charisma Carpenter, Queen Bee
Keri Russell
Keri Russell

Keri Russell was also terrific in the lead role, which she also nailed with a sensational audition.

Star-crossed Malibu Shores teen lovers Keri and Tony
Star-crossed Malibu Shores teen lovers Keri and Tony

I love to watch her brilliant, nuanced performance on The Americans today and remember the beautiful sun-kissed teen she played on Malibu Shores.

 

January 8, 1996

january-8-1996

Charlie, John Rowell, Gale Ann Hurd, Martha Coolidge on Paso Finos at Castaic
Charlie, John Rowell, Gale Ann Hurd, Martha Coolidge on Paso Finos at Castaic

 For a few years during the 90s, John and I got very involved with Paso Fino horses. In yet another example of what happens when I forget who I am, I love the image of myself riding a horse – my very first childhood idol was Annie Oakley – but I am not much of a horsewoman. I believe you can tell a lot about someone’s personality by the way they ride a horse. My friend Martha Coolidge and my husband both approached it as an exciting challenge, a test of strength and will – the harder it was to ride (dominate) a horse, the more they liked it.

Linda Fefferman, Martha Coolidge, Eva Gardos at the Agua Dulce ranch
Linda Faferman, Martha Coolidge, Eva Gardos at the Agua Dulce ranch

I approached it in a timid, more cowardly fashion. My attitude was, if I’m super nice to the horse, maybe the horse won’t throw me.  This meant I came loaded with apples and carrots to buy their affection and rode with a mind-set of “please go this way, please don’t go too fast.” As anyone with the slightest knowledge of horses can confirm, my approach does not work. The more hesitant I acted, the more nervous the horse became, making a mishap all but inevitable.

Petting a horse in the hopes it will like me
Petting a horse in the hopes it will like me

Luckily, I connected with a larger-than-usual Paso Fino named Ramon – a gentle giant – steady as a rock.  To ride him, all I had to do was avoid a full-blown panic attack. Ramon coped with any and all natural obstacles, the epitome of calm. (I’m told before he came to Agua Dulce he was a trail horse in the Sierras and saw it all – a possible explanation for his steady nature.) Soon other nervous riders caught on to the advantages of riding Ramon and he became a much-in-demand horse.

Feeding horse treats in the hope it will like me
Feeding horse treats in the hope it will like me

As a writer, I was every bit as nervous as I was as a rider but there was no Ramon to carry me safely home. Every assignment brought new challenges and I never felt certain I could meet them.  Although I know a fair number of writers, the nature of the profession is such that I never observe them at work. Consequently, I don’t know how many – if any – write from my swamp of insecurity.  I suspect there are quite a few.


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