This is my viewpoint, from the far end of the couch...an interview with actress Julie Ann Emery, spending part of my Memorial Day weekend with Adam Ferrara, and talking up TV writers who don't get enough credit.
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This week, I was reminded that I have some pretty fantastic friends. I'd like to introduce you to a few of them - not because they're my friends, but because they happen to be some truly talented and very lovely people whom you should know. Read on to meet them, and give them a watch sometime. You'll thank me later.Brittany Chats With...Julie Ann Emery
Julie Ann Emery has been one of my favorite actresses since she was the best thing about an amazing but sadly overlooked ABC series called Line of Fire
. She played Jennifer Sampson, an FBI agent who was both a strong professional and devoted wife and mother, without lapsing into cliches or having to be tarted up for TV. Julie Ann hit every note that Jennifer had to go through so well, whether it was being tough on the job or worrying about the fate of her daughter. To this day, if you gave me carte blanche
to pick a female lead for my TV series, she would be my call.
You probably don't know her name, but you've had plenty of chances to see her face. Since the end of Line of Fire
, she's appeared in the film Hitch
with Will Smith and Eva Mendes, ABC's Commander in Chief
(also created by Rod Lurie, who was responsible for Line of Fire
and most recently, as Vanessa, the private investigator and old friend of Harvey Specter's on Suits
. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that Suits
creator Aaron Korsh (more on him later) will bring her back in season two, because she deserves it.
Julie Ann's lightbulb moment happened in high school, when she was cast against type as Rizzo in her school's production of Grease
. The role "really required me to step into someone else's shoes and I was hooked," she explained in a recent chat. "There was a moment on stage where I realized that the audience was with me in the moment."
After a significant role in Steven Spielberg's ambitious miniseries Taken
as Amelia Keys, she joined Line of Fire
the following year, alongside the likes of Leslie Hope (24, The River
), Leslie Bibb (Iron Man
) and David Paymer (State and Main
). "I could play that character for ten years and never get bored," she said of her leading role as Jennifer. "That was my favorite character I've ever played. I got to do things you just don't get to do on television."
As for where Jennifer might have ended up (the series ended on a cliffhanger), "I don't know where they were going overall, but there were big, big plans and I'm so, so heartbroken that show did not survive. All those people are living in Rod Lurie's head somewhere," she said, taking a moment to express her pride at being part of such a well-written series that sadly has not seen DVD or VOD (that's up to the studio, so get word to ABC!). About all that's publicly available is the show's opening titles
In addition to being a talented actress, Julie Ann is also working extensively behind the camera as well. She's the creator and one of the stars of the web series Then We Got Help
and is currently working on the sci-fi series Drifter
, about which she's in talks right now with studios and production companies.
How did she become a multi-hyphenate? "It was something always sort of in the plan for me as I moved forward, but I wasn't sure how. My very first manager, I told her that I wanted to have more say about what was being put out there in the world," she explained. "[On] Line of Fire
, I don't like to sit in my trailer, so I spent my downtime on set generally behind the monitor and talking to the camera crew, and I would take my lunch break in the editing bay. The producers started talking to me pretty early on about taking a directing path.
"I think the writing took me by surprise. I wasn't sure I could do it," she continued. "I've worked with some really brilliant writers and directors and editors, and every step of the way with When We Got Help
, I sent out my script for notes. I reached out as much as I could, and that took a lot of guts. I think I'm still surprised by it." She's a walking example of the value of hard work and of learning from those around you.
I couldn't resist asking Julie Ann if we'd see Vanessa make a return to Suits
this season, after she appeared in the pilot episode as well as "Undefeated" later on. "They left that door open last season, and certainly spoke to me about it, but I have not been approached this season," she told me. "I hope that I come back. I'm a fan of the show, I really love the character and I love working with Gabriel [Macht] so much. We have such great chemistry and he's such a nice guy."
There's certainly some backstory between Vanessa and Harvey that we don't know - but even the actors don't have all the answers. "Gabriel and I talked a little bit about our history on the day that we were shooting," she continued. "There's still so much going on between them, and I think that's because Gabriel was very open to talking like that. It's also so intriguing that you don't know everything."
Even if she doesn't come back to Suits
, Julie Ann has such a wide range of TV credits that there's plenty for you to discover her in. "I've been lucky enough to not be pigeonholed, which is maybe why I'm not as recognizable," she said. "I played this recurring role on The Riches
that is so the opposite of Jennifer Sampson in every possible way, but I loved it. I loved my role in Commander in Chief
is on TV all the time. I did this episode, that I don't think ever aired, of a show called The Inside
where I played a serial killer. I did an episode of Dexter
where I'm either crying or having breakdowns the whole episode. I have a sort of wide range."
So what's she looking for next? "I want to play Jennifer Sampson again. I have a secret desire to be Holly Hunter in Broadcast News
; I want to play a hardcore journalist," she said, but more than a specific role, the one thing she's really looking for is good writing: "If the writing's not there, it doesn't matter."
And as for long-term goals, "I hope that I'm moving in a direction where I can maintain my acting career and maintain being a filmmaker."
Whether it's behind the camera or in front of it, I'm just glad to know she's out there working. No matter how small the part, I've always found her to be memorable on-screen, and will continue to hope that someone else snaps her up as a series regular so I can enjoy her work on a weekly basis. This is one talented and hard-working woman who deserves much more attention than she gets.
You can find Julie Ann on Twitter (@julieannemery
) and also on her Facebook fan page
.The Comic Genius of Adam Ferrara
There are many stand-up comedians who are also capable actors, but the best among them is my pal Adam Ferrara. You might know him as Chief "Needles" Nelson on FX's Rescue Me
, or currently as one of the hosts of History's Top Gear
. I know him as the funniest person that I've ever been around.
What makes him so funny? For one, he's terribly smart. His comedy isn't just setup and punchline. He's telling a story with every segment, and he really tells it: he's the king of great facial expressions to go with his confusion, frustration, or complete rage. It's the kind of comedy that makes sense, too - not only is it funny, but the lightbulb comes on over my head and I think, "You know, he has a point."
And where some comedians seem almost confined to their material, Adam is just as funny offstage, too, whether it's on Twitter or in person. He can find humor in pretty much everything. My parents think he's hilarious, and my parents haven't found anything funny since Fawlty Towers
went off the air in 1979.
That sense of humor is one of the many reasons Adam is just a wonderful person to be around. His humor isn't mean-spirited or crude, and he's laughing at himself just as much as he is at the world. I would call him one of my closest friends, and that's because when things have been tough for me, he's been there to put a smile on my face - and also to give me advice and encouragement to get me through. I'm lucky to have such a great friend...who is also the funniest person I know.
Here's a clip from Adam's DVD Funny as Hell
to entertain you.
You can pick up the full DVD by using this link
and if you're not already, you should be following Adam on Twitter (@adamferrara
). You can also visit his official website, AdamFerrara.com
TV Writers Who Need To Be Loved More
We all have our favorite TV shows, but unless you're a superfan, you might not be able to say who wrote those programs you can't wait to watch. The truth is, without good writing, those great shows wouldn't exist. Here's my short list of writers who make me run to the TV every time I see their name pop up on the screen.Aaron Sorkin.
Without Sorkin's Sports Night
, I wouldn't be writing this column right now. I'd be a lawyer. For that alone, he'll always be one of my favorite writers. But everything he's written - A Few Good Men, Sports Night, The West Wing, Charlie Wilson's War, The Social Network
, even the less well-received Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
- is so unique and so alive. Count me as one of the people who's waiting eagerly for The Newsroom
to arrive on HBO in June.
As the creator of The Shield
, Ryan's already got plenty of clout in the TV world. But I'm always going to associate him with two shows I loved: The Unit
and one of my all-time favorite series, The Chicago Code
. Particularly in the latter, his characters were so well-developed and so richly layered that they felt like real people to me and I found myself yelling at the TV like they could hear me. My most anticipated new series is Last Resort
, where I get to enjoy Ryan writing for Robert Patrick and Andre Braugher.
I absolutely loved The Wire
, but before that, Homicide: Life on the Street
was the favorite show of my youth (which might explain a lot about my childhood, now that I think about it). We also can't forget The Corner
. Simon has a real knack for digging into cities, communities and cultures, and making us understand them, no matter how far removed from them we may be. I love that the shows he wrote are still making us talk about real life issues.
Emilia di Girolamo (and the entire Law & Order: UK writing staff).
If you haven't seen the British incarnation of Law & Order
, you've really missed out. It's not just a repackaging of the original show - not by a longshot. Emilia and her team (and here I have to give a special shoutout to the talented Terry Cafolla, who wrote some of the show's best episodes) took the source material and made it distinct for their culture and characters. A lot of the time, the UK episodes were better
than their US counterparts. That's talent.
Yes, I may run this into the ground, but The Unusuals
is one of the best series ever made, and you're not going to convince me otherwise. Truly some of the most unique characters I've seen on television.Blake Masters.
Before Showtime became known for its original series, one of its first was a relatively undiscovered gem called Brotherhood
. It had an amazing cast, led by Jason Clarke and Jason Isaacs (Awake
) - and they had amazingly smart, complex material thanks to Masters, who got the best out of all his actors by challenging them at every turn. This is one of only three shows where I've been in trouble for writing too much about each episode (the other two being Shawn Ryan's The Chicago Code
I can't wait to see what season two of Suits
brings. The show might have taken some time to catch on with me, but once I clicked in, I saw how incredibly smart and full of heart it was underneath the snappy dialogue. It's got all the look and charm of a summer series but so much more substance. And Korsh gets bonus points for having two of the smartest actors on television leading his show (Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams) and giving them material equal to their amazing talents. There's nothing more frustrating than good actors being let down by bad writing, and that is not a problem with Suits
. Not even close.Before I Go...
Some great breaking news this morning via TV Guide
: Robert Patrick has been promoted to series regular on ABC's Last Resort
. The very first image from entertainment in my life was Patrick as the T-1000 in 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day
, and I've been a fan ever since. He's a wonderful, hardworking and truly versatile actor who, as previously mentioned in this blog
, should be great re-teaming with Shawn Ryan and acting opposite Andre Braugher.
He's also a really sweet person. I finally got to meet him last October at a book event, and I have to say that while I imagined meeting him a lot of times over the past two decades, when it actually happened it was even better than I ever expected. The hour or so my friends and I got to chat with him I'm going to hold onto the rest of my life. He is a class act who deserves all the success in the world and this role has the potential to be something great for him. Congratulations, Robert!For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my BuddyTV writer page, and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.
Images courtesy of SuperiorPics and USA