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Courtney Thorne- Smith
Currently starring as the beautiful wife "Cheryl" on ABC's comedy series"According To Jim". Thorne-Smith realized her love of acting in her kindergarten production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She was discovered in high school when 20th Century Fox was searching for a new face to play Charlie Sheen's girlfriend in their feature film Lucas. Soon after, she cancelled her plans to attend Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, moved to Los Angeles, and hasn't looked back since. Her combination of talent and beauty has enabled her to build a long acting resume. In addition to Lucas, her film credits include featured roles in Summer School, Revenge of the Nerds II, Side Out, and Chairman of the Board. She has also starred in several theatrical productions, including Masking, Rainbow, Don't Be Cruel, and Sincerely Confused. But it is her substantial work on television that has given Thorne-Smith her most notable recognition. She played Alison Parker for five seasons on Melrose Place, starred in the short-lived series Day By Day, and had a recurring role as Harry Hamlin's "Laker Girl" girlfriend on the hit series L.A. Law. She has also appeared in the series Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Anything But Love, and the television films Beauty's Revenge, Tour of Duty, First Flight, and Infidelity. She also guest starred as the the object of Norm Macdonald's desire on Norm. Recently she has also donned the hat of professional writer. Having started with a feature article in SELF Magazine, she is now a contributing editor for that that publication and has also written for InStyle and for Allure Magazine.
Courtney Thorne-Smith, the child of a computer market researcher and a therapist, was born on November 8, 1967 in San Fransisco. She and her older sister Jennifer grew up in the Bay Area. Courtney's parents divorced when she was seven, and she later went to live with her dad where she didn't fit in at her new school. For Courtney's last two years of high-school she lived with her mother in Mill Valley (a San Fransisco suburb). Originally, she was named Courtney Thorne Smith (Thorne being her mom's maiden name and Smith being her father' s name), but when she joined the Screen Actors Guild she changed it to Thorne-Smith to honor both families.
Courtney began her acting career in kindergarten, performing in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (she played Dopey). Her professional training began in her last year of high- school at Mill Valley's Ensemble Theater Company. Courtney starred in several plays. One of the plays was about cruelty to animals, and that made Courtney decide to never eat meat again. Her real showbiz break came when 20th Century-Fox discovered her while holding a casting call at her school, Tamalpais High, for a Charlie Sheen movie called Lucas - just as Courtney was planning to attend Allegheny College in Pennsylvania.
Courtney got the part, and she and her sister moved to L.A. (bye bye Allegheny). She appeared in lots of movies, her first movie (Welcome to 18) being her worst acting experience ever, and her second movie (Lucas) being her greatest movie experience.
Being really shy, acting was a way to get attention, but by the time Courtney was 19 she was in therapy trying to deal with shattered expectations. "What happened is that all of my dreams came true, and it didn't fix anything. I was still scared, and still sad. You need the same things to make you truly happy and fulfilled when you're famous as you do when you're not, but they're more difficult to find, because you forget to look."
One of Courtney's first TV gigs was a recurring role on L.A. Law, playing Harry Hamlin's "Laker Girl" girlfriend. "I was told she was an inspiring actress. Then, the first day, I walk into the wardrobe, and there's this tiny leotard. 'Oh', they told me, 'she's a Laker Girl.' I had no idea, but there I was."
Courtney's first regular role on a TV series was in Fast Times. The series lasted about six weeks, from March 5, 1986 to April 23, 1986. After that, Courtney starred in the Mark Harmon epic Summer School, the movie Revenge of the Nerds II, the TV movie Infidelity, the sitcom Day By Day, and the romantic film Side Out.
Courtney got her first big break in 1992, playing the tormented Alison Parker on Melrose Place. She managed to maintain some self-respect in a show where the writing wasn't really... well, ya know. "On Melrose nobody thought we got the joke! They would look at us sadly. On Melrose you'd say 'I can't believe you killed my lover! I'm moving upstairs!' It was so funny. Daphne Zuniga and I would start scenes, and we'd go, 'OK, wait: Are we friends? Did I just make you lose your baby? Did you just steal my boyfriend?' We weren't kidding; we'd have to figure it out."
Courtney had a both on-and-off screen romance with Andrew Shue (Billy), but Melrose Place's cutest couple split after a year. "We were two nice kids under this incredible stress. I don't know if I could have gotten through it without him. We had a light, fun, sweet relationship. We'll always have a close bond." (Hmmm, that might be true, but where was Andrew on Courtney's wedding day? She did go to HIS wedding...)
Towards the end of her days on Melrose Place, Courtney got great reviews for the TV movie Beauty's Revenge aka Midwest Obsession. Courtney played a psychotic midwestern beauty queen who killed a girl (played by Tracy Gold) in order to be with Gold's character's boyfriend.
When Courtney left a five-year long run on Melrose Place (Alison had turned into a dead-end character, and Melrose Place had turned into a show full of over-the-top silliness), her plan was to take a year off. But she agreed to do David E. Kelley's hourlong show Ally McBeal instead. She got to play Ally's co-worker Georgia Thomas, the smart and sexy lawyer who was married to Ally's only true love: a guy named Billy (call it deja-vu). Once again, she found herself playing 'normal' in a room full of wacko's.
"I get treated differently, which is interesting. With Ally, women treat me almost like a peer, like they relate to Georgia quietly, like they seem to feel her pain. Whereas with Alison, people were yelling at me to get it together, with Georgia, there's just a ton of compassion. Whatever show I'm on, people are mad at Billy."
Her character was created to be in the first season only, but since Courtney was so great (yeah, yeah, yeah) her stay stretched into a three-season one. May 2000, Courtney finally left the show. Her character had (once again !!!) reached a dead-end.
In 1999 Courtney became the newest spokeswoman for Almay cosmetics, being the face of their new line of make-up 'Skin Stays Clean'. "I do nothing but yammer at my friends about how they have to try it. Luckily Almay sends me big boxes of stuff so I can hand it all out. I'm very popular all of a sudden among all my friends." Courtney also had two feature films coming out that year: Venus Conspiracy and Chairman of the Board.
On June 2, 2000 Courtney married her boyfriend of three-years (and fiancé of ten-months), genetic scientist Dr. Andrew Conrad (another Andy, life is full of surprises). Their top-secret five-day wedding extravaganza took place on the Hawaiian island of Lanai. The couple was determined to keep their wedding secret, they even cooked up a cover story that they weren't really going to marry until October (and People magazine bought it!). They flew in fifty close friends and family-members for a vacation which included sightseeing, sailing trips, yoga classes and special dinners. A local minister performed the ceremony on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Courtney and Andrew wrote their own vows. Courtney said: "I love Andrew more than anyone else in the world. I want to grow old with him". The couple delayed their honeymoon due to hectic work schedules.
Courtney met the man of her dreams after a dinner party arranged by her sister and brother-in-law, after she'd sworn to never (ever) go on a blind-date. "As an actress, a blind date isn't reality. It isn't blind for them. It's blind for me. It's not fair. And my brother-in-law, who is so uninvested in anything romantic, wanted to set me up, and only for him would I do it. Because it was just so odd that he would be trying at all."
Anyway, it turns out that Andrew got rained in, and couldn't make it, but his best friend talked about him for hours. By the end of the dinner, Courtney agreed to give up her phone number. She and Andrew talked on the phone for two weeks before actually meeting. By that time Courtney was totally in love. "I thought, 'What monster could open the door that would make this fall apart?' But he opened the door and he was Andy. The only problem is that he looks too much like me. I've always dated my physical opposite, and I prided myself on that. But Andy looks like me. We're just going to have big white-haired kids with great big jaws."
Hubby Andrew Conrad grew up in Malibu, and since he has many actor friends (his best friend is Rob Estes), Courtney now spends more time with actors from Melrose Place than she did when she was working on the show. But most of Courtney's life and friends are outside the business. "With my close friends, we talk about reading, therapy yoga, chick stuff. It isn't about work."
Then there's still this little ongoing debate about Courtney's last name. "It's so long, isn't it? Thorne-Smith-Conrad. I think it's romantic to take Andy's name, but Courtney Conrad is a little perky. And he calls me Corky. No one can ever call me Corky Conrad. I just can't go there. But I think Smith-Conrad is a really beautiful name."
Courtney is now being courted for her own sitcom series for next fall, but she will also re-occur in Ally McBeal's fourth season. Courtney is a huuuuge dog-lover. She and husband Andrew Conrad, Director of Research and Development of the National Genetics Institute in Los Angeles, have a beachhouse in Malibu, which they share with "about 500 pounds of dogs": Ed and George (hers) and Max and Buzz (his). The couple recently purchased a plot of land for around $1 million overlooking the Challenge golf course on Lanai. "We want to build someplace really comfortable, someplace that has enough rooms for family and friends. That, is the plan."
Courtney Thorne-Smith is a bride in June and a divorsee in January
Even in Hollywood, where celebrity marriages, like sitcoms, tend to last only a few seasons, this one had a stunningly short run. On Jan. 3, just seven months after staging a spur-of-the-moment wedding on the Hawaiian island of Lanai, actress Courtney Thorne-Smith announced that she and her husband, genetic scientist Andrew Conrad, have "mutually decided to separate," adding that no third parties were involved. Friends who had witnessed the three-year courtship of the former Ally McBeal star and her beau were all but speechless. "To be honest," says one intimate, "I am as confused as the next guy."
Also taken by surprise were the editors of IN STYLE WEDDINGS (a sister publication to PEOPLE), which had hit the newsstands a week earlier with Thorne-Smith, 33, on the cover in her bridal gown. Still, says the magazine's managing editor Martha Nelson, "Whatever we're going through, it is not as bad as whatever she is going through."
Though Conrad, 37, and his wife's former Melrose Place co-star Rob Estes were high school friends, Conrad and Thorne-Smith didn't meet until 1997, when her sister Jennifer fixed them up. They became engaged in October 1998, but their June 1 wedding was so impromptu that they hadn't even procured a marriage license. Now, no one knows what will become of the $1 million-plus lot that they bought in Lanai, where they planned to build their dream house.
Baby battle wrecks Courtney's marriage
Courtney Thorne-Smith's "fairy-tale" marriage to a dashing scientist blew sky-high after only seven months because he refused to father the baby she desperately wants, The ENQUIRER has learned.
Last year we broke the news that the 33-year-old actress -- who played Georgia Thomas for three seasons -- tied the knot on June 2 with genetic researcher Andrew Conrad. Now just months later, she's dumped him and moved out of their Malibu home a couple of weeks ago.
With her marriage in tatters, the stunning star has moved back into her premarriage Brentwood Hills home which she'd never sold, and the ex-"Melrose Place" actress is regularly attending AA meetings to help with her addiction to booze. It's a weird tale -- even by Hollywood standards!
"Courtney made it clear from the beginning that she wanted a baby, and Andrew kept saying all in good time," a close friend told The ENQUIRER. "But a few months after they were married, she began to force the issue -- and Andrew flatly said he didn't want children. Courtney hit the roof."
The problem was magnified by the fact that Courtney is a deeply religious, spiritual person while her husband is a matter-of-fact scientist and an atheist, said the friend.
And the talented actress has also complained that Andrew is a tightwad who "rarely reached for his wallet." The AA support group helped open her eyes -- convincing her that she and Andrew are on two different paths in life, says her friend.
Adding to her embarrassment, a national magazine that's not on top of the news like The ENQUIRER just hit the stands with an issue featuring her wedding! InStyle magazine couldn't be more out of date. It spotlights a six-page spread focusing on Courtney's nuptials in an issue about storybook weddings!
Added another source close to the couple: "The dissolution of Courtney's marriage to Andrew has been an intense blow to her. "She so desperately wanted to have children with him -- at one point, she even talked about building a nursery in their Malibu home. "When he finally admitted to her that he didn't want kids, it was devastating. As Courtney put it to a pal, 'It was like a knife through my heart.' "She said she realized they could never go on as a couple."
Courthey Thorne-Smith's wedding magic
On October 23, 1998, Andy, my then boyfriend, proposed marriage to me. I accepted happily. As far as I was concerned, this was a done deal. My friends and family, however, had a different idea: They, apparently, expected a wedding.
I have nothing against weddings, In fact, I love to go to them. I love the flowers and the folding chairs covered in silk. I love the carefully wrapped little bundles of Jordan almonds and the matchbooks printed with the couple's names and wedding date. I find the ceremonies touching, and I am always amazed at how many meals are served and eaten without incident, and that there is almost alwaya a vegetarian option - how thoughtful! No, it is not weddinggs themselves that frighten me. It was the idea of planning a wedding that caused my entire body to shut down and my brain to go into full-fledged denial.
I was allowed approximately one day of basking in the simple joy of being engaged before the interrogations started. "Oh, you got engaged! That's great...." people would say, and before I could get out a thank-you, they moved in for the kill. "Have you set a date? Where are you getting married? Are you going to have a big wedding? You know, you really have to book a year in advance. Are you going to have a band?" A band? I didn't even have my engagement ring properly sized yet.
I will readily admit to doing the giddy new-bride-to-be thing of rushing out to buy an assortment of bridal magazines. I loved looking at the pictures of other people's weddings as much as I liked going to them, and I marveled at the gorgeous gowns. The articles on planning, however, led to fear-induced illiteracy. I simply couldn't face the "1001 things to do before the big day" or "52 important things to remember in the 52 weeks before the wedding day." I read bridal magazines in the same way I had when I was 10 years old: as if I were enjoying a fairy tale that really had very little to do with me personally.
I started to answer people's queries by saying, "I am just hoping if I wait long enough, someone else will plan it for us." People laughed. I was serious.
Andy, a genetic scientist, had always wanted a very private ceremony anyway, so my apparent lack of interest in planning a traditional wedding was a relief. We both agreed that a private ceremony for the two of us followed by a party for our families was the way to go-you know, whenever we got around to it. Those around us, however, were not so relaxed. About II months into our engagement (just as Andy and I were really getting the hang of the whole engagement thing), the pressure about setting a date turned into worried questions like, "Is everything OK?" The checkout girl at our local Ralphs supermarket paused in the middle of scanning my prewashed organic greens to whisper, "It's OK, honey. It will happen." And one of my best girlfriends (who got engaged, set a date, and married during the course of my own protracted engagement) confided that she and her new husband had bet $100 on whether or not we would "go through with it" (she claims to have put her money on "yes" -I'm still not quite convinced).
Finally my sister, Jennifer, who was responsible for getting Andy and me together in the first place three years earlier, completely lost her cool and sat us down in front of a computer to look for a party location. We were still determined to have a private ceremony, but the idea of having friends and family in an exotic locale for a four-day party held a lot of appeal.
My sister had so traumatized Andy with predictions of "hotels selling out completely, many years in advance" that he came home the next night and announced that he had booked 20 rooms at the Manele Bay Hotel on the Hawaiian island of Lanai beginning May 31, 2000. That gave me more than six months to plan our post-wedding celebration. Excellent, I thought, and promptly returned to my busy schedule of procrastination and denial.
Because our guest list was made up of family and a few very close friends, we invited people in person or with "save these dates for a trip to Hawaii" phone calls. We explained that we would arrive in Hawaii "premarried" (our plan was to go to Las Vegas for a quick ceremony beforehand), so it was really just a four-day reception and a chance for our families and friends to meet and play. We would have one formal dinner, but other than that, it would be casual and relaxed. Unfortunately, I still underestimated my capacity for procrastination.
As the date drew closer and our work schedules remained demanding, we found we were no closer to tying the knot. Luckily my sister, girlfriends and my assistant realized that a four-day party-wedding or no wedding-would take some planning. My assistant, Stephanie, sat me down with menu options and forced me to call Cindy Robison, the brilliant and relaxed event planner at Manele Bay, to decide where and when we would eat. My sister and my friend Missy walked me through creating memos for for the guests (the time for elegant engraved invitations had long passed at this point, and our guests were starting to annoy me with questions about silly little details such as plane reservations and exact dates), and my girlfriend Rya got me into a dress shop by bribing me with lunch at a nearby restaurant. Now I just had to get married. Oops.
I was very busy at work, then Andy was very busy at work, and before we knew it, six months had passed, and it was time for me to leave for Hawaii to enjoy a few days of rest and relaxation with my mom and my sister before our guests arrived. Never mind that we hadn't actually gotten married yet. Andy and I had convinced ourselves that the fact the we "felt" married was enough (we have a slightly exaggerated sense of our own power), but some of our friends weren't buying it. "So," our friend Pete asked one day, "are you guys going to officially announce that you are going steady?" That was looking more and more like the plan. Luckily, when you invite people to Hawaii for a four-day party, they don't worry about such details as why; they are generally more interested in when.
Something happened to me when I got to Hawaii, however. I don't know if it was beauty of the island, the intoxicating scent of the air on Lanai, or if I was just finally able to relax enough to allow the reality of how much I wanted to marry Andy to hit me, but suddenly I realized that many of the people I love most in the world would be in one place for four days-and I wanted to share my wedding day with them. The only problem? My year and a half of available wedding-planning time was now down to two days. It was time to make some calls. First I phoned Andy, who was still working hard back in Los Angeles. Brilliant man that he is, he said, "Whatever you want to do, honey." Then he asked, "Do I have to wear a suit?" "Yes," I answered, "and I have to go plan a wedding." The next call was to Cindy Robison. "Cindy, this may be crazy, but do you think it would be possible for us to have a wedding ceremony this week?" "When?" she asked, unfazed. "Well," I continued, "the formal dinner is on Thursday night at 7:30, so I was thinking maybe 6:30-ish?" "I don't see why not," she said, as if I were asking for soup instead of salad. "Let me call the minister and get back to you."
Like magic, things started to fall into place. The minister just happened to be performing a ceremony on the island at 5:30 on Thursday night, and he could make it to our location by 6:15. The local general store happened to have a silver ring in Andy's size (which was lucky, because our other option was an adjustable toe ring from the hotel gift shop). My assistant set up appointments with a florist and pastry chef. My sister took me to get a manicure and a pedicure. "What can I do to help?" my mother asked me daily. "I don't know," I would respond. "What needs to be done?"
At our welcoming dinner on Wednesday, May 31, when we announced that there would actually be a wedding ceremony the next day, many of our guests said, "I knew it." How did they know? I didn't know myself until Tuesday afternoon!
On Thursday afternoon I wandered in a daze down to my massage. (Note to brides: The massage table face cradle leaves telltale marks on your forehead. Be sure to end on your back). Our room was deemed "chick central," and my mom, sister and girlfriends all came up to get ready there. My friend [actress Lisa Rinna] graciously offered to help guests with makeup and set up shop on the dining room table. I did my own makeup and prayed for a good hair day. After friends tied me into my dress and gave me a flower-covered headband to wear, we were on our way out the door.
Somehow the pictures got done and everyone made it onto the shuttle to the Lodge at Koele, where the ceremony was to be held. Because we had had no rehearsal, we now had no choice but to improvise. Andy grabbed his brother and his friend Harry (who, because he had no idea he would be standing up at a wedding, was resplendent in bright white tennis shoes), along with my sister and my best friend, and headed for the altar, while I grabbed my parents and my niece, Cassidy, and went the other way. Then we froze. What next? Luckily, I was awakened from my daze by the sound of our friends humming a very out-of-tune (and very beautiful) rendition of "Here Comes the Bride." Unfortunately, the singing seemed to frighten Cassidy (3-year-old ears are so sensitive), and she faltered in her already slow, weaving walk down the aisle. Just as we were beginning to fear she might not make it, she spotted my sister and broke into a relieved, happy run. Now it was my turn. Somehow I also made it down the aisle, kissed each of my still-stunned parents and walked up to stand next to Andy.
Having just met the minister five minutes before, we were both a little nervous. We needn't have worried. The ceremony was lovely and, unless the bit he spoke in Hawaiian held some secret pact we don't know about, wonderfully traditional. When the minister announced us as "Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Conrad," and we turned around and saw so many happy (relieved?) faces, I knew we had done the right thing by getting married in front of our loved ones.
With the help of our friends, the reception flew by in a haze of love and laughter. The toasts (my father's began with, "I have the interesting task of giving the toast at my daughter's wedding, to which I didn't know I would be going"), the first dance (because we had no band, I have my friend Mary to thank for starting all assembled on a warbling rendition of "Close to You," which I suppose is now our song-thanks, Mare) and the cutting of the delicious cake all went off without a hitch.
There is something to be said for lack of wedding preparation: It leads to lack of expectations, which in turn can lead to magic. I truly couldn't have done it alone, and I can honestly say that my wedding could not have been more perfect if I had planned it-which, as we now know, I did not.
Art of being Courtney Thorne-Smith
As an actress, I am often asked about the pressure I might feel "to look a certain way." There seems to be a misconception that I live in the world of Valley of the Dolls, where there are big, mean producers who hold me to very clear specifications about how much I am supposed to weigh and how many wrinkles I am allowed to have. In my experience, it is much more subtle and far less sinister than that. Being an actress is very much like being stuck in the sixth grade. Do you remember how, when you were 12, you felt that strangers were often looking at you and judging your hair, body, and skin, and how crazy and self-conscious that made you feel? Of course, as you matured, you realized that was just silly. No one was taking time out of their own busy lives to judge your appearance-unless, that is you grew up and chose to work as an actress.
Imagine this: You are an actress who works on a television show. You woke up this morning at 4 A.M. to shower and drive yourself 45 minutes to work. You are expected to be in the makeup trailer by 6 A.M., where you will spend an hour and 15 minutes in front of wall-to-wall mirrors, watching your puffy, sleep deprived face and tired, overworked hair get poked, prodded, and painted by a team of experts as they attempt to turn you into something the camera will love. You are more than vaguely aware of the makeup artist's knitted brow as she carefully mixes colors to cover what are apparently an extraordinary number of blemishes, discolorations, and general imperfections. You watch while she shades where you are too round and highlights where you are too shadowed. You try to look innocent and surprised when she points to a large red spot on your chin and says, "Did you pick at this?" in a tone that makes it clear that picking at your pimples is just a little bit worse than torturing puppies. You feel ashamed, knowing that somehow both the pimple and its raised, reddened aftermath are your fault.
When you are finished in hair and makeup, or rather, when they have finished with you, it is time to get dressed. You walk to your trailer and find an outfit hanging in your closet. You say a silent prayer that it will fit. You know that it was altered to fit your body a week ago, which means a week before your body began its monthly pre-period attack on your self-esteem. You squeeze into the pencil skirt and fitted blouse that looked so right last week, and gaze longingly at the drawstring pants you wore in that morning (happy pants, you call them). As you turn sideways in the mirror and try, unsuccessfully, to pull in your blouted, cranky tummy, you try to comfort yourself with the thought that no one else will notice; that, surely, you are the only one who cares what your tummy looks like. You are wrong. As you make your way to the set, nodding hello to the director and producers along the way, you are sidelined by the wardrobe stylist, who takes your arm and swiftly turns you around, walking you back the way you came. "Didn't we just fit this on you?" she asks, "Yes," you answer. "I'm just a little PMS-y right now, but...." "Well, the director doesn't like it. We're going to have to change you." You assume she means "change your clothes," but you can't be sure. She finds a pair of black pants and a sweater that fit and look slimming, and walks you back out to the set, where you stand in front of a group of tall canvas chairs, where the director and producers sit with cups of coffee and cheese-filled Danish in their hands as they discuss your outfit (body?). "OK, that will be fine," says the director, as the producers nod their agreement, and the costumer heads off to check on the other actors. The director then looks at you and says, "What's that on your chin?"
When it is time to shoot the scene, you walk with your fellow actors to the set. You try not to notice that your co-star's skirt, though a smaller size than your own, is big on her. You try again to suck in your stomach. And your thighs. After the hairstylist and makeup artist come over to "touch you up," it is time to shoot the scene. "Rolling!" calls the first assistant director. "Action!" calls the director. And you are on. You can feel that the scene, though a difficult one for you, is going well. After the director yells "Cut!" you and your fellow actors nod at each other in silent support and turn your attention back to the director, expecting him to say, "Print that, moving on! He doesn't.
Instead, you notice him whispering animatedly with the camera operator and pointing in your direction. Instead of "Print!" he yells "Makeup!" and you watch as your makeup artist comes over and joins their heated discussion. There is much head-shaking and shoulder-shrugging as they look from you to the television monitor and back. Finally, your makeup artist heaves her heavy bag onto her shoulder, and they all walk toward you. The 100-person crew, tired from a week of 14-hour days, watches impatiently as the three of them-the director, the camera operator, and the makeup artist-make their way over. The director holds your chin in one hand as he turns your head, tilting your face awkwardly for the other two to see where your blemish catches the light and, presumably, ruins his shot. More makeup is applied, lights and grip stands are moved around, and you run the scene again. It doesn't go as well. For you, it is now a scene about a pimple.
When the scene is done, you are through for the day. You decide to go to the mall. As you enter the department store, a woman you have never met before calls you by your name and holds you in place by your upper arm. "Oh, my God," she yells. "I can't believe it's you. I love you! You are you, aren't you?" You nod and smile; after all, she just told you she loves you. "I swear," she continues, "you are so much smaller than I thought you were! You just look so much bigger on TV! So I guess it really is true about TV putting on weight, huh?" "Yeah, it is" you barely manage to choke out, realizing that, although this woman thinks you look slim, millions of television viewers think you are a tank. You head for the loungewear sections; you need more happy pants. Fast.
You pick out three pairs of cotton drawstring pants and head toward the cash register. When you hand the sales-woman your credit card, she looks up with a conspiratorial grin on her face. "I thought that was you," she says. "Did you just get a haircut?" You smile and run a self-conscious hand through your newly shorn locks. "Yes, I did," you say. "I thought so," she says, handing you your bag. "I liked it better the other way, didn't you?" You suddenly realize that you did, and that it will take approximately a year and a half before you and the salesgirl are again happy with your hair.
You return home to find a manila envelope on your doorstep, and you open it to discover a script and a note from your agent. You have an audition tomorrow afternoon-you and your pimple. You read the cast list and the script and learn that the character you are being asked to read for is ten years younger than you, and you know that, in spite of painful power peels and expensive eye creams, you look every one of your 32 years. Which, before you were asked to pretend that you were 22 years old, felt like a perfectly good age. You call your agent. "This character is ten years younger than I am. I can't play a girl in her early 20s," you say, secretly hoping he will tell you that you are wrong and that, in fact, he had assumed you were still too young to buy a legal cocktail. He doesn't. "Oh, I know that," he says. "And so do the producers, and so does the director. Everyone is quite aware of your age, believe me!" All right, you think. Got it. Point made. "But they want to see you anyway." Great, you think, facetiously. "Great!" you say, heartily. "Thank you."
As you work on the script, you attempt to sound comfortable saying "cool-o-rama" and referring to your vagina as a "yoni-monster" and a penis as a "cock-a-doodle-doo." by the following morning, you are feeling "fierce" and "smokin" enough to believe you may actually have a shot at this role. You work your way into your new low-slung Earl jeans (stretch, thank God) and go to your audition.
It went well, you think, when you are done. They laughed at the right moments, and you were able to say "yoni-monster" with a modicum of comfort, grace, and even youthful enthusiasm. This could work, you think, as you consider what you will wear to the premiere. You call your agent for feedback. "They think you're too old," he says. "Thank you," you say, and consider a career as a writer.
The Skinny on Courtney Thorne-Smith
Her name is Courtney Thorne-Smith, and she has an eating disorder. The former star of Ally McBeal tells US Weekly that the pressure to be thin ultimately led her to quit the Fox dramedy.
"I started undereating, overexercising, pushing myself too hard and brutalizing my immune system," the 33-year-old actress says. "The amount of time I spent thinking about food and being upset about my body was insane."
Thorne-Smith, who reprised her Ally role as attorney Georgia Thomas on the show's season premiere, said the breaking point came last year when she learned she would have to do a nude scene. "I ate fruit all week just to try to be really lean by Friday," the ex-Melrose Place heroine recalls of the May 18, 1999 Ally episode. "I remember Gil [Bellows, who played her hubby, Billy] said, 'You look good,' and I was like, 'I'd better. I haven't had a piece of chicken in five days.' There was something terribly wrong with that."
Since leaving Ally at the end of last season, Thorne-Smith who won't rule out making more guest appearances in the future has regained about 10-15 pounds, not to mention control of her life. Still, body image issues continue to weigh heavily on her mind.
"To be totally honest, if I could be thinner without it causing a lot of pain and anxiety in my life, I would be," says Thorne-Smith, who last June wed genetic scientist Andrew Conrad. "But today the reality is my life is more important to me than my weight and thank God for that."
Courtney Thorne-Smith battles Ally McBeal's curse
According to tabloid The Star, for years, former Ally McBeal star Courtney Thorne-Smith struggled to attain and maintain a stick-thin figure. But today, she's happier, not to mention healthier, at a more appropriate weight.
Starring on Melrose Place and Ally, Thorne-Smith says it was tough being filmed next to extraordinarily tiny female co-stars, like Ally star Calista Flockhart, who constantly denies reports that her waifish appearance is the result of an eating disorder.
But despite Flockhart's denials, reports focusing on her and her skinny co-stars have even mentioned an Ally McBeal curse.
"There were only so many times strangers could say to me: 'Oh, my Gawd, you look much bigger on TV!' before I became obsessed with getting thinner," Thorne-Smith reveals.
The 5-foot-6, 115-pound actress starved herself, trying every fad diet on the market, to reach what she calls "the fantasy of my 'ideal weight.' "
Even though she was living on mostly fruits and salads and running five miles a day, Thorne-Smith upped her exercise by another three miles daily and started cutting back even more on her food.
"Did I lose weight?" she writes in an article in the new issue of Self magazine. "Yes, but unfortunately I also strained my immune system so severely that I came down with every cold and flu that got within 10 yards of me."
"For over a month, I felt exhausted and had very little appetite, but as sick and tired as I felt, I still got on the scale every day."
The actress says she lost more than 10 pounds, but the price she paid was too high. She felt listless.
But with the help of a therapist and a nutritionist, she pulled herself off the dangerous diet treadmill. She's finally happy with her body the way it is.
"There will always be those who criticize me, no matter what I look like," she explains.
"I can't win that fight, so my goal is to stop listening to them. After all, it's my own body I'm beating up -- and why would I want to do that?"
Courtney Thorne-Smith stars in the comedy ''According to Jim''
Courtney Thorne-Smith co-stars with James Belushi and Kimberly Williams this fall in the ABC comedy, "According to Jim."
On working in the half-hour format after many years on hourlong series such as "Melrose Place" and "Ally McBeal": "I started in a sitcom a bazillion years ago and I loved it. I loved the rehearsal process. I loved performing in front of the audience. I love that it's a job you can do as an actor and still have a life. I was ready to have a life again.
On what she did to prepare for the role of wife and mother: "Absolutely nothing."
On winning the part: "I went in Monday morning, met Jim (Belushi), read with Jim, had a great time. Went in Monday afternoon, got the job, was thrilled and delighted, then came home and said: 'They think I'm old enough to play a mother of three!?'"