Archive for May, 2009

May 19 2009

Rebecca Holden

Published by doc under Interviews

November, 2008, we attended another special event put on by Tommy and Kathy Hildreth.  Tommy was quick to tell us in advance he had a guest we would want to both meet and interview, Rebecca Holden. We were familiar with her work on Knight  Rider as well as appearances on such shows as Magnum P. I., Taxi, Night Court and Remington Steele.   It was only at the event that we found what an outstanding Christian she is, with a story that has to be told.  We had several conversations with her and her manager,  Kelly Fohner.  At the show she introduced  her latest CD,  Dare to Dream.   In the past she had already  recorded both  Gospel and Country albums.

Ed.:  The first thing I want to cover is based upon the first song you sang in your concert for the Western North Carolina Film Festival,  “Dare to Dream”.  That is also the title of your newly-released CD. The lyrics include the idea of everyone being a star and having a dream.  Does this have special significance for you?  We felt it did.

Rebecca:  It absolutely does, especially since that was one of the songs I wrote.  That comes from the heart when you write about what is important to you.  I think everyone is given gifts and abilities, certain unique qualities from God.  He instills those dreams. He places them there in your heart.  They are not there by accident.  I think He puts them there to motivate you, to use all those gifts and treasures within you to become who he created you to be.

Ed.:  We have noted how some singers have become actors and some actors have become singers.  What came first with you and what motivated you to go from one to the other?

Rebecca:  I never thought I would be an actress.  That never entered my mind.  I had a love of music from the time I was a little girl.  I had piano lessons from the time I was seven.  I studied piano all the way through school.  I won the  Paderewski Medal when I was in high school.  While playing piano for all the choirs in high school and college I discovered I loved singing.    I loved harmony and I sang in church choirs, school choirs and  in the madrigal singers.  You know when you find  something that you believe God meant for you to do.  It’s all I ever wanted to do; it’s where I live and breathe.  I still look forward all week to Sunday morning singing; singing for the Lord is the high spot of my week!

To get around to your question, I was in New York furthering my singing studies.  I studied privately with a teacher from Julliard.  An agent asked me to go on an audition for a Breck Shampoo commercial.   I was at first a little resistant to that as I thought, “I’m not a model, I’m a singer”.  He insisted that I go to the audition and Breck signed me to a series of television commercials.  Work begets work as you know.   That led to lots of other commercials, Dentyne, Kellogg and Ivory Soap etc. Then Aaron Spelling, the successful television producer  in Los Angeles, contacted my agent.  I went to the West Coast and started doing guest starring roles on a lot of the Spelling shows at Universal and Paramount.  I had done a lot of acting in school, but always in musicals.  Music was always the primary thing.  Then acting kind of took over.  I always sang at a lot of charity events and continued singing in church, but acting sort of took over to be the primary focus of my career.  I made a living at that, but singing always remained the biggest love of my life  and always has been.

I have to say that I am grateful for the acting roles. When you are on a national television series like a Knight Rider that is aired all over the world to over 150 countries, it gives you a platform from which to sing on tour and to carry the Gospel message as well.    I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the world, all through Europe and through the Far East.  I think God has a divine plan and we don’t always know how things are working  at the time.  Later on you look back and see certain paths and journeys that your life took, all the pieces come together and sort of make sense.  And you think, “Wow, I didn’t understand the direction my life was taking at the moment.”  It all makes sense after a while.

Ed.:  That’s great.  You don’t often hear that sort of thing being said.  That brings up another question that comes up with friends in the media.  Have you ever found your religious faith causing you a problem in getting roles?

Rebecca:  You’re exactly right.  I’m definitely in the fringe minority in Hollywood.  I listened to  an interview with Kirk Cameron about his Christian film Fireproof which I can’t wait to see.  He is a Christian himself and talked about being married to the same woman a long time, which is another rarity in Hollywood.  He has six children I think.  He was telling an anecdote, on a conservative talk radio show  which I listen to.  He told how he had breakfast with a director in Hollywood.  The director said, “Do you realize you have picked the only religion in Hollywood that is not acceptable.”  That is true in Hollywood as they will accept Buddhism, Scientology, etc.  A lot of people will say they are “spiritual” or they are into a sort of new age religion, but Christians seem to be in the minority.  Perhaps there are more Christians in the entertainment community than seems readily apparent; maybe Christians are intimidated regarding discussing their faith.  But I have never been shy about expressing what is in my heart.  It is possible, I suppose that it might affect the ability to get work, but I have never been one to hide my beliefs.   There’s that old song by Aaron Tippin  that says in paraphrase that,  “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” I am who I am.    Tammy Bruce wrote a book titled The Death of Right and Wrong, about the prevalence of moral relativism—that the lines between right and wrong in today’s culture have become gray.  There seems to be a tendency to denigrate anyone who lives their life by a more absolute moral code.

Ed.:  This probably accounts for the success of so many Christian movies being made today outside of Hollywood.  You have a major one coming out this year (2009) don’t you?

Rebecca:  I just completed filming the movie Book of Ruth, but I don’t know the release date.  The movie is an adaptation of The Book of Ruth from the Bible where powerful themes of tolerance and acceptance are gained through love and understanding.    I play the role of Beth.  Others in this movie include Dan Haggerty (Grizzly Adams), Gospel singer Carman and Lana Wood (kid sister of Natalie Wood).  This was filmed in Eureka Park in Arkansas, and we were able to use many of the sets from the Passion Play they do there.

Ed.: I know we have to get back a little bit to show business in this interview as this is something readers will be curious about.  It is  in regard to the original Knight Rider series.  How do you like the new Knight Rider series on TV today?

Rebecca:  I saw a little bit of the pilot, but haven’t had an opportunity to see the rest of the shows.  All I can say is what I have heard from a lot of the fans that they are a little disappointed in it, but I hope the ratings improve and that its audience grows.  I certainly hope this new version does well.   I read the other day that they are retooling it to go back to being more like the original.  I know Glen Larson, who was the original creator, was not involved in this one, but he has the rights and will be writing a feature film, and we’ve stayed in touch.

Ed.:  We’d love to see you in the film reprising your role as “April”.  We have read in TV Guide that the main criticism is that the original show was more family oriented and this one has not met that standard.  The second season of the original Knight Rider, in which you costarred,  has just been released on DVD.  People will be buying that and making comparisons.    Now an awful question.  In the series you are a computer guru, a computer genius.  We’re sure that show helped draw a lot of young people into the computer world.  Were you into computers then?

Rebecca:  That’s funny.    I wasn’t at the time.  It was all acting. Ha!  Being a music major in school I was not computer literate.  I would write everything in long hand and I did a lot of writing and still do.  Then, what really pushed me to have to learn about computers was when I was working on a musical.  All of our calls and rehearsal times were sent by the director by eMail.   I had to say to myself, “O.K. Rebecca, you have procrastinated long enough”.  Now I can’t imagine living without my laptop.  Writing on a computer is so much easier!  Technology is advancing so fast, and we become so accustomed to the “latest and greatest”, that we wonder how we ever survived without it.

Ed.:  Now would be a good time to mention your outstanding web page that we will want to point our readers to.  That’s     Your web page mentions certain groups that you have worked with that we’d like you to tell us about.

Rebecca:  I was president of the Music City Christian Fellowship which is a Christian organization in Nashville, Tennessee (as you may know, Nashville is nicknamed Music City).  I served on the board several years and was elected president two terms.  We do a Christian show every year during the CMA  Music Festival in June.  A lot of country music stars, who are Christians, are in the shows and I have hosted many of them.  I’ve also served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the Christian Country Music Awards and have done benefits for Toys for Tots, Feed the Children, Special Olympics and the Music in the Schools program.

Ed.:  We were also pleased to hear that you know one of our Advisory Board members, Rhonda Fleming.

Rebecca:  Oh, Rhonda is such a beautiful person, inwardly and outwardly.  I always admired her.  Rhonda attends some of the events that I do charity work for in Los Angeles and has been a strong supporter.    One is Thalians which just had their 53rd annual ball in which they honored Clint Eastwood.  Debbie Reynolds was a founder and is still the president.  The Thalians supports The Thalians Mental Health Center at Cedars Sinai and does cutting edge research for everything from Autism to Alzheimer’s—pediatrics to geriatrics.

Ed.:  We have really appreciated you taking time here at this event and we hope we can work together in the future.

Rebecca:   It has been such a pleasure to meet you and your lovely wife Carolyn.   I hope this is just the beginning of a long friendship.

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May 19 2009

Hollywood on Fire - Film Review

Published by doc under Movie Reviews

Recommended to all our readers:

Hollywood on Fire

The following is a special review on the DVD film mentioned in the Kerri Pomarolli review. The film is an excellent example of what we have been promoting since our beginnings.  Contrary to the image most popular in the secular media, there are Christians in Hollywood who continue to “keep the faith” and to “fight the good fight”.  They need our support and prayers.

Filled with honest openness, the film reveals the successes and failures of many of today’s and yesterday’s, top actors, directors, producers, music artists, executives and media-based ministries who are all faith driven.  Hollywood of Fire presents a different view of how Christians in the entertainment industry encounter secularists and Hollywood skeptics, yet do not compromise their faith.  Criticized, yet making progress, Hollywood on Fire shows that some of the most influential in Hollywood are Christians.

One of Hollywood’s faithful, actress-comedienne Kerri Pomarolli (covered in this issue) reveals her unique ability to make people laugh with an indisputable artistic quality.  Kerri is thrilled with the new and increasing interest Hollywood networks and studios are taking in  faith-based and family friendly content.

Along with Kerri in this film there are many others featured including Jane Russell, Pat Boone, Chuck Norris, Eric Close and Natalie Grant..  Kerri and husband Ron McGehee participate in the documentary as they discuss the importance of faith in making career decisions; and how being a Christian is not always popular with casting agents, producers, studios and networks.  Christians in  Hollywood are rallying and becoming major voices in making good movies with moral lessons. Jane Russell and Pat Boone have been interviewed by us in the past and Jane refers to the work she did with our own Rhonda Fleming and the late Connie Haines as a Gospel/Pop singing group and Bible study leaders.

Kerri says “I’m honored to be a part of such an impact project.  It gave me chills to sit and watch Jane Russell and other Christian forerunners in Hollywood share their stories of how God was always in this crazy and difficult town.”

The DVD was released early last March and Ye Olde Editor has since run it for several groups.  All were enthusiastic about the presentation and this will be a top contender in  our rating of best 2009 films.  Kerri, by the way, is already working on another DVD. This will be a pure comedy one and was a live performance for a charity to help raise money for “Gabelcrest, Helping Women Rebuild Lives.”  We’ll keep you posted.

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May 19 2009

Kerri Pomarolli

Published by doc under Interviews

In the past, the people we have interviewed have either been contacted in person or recommended by one of our readers.  God works in mysterious ways and this time it was the net.  The question has come up as to whether God has a sense of humor, something we ourselves do not doubt. So we went on a net search and discovered a young Christian comedienne, Kerri Pomarolli.  We were able to see some of her work on the net, and since have talked with Christian church leaders on the West Coast and here in Virginia. All consider her an outstanding Christian actress and author who uses comedy as her pulpit.  Very popular on TV, she has been on the Jay Leno show 29 times at the date of this writing.  Again through the net, we were put in direct contact.  Even before publication of this interview, we had heard from folks who would like to see her booked in their own churches and organizations.

Ed.:  What caused us to look you up was something we believed and apparently you do too-that God has a sense of humor.

Kerri:  That is so funny that you bring that up because, I just did a church conference that I really liked.  This pastor, who I love, got up and said, “God doesn’t have a sense of humor.  No where in the Bible does it say that God has a sense of humor.”  I was like “Are you kidding? Look at my life.  God invented marriage.  If you don’t think God has a sense of humor. Look around.  I think God has a great sense of humor.

I think he has the ultimate sense of humor.  When we laugh, it gives Him joy.”

Ed.:  People overlook Proverbs where a “merry heart” is considered vital.  We also read stories of Jesus where one may easily miss the humor in his statements.  At that time, some of his words may have been recognized by his followers as very humorous.

Kerri:  He had a very dry sense of humor.  I think Jesus had a very dry sense of humor. He did with his disciples.  We Christians get so caught up with  being righteous and doing things correctly that we miss God’s sense of humor.  I think as a Christian comedienne it is my job to point it out.  If you look around, life is pretty funny.

Ed.:  In one of your standup routines you talk about being from the South and about your mom.  And then when I read some of her work on the net,  she sounds like a very talented person herself.  How did that influence your work?

Kerri:  My mother is just a wealth of material.  People ask me where I get my jokes.  I love my jokes because my family is always doing silly things.  All I have to do is carry my notebook and write it down.  Everything in my act comes with some grain of truth.  When I talk about mother stealing the shampoo from Holiday Inn, that’s how we were raised.  We would go out to dinner and mom would get the ketchup package and put it in her purse.  I think it is life, God blessing me with a funny family.

Ed.:  When you went out to Hollywood it wasn’t to do comedy.

Kerri:  No, I got my degree in theater.  I spent some time in New York doing theater. Then I decided I wanted to try film and television.  At that time I was twenty two years old, and I was able to play the teenage roles.  Shows like Dawson’s Creek where they were hiring people in their twenties to play younger roles.   I had a nice little career for myself as an actress, and it wasn’t until I was about twenty seven or twenty eight that standup comedy came into my life.  I was feeling compromised as a Christian as an actress.  I felt if I could do standup comedy I could write my own clean material.

Ed.:  Prior to comedy you were already building quite a career as an actress.  You had recurring roles on General Hospital, Port Charles and Young and the Restless.  And numerous guest appearances.  And both before and now you have been active in films.  I read where you have a  lead in Engaged with Amanda Fuller and another very interesting one relating to your own work.

Kerri:  There are two as you say.  One is being released on DVD that can be found in stores like WalMart titled Hollywood on Fire.    That is a documentary that talks about Christianity through the years in Hollywood.    It is really amazing as people like Jane Russell the actress from the 1950’s is a Christian, and she is in it, and Pat Boone and some other people in the business. It is a really interesting look at faith in Hollywood. 

Ed.: Kerri, you really are a renaissance lady.  You have three books out and you are a columnist.

Kerri:  I love to write.  I think writing is very therapeutic for my soul.  I was just going to basically write about the trials and tribulations as a single woman who didn’t get married until her thirties, and I was feeling really alone.  I started writing my story and found there were a lot of singles out there who felt the same way.  It was just a way for me to speak to the hearts of other people.  I really think one of the gifts God has given me is a big mouth because when I go through stuff I can’t keep quiet about it.  When I put something on paper I like to tell what God is doing in my life.

Ed.:  One of the things we loved on the net was the surprise you had during one of your bits on stage.  That was when Ron McGehee came on stage, got on one knee and proposed. He had the ring ready for you.   We also saw an  interview when Ron mentioned that when witnessing to a doubter, he would pull out your picture to prove there is a God.

Kerri:  I never thought I’d marry a standup comedian, but God has a sense of humor for sure.  Two comedians getting married is quite an adventure.  We do our best as when God puts two people together it is for bigger purposes.  We have a partnership and a ministry and we just do the best we can.  We have the spiritual battles that a Christian couple will have from time to time but just have to keep our faith in God knowing that Satan will never win.

Ed.:  We have talked with a lot of people who have told stories of problems with having both a successful career and being a Christian.  You seemed to have been able to cope with that.

Kerri:  Well,  I haven’t had a lot of rejection from Hollywood in being a Christian.  I have   to be honest with you, and it is something to really pray about.  A lot of the sadness we have experienced comes from people in the Christian community.  People in Christian production and entertainment saying they want to do God- honoring projects, but not walking the walk.  That is where it really hurts.  They are supposed to be brothers and sisters in the Lord and there is an integrity issue.    I know that we all sin and we all have issues, but we are supposed to be pulling together here and not tearing each other down.  I also think we Christians are not immune to the same thing the world is faced with; money, success, power, greed and pride.  God had really convicted me a while ago that I was climbing so many ladders to success.   He said to me “Kerri, there is no ladder  to God.  There is room for everybody.  You don’t have to be in such a hurry to get ahead of other people.  I will guide your career.”  Basically  I think the world tells us we have to be on a fast track to success which has nothing to do with what God has for us.

Ed.:  This issue will be coming out the latter part of April.  Is there anything we can be saying or doing that could be of benefit to your ministry?

Kerri:  I would ask your readers if they could pray for my husband and I.   That we really want to be bold in 2009 and we really need the prayer support.  It is a definite spiritual battle that I have never experienced in my life, moving forward in Hollywood.   To get the doors open where God wants us to go is like going through quick sand.    God has lifted me out of a slimy pit.  We just covet the prayers of your readers.  We feel like we are missionaries in Hollywood and we do what God wants us to do here.

Ed.:  We’ll pray for your daughter Lucy too.

Kerri:  She is a star, she goes on stage, she goes on tour, she goes everywhere.

Ed.:  You all are stars in our view.

Kerri:  We hope to meet you in person, come to some of your churches in Virginia and  come to your show when you have another one.

Ed.:  That’s what we would like.  On our web pages you may have noted, from time to time, we have put on a Christian media convention.  We would like to do another, in the future, and already several outstanding folks like you have said they would like to take part. They want us to continue that aspect of our mission.  We notice that you and your husband also have put on marriage and family workshops.

Kerri:  We do all kinds of events, if there is a need or a fundraiser or an outreach in a community.  We’d love to come in and do some comedy and share  the Gospel.

Our readers are urged to check out Kerri’s web page The page will direct readers to her  award winning columns, samples of both her and Ron’s work on stage and her cartoons.  There is contact information for people who wish to book Kerri and Ron for their church or organization.

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May 19 2009

Pastor Daina House

Published by doc under Interviews

We always appreciate it when one of our readers helps us make a contact for an interview.   Over the Christmas holidays, Michael Marx wrote us about Daina House, whom he considers an outstanding Christian.  We immediately made contact and we were given the following interview.  She is a person with an important mission and message for others.

Ed.: I want to start right off to ask about your ministry. From looking at your web page it seems intensely interesting and has us wanting to know all about what you are doing.

Daina:  My ministry is at Church on the Way, where I am a pastor for single moms.  I have been a single mom for 23 years.  That is my church ministry; however, I also have a deliverance ministry where I help the down and out as well as people addicted to drugs and alcohol.  I also do a lot of counseling.  I love helping people find their way from the world to Jesus. He’s the only Person who can make them happy.  Basically because of what I’ve been through, I try to help others get their life straight and find their place in this world.
Ed.: What led you to this ministry?
Daina:   It was the Lord. When I first got saved I was in the entertainment industry and doing drugs.   I grew up in a middle-to -upper class family and I didn’t do drugs in high school.  I came out to California and got involved in modeling and entering beauty contests.  I was trying to find my way and what I was going to do with my life when I was approached by Playboy magazine to be a centerfold.  It wasn’t something I wanted to do; I was very adamant against it.   There were all kinds or stories about what Playboy was and what they were offering the girls that got involved.  But after many rejections, they offered me a tremendous amount of money and eventually I did give in and said yes.  However, it wasn’t long after I shot the pictorial when I had a change of mind.  I decided I didn’t want to go through with it.  Since it was a two-year contract and they had given me half the money up front, they said it was too late to get out of it.  They said I could either change my name or write my own story.  I wasn’t going to change my name because my name is who I am.  So they let me write my own story which was called “Decidedly Daina.”  I even wrote in the story that I had great reservations.  Immediately, I found myself in world of riches, politicians,  celebrities, Mafia, you name it.  It was the Devil’s Candy Store.  All of a sudden people were calling me to do this or that movie or television show.  I had gotten married in June of 1975, before I did Playboy and it was absolutely a nightmare for my marriage.  There was so much turmoil we ended up separating, and one night I drove to the Playboy Mansion to spend the night while I was fighting with my husband.   Hugh Hefner asked to see me and I was very nervous when we met - I was 20.   He asked me to be his girlfriend.  I said “I’m married. “I think that’s called adultery, right?”  I don’t remember what he said after that, I only remember having great hopes of saving my marriage.  Then I saw them pull my December cover, and I lost what I thought I deserved, Playmate of the Year!  As I look back on it, I know that the Lord was totally and completely protecting me; but at the time, I saw it as rejection, and that spun me off into a world of rejection.  I wasn’t an actress I was a “Playmate”.  I wasn’t a wife; I was a “Playmate”.  I didn’t know who I was on the inside.  I was a beautiful girl to others, but when I looked in the mirror, for all the success I had, I was empty.  I felt like a failure.  I started to drink and I was introduced to drugs.  There was a four-year period when I did drugs and I drank all the time.  I believe it was 1981 when I took a lot of sleeping pills and prayed to die in my sleep.  I woke up the next morning and said, “Okay, God.  If I’m going to live, I’m going to live.” I just got mad and I remember that my drug dealer at that time came by my house to see if I wanted to get high and I said, “No, I’m going to live.”  Literally I was delivered from drugs completely.  I never entered rehab and never went through any kind of 12-step program.  I called up my sister, who was thirteen and a born again Christian, and she said, “I’m going to take you   to Church on the Way.” It was the beginning for me.

Ed.: I understand this wasn’t the end of your quest for salvation.   So many people assume that once you become a Christian it guarantees a bed of roses.  You still had a long way to go.

Daina: Before going to church with my sister, my agent literally told people that I was out of the country because I would go to interviews and I would be high.  I would be up all night and I would make a fool out of myself.  I was completely and totally broke even though I had made a lot of money.  I frivolously spent all the money I had.  The day I called my sister I had been eating rice for three days, because my unemployment check hadn’t come.  No one knew this.  Everyone thought I was living a life that was grand.  I was at the bottom of the barrel.  So my sister picked me up and took me to Church on the Way.  I got born agai and was baptized in water.  Thus my life as a Christian began.  However, it would be another ten years before it was complete.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know who God was.  I was trying to be sanctified, to make my life work as a Christian, but I found myself being pulled back to my old life, or any easy money, thus always compromising my walk with the Lord.  I was modeling, doing television shows, but doing parts with titles like “Easy” and playing Will Smith’s side kick’s girl friend in a bathing suit.  I still couldn’t find myself or figure out what the whole Christian thing was all about.  I wasn’t living a holy life.  I had one foot in the world and one foot in the Kingdom.  The dance was continual. I had met my son’s father in 1984.  Three years after I was born again.  He served a dramatic purpose in my life.  It was good for me to be accountable to someone who did not touch drugs, was very upstanding, except for when I got pregnant with our son Tyler.  He wanted nothing to do with the pregnancy and he left our life.  So I decided, “it’s me and my baby.’  In fact I called up Mike Marx and said, “I have no where to go, and I’m pregnant and I don’t know what to do, and I have no place to live.”  So he said ‘You can come and stay on my couch for as long as you need.”  So I stayed on his couch for two months until I could get myself and my finances together enough to get my own apartment.  I will be forever grateful to him…

My son was born in 1986 and he was delivered by C-section.  I was in a room with the baby on my chest and all these lights.  And the Lord suddenly spoke to my spirit.  Almost audibly he said to me, “In seven years you will come into your own.”  I thought, “Wow what was that?”  Usually when you have a birth it is very quiet.  With a C-section delivery, there are lights and people all around but I could not hear what they were saying.  I could just hear the Lord.  So I began to raise my son while I was working three jobs.   I had this little baby and trying to live a straight life, but I was working in a bar where it was really not conducive to Christian living.  I was trying to get back in the industry because it was the only thing I knew I could do, because I didn’t go to college.   I didn’t know my capacity for education.   I had lived off my looks for so long I didn’t even know I had a brain.   Nobody ever said to me “Why don’t you try using your brain?”  I knew that I knew things, but didn’t know I could make a living that way.   I finally quit working in a bar and got a call from my agent and said “You’re going to audition to play a role similar to Tammy Faye Baker.”   I played a preacher and the episode was called “God’s Will.”  When I walked in and looked at the producer, he said “Can you preach?”  I had never preached before in my life and he gives me the script.  I did the sermon and he said it was perfect and I was hired.  I looked at the script and said, “Okay, God’s Will” and I am playing a preacher. Talk about prophetic.”  So I did the part and things started to change in my life.
Ed.: And now events were happening that would lead you to meet Jesus.

Daina: Yes. In January of ‘94 there was an earthquake.  It was really a major earthquake.  In fact, it was also an earthquake of my soul.  I remember after it happened, literally everything I had, had been preserved, untouched.  Nothing in my house was broken. I had my phone and nobody else around me did.  I was holding my hands on a gigantic picture of Jesus I had on the wall praying, “Father, if you let us live I’ll do anything to serve you the rest of my life.  Just don’t let us die. If you do this I will do anything you want.”  I just felt this whispering in my soul, “Okay”  A week later I decided to go to the church with my son and we got baptized together.  Well, I got baptized with the Holy Spirit.  Shortly after that I was sick in bed and there was a Christian gentleman who was mentoring me.  You talk about boot camp. He was boot camp for Jesus.   He said, “You’ve got demons, you’ve got witchcraft, you’ve got pride, and you’ve got perversion and lust.  You need major deliverance.  Instead of being insulted, as I would have been before, I said, “Okay, let’s do this Jesus thing!”  He said, “You’ve got to learn to pay your own bills, and do it with truth and with purpose.”  I did everything he told me to do.   Later he was reading the Bible to me next to my bed because I was sick with a cold, he was reading from Jeremiah 13:17 where it says, “But if you will not hear it, My soul will weep in secret for your pride; My eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, Because the LORD’s flock has been taken captive.”  I cannot remember the exact words, but I looked at him and said “Pride, I don’t have any pride!”  He replied, “Oh yes you do.”  At that moment I said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute.”  He said “What?”   I said, “It’s a man, it’s a man, its Jesus at the foot of my bed!”  He asked me if it was scary and I said “No.”  I closed my eyes and He was still there, I opened my eyes and He was still there, after a few moments I said, “Okay, okay, okay, I know you are real, I know you are real.”  In the past I had asked, ”If You are real, I need to know You are real.”  I know some people believe in their heart, and their faith is so easy and they don’t question it, but I couldn’t get it from  my head to my heart.  I kept asking Jesus to make it real to me.  I didn’t really believe it; I wanted to really believe it.  So He showed up at the foot of my bed.  He said, “Daina, when you were in the world, wherever you went I went with you.  I followed you wherever you went.  But I’m not following you any more.  You’re following me.”  He spoke to me and my spirit.  Then the vision went away and I looked at my friend and said “It’s real.  I get it, I get it.”   For the next three months all I did was read The Word.  I got baptized in the Holy Spirit and my life changed completely.  This was 2 days after my son’s seventh birthday.  When I was in the hospital and God said, “You’ll come into your own”, I was thinking I would get a call with a big role offer, or a big modeling job or commercial.  I had all these delusions -aspirations about what God meant, but what HE meant was that I would be following hard after HIM in seven years.  By this time the sanctification process began to work.
I didn’t know what to do; I had no means of making money.  I didn’t want to wait tables; I told my agent and manager I was quitting show business.   I had sold my soul to the Devil once and wasn’t going to do it again.  I knew that I had to trust the Lord.  Let me tell you something… That was the hardest year of my whole life.  I was 38 years old, I had a child and I didn’t know what I was going to do to make a living, I just knew I was following Jesus.  I didn’t know what I was going to do, but knew I was on my own.  No more rich boyfriends who paid my bills, no more parts playing prostitutes.  So I started looking in the newspaper and said “Okay, Lord, you have to show me.”   All of a sudden my fingers started throbbing like a heart beat and I looked down to where they rested on the article and it said, a “pre-school teacher” was needed at a Christian school.  I said. “Okay, I’ll go be a pre-school teacher.”  I walked in for an interview and they asked about my experience.  I had done child care at Church on the Way.  They asked if I had ever worked a computer and I said I had.  The pastor’s secretary was out on pregnancy leave and I was asked to take her place until she came back.  Then they could use me in the pre-school.  I said, “Okay God, I get it.  I’m going back to pre-school.”  After all the years doing things MY WAY, I was offered seven dollars and twenty five cents an hour.  I had no car so I walked.  I had borrowed a car to get to the interview.

When they told me the wage I remembered I had received twenty five hundred dollars a day doing shows and signing autographs. At first I thought, “I can’t take this job”, but I took the job anyway.  Someone in their congregation had a house, a two bedroom guest house, they rented it to me for $400.00 a month and every miracle possible that could happen started happening to me. 

Ed.:  We understand that this was just the beginning of your journey.

Daina: I quit almost every bad habit I had and I quit dating.  Everything in my life changed.  Two years after working for the church pre-school, I went back into the world and went to work at an insurance company and started doing accounting.  Then I became a personal manager and started working with different people in their estates and managing their money.  I was finding I could make money using my brain.  In the meantime I did childcare at church, I went on missions, I was singing on the platform, and I worked with a drama group that took the message of Jesus into the world through plays.  I was on the Board of Directors for Safe Passage which was a home for women and their children who suffered from domestic violence. I helped put up tents in Hollywood with my girlfriends and held tent revival meetings.  We had Benny Hinn and all the big preachers come. It was one thing after the next.  One day I woke up from a dead sound sleep saying, “The kings are anointed.”   I asked, “What does that mean, the kings are anointed, the kings are anointed?”   I looked at I Kings, II Kings, Chronicles, Samuel, and I couldn’t figure out what the Lord was saying to me.  A week later I was walking down a hallway at Church on the Way and I looked up and saw a sign on the building that said King’s College and Seminary.  I thought, “Oh no, I’m 48, I don’t want to go to college.”  The Lord said, “You’re going to college.”  So I enrolled in Bible College, and I graduated with honors.  I made straight A’s.  I realized that this is such a passionate thing for me.  The Lord has been saying, “We’re going to go here, we’re going to go there.”  A year after that He said, “We’re going to get your license.”   A year after that He said “Now, we’re going to write the book.”  I’m two hundred pages into the book and I have publishers and it should be out the first of next year.  That’s where I am today.

Ed.:  What a fantastic witness.  Normally I would ask about the TV shows and films you have done, however I hesitate as I don’t want to take away from the main point of your story.

Daina:  That’s an important part of where I was and how I got here. I did Starsky and Hutch, Houston Knights, Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Dukes of Hazzard, and I am especially pleased to have done the 700 Club. I did movies with Zsa Zsa Gabor, Robert Mitchum, Susan Sarandon and Henry Fonda. I did all the TV shows in the seventies and the eighties.   It started when I took the title of The Most Beautiful Girl in California.  Part of the prize was acting lessons and money.  When I was in the world I was just basically trying to make money.  When you come to this town (Hollywood) you discover a whole new world.  They find a fresh face in town and you either survive or you don’t.  Luckily for me I was only in to drugs and alcohol for four years.  I tried to kill myself and get it all over with.  I just said, “No.”  I look back now and my mom’s parents were doctors and they were elders of the Baptist Church.  We were raised with great morals and values.  I was a very good kid and never got in trouble.  But when I was exposed to so much out here I was trying to find, “Who am I.”   It took God to point me to “Who am I.” The answer to “who am I” can only be answered by the God of the universe who made you for a purpose and a destiny.  It is His plan.    The Lord is in complete control of my life and I like it that way.  He put such a great obedience in my life that He has become my Husband.  I was married before as I said, but now I am single now.  I’m not sure if the Lord has a Godly husband for me - His will be done!  If not, praise the Lord as He is my strength and I will live for Him the rest of my life.   The Lord has opened new portals to me and I have had dreams and visions.   I love helping people and it is not about me, it’s all about giving God the glory.

Ed. Note: For more about Daina House and her ministry check out her web site.

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May 19 2009

Leslie Easterbrook

Published by doc under Interviews

Leslie Easterbrook attended our first two Christian media events and was one of the first people to hear about the Point North project, even before we had an official  name for it. She was a major hit at our events and we have been in touch ever since.  Recently we had the opportunity to have an in-depth, interview with her.  So in depth that for the first time we ran an interview in two issues.

Ed.:  We first met you in Hollywood thanks to a breakfast meeting set up by Heather Lowe. We had not announced our start of the Point North Outreach program, in fact not more than four people knew about it.   We described it to you not knowing what your reaction would be to a Christian media convention and you were very positive, didn’t seem to give it a second thought. Did you at the time consider the idea as unusual or as something that was needed?

Leslie: I was enjoying your company, as Heather Lowe and Andy Prine had assured me I would, so when you mentioned the idea of a Christian media convention, I was further impressed and intrigued.  I initially thought it was a great idea, feared it could be exploited in the wrong hands, but you seemed very sincere in your intent and indicated a good deal of experience with both Christianity and fan events.  I wasn’t entirely sure what your ultimate goals were, but was convinced you had a good idea and would go forward with integrity, which you did.  Most promoters, if you will, only book actors for their fan appeal.  That is understandable.  If you are going to spend money to set up and advertise an event, you must book ‘stars’ that fans will pay to meet — and the basic requirement for stars at these events?  Meet, chat and sign.  That’s all   we   are   usually   required to do.  Well, to be fair, it is extremely flattering for us.  Imagine the thrill of thinking people would line up just to meet you.  It’s an amazing high.  However, it’s usually frustrating to encounter so many interesting people and realize, in retrospect, that you never got to know any of them or to share anything of substance.

You were offering us a way to really communicate at Point North – this was before the name ‘Point North’ had even been chosen, as I recall.   In short, you were offering us a dialogue. You were asking us, as guests, to share our views and beliefs with the fans and to listen to theirs, as well. You wanted us to Witness with one another.  It sounded good – I wanted to try it! And if we could improve the Christian message in the mainstream media as a result — Bravo!

Ed.: As a guest at our first event we visited a round table session you conducted in which you used the idea of God being like an artist and life being like a painting. Very beautiful and very unusual. Could you repeat that now?

As I was reading different religious passages and books on faith as a kind of research before attending the event, I became fixated on books of art, paintings and sculptures mostly.  Then I found myself envisioning masterpieces by great artists I’d visited in museums here and in many cities around the world, too.  I don’t know why.  I was trying to collect my thoughts as a Christian and find some inspiration I could share with your guests at a “Round Table.”  It was a new experience for me and I wanted to be prepared.  But why was I so drawn to great works of art at the same precise time?

Suddenly it occurred to me that God is the greatest artist of all.  He has created this universe of extreme beauty, drama, diversity, challenge and change in many ways like a master painter creates complex life, on a canvas – in a much more limited sense, of course.  The thing that struck me was that God’s world is ever changing and growing, just like an artist’s work.  It is said that an artist is never finished with a painting and will work and rework it until it is wrestled, sometimes forcibly, away from him or her. I know from experience that when you are acting on the stage, you may say the same lines night after night, but they are never the same.  You work on them before bed, before breakfast, on the way to the theatre – you constantly rework the character you are playing.  You stay within the boundaries of the direction and the author’s roadmap, but you are never satisfied.  Often I am haunted by a role long after a production has closed.  I will find myself discovering something I’d missed and suddenly see how it would have influenced the entire play if I’d just gotten it earlier.  I am certainly not calling myself a great artist, but I’ve chosen a creative profession and feel called to contribute.

All I was sharing was the concept that God is the greatest artist of all – his canvas is never done.  His creations are never static.  Even stones change their shape over many many years.  We humans are part of his great handiwork and if we listen very carefully, we can hear and feel him guide our lives — day by day, minute by minute and even second by second.  We respond to the stroke of his great and gentle brush in this mighty masterpiece called life.

Ed.: You are both a singer and an actress, actually a classical singer. When did you start with your interest in both fields and which do you feel closest to?

Leslie: For many years I did more singing than acting, then things reversed and I’ve never looked back.  As long as I get to do a little of each every year, I feel grateful.

My father was a music teacher in the public schools and was also a Professor of Music at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.  He was also a wonderful tenor soloist, composer, arranger and church choir director.  He taught me to read music before I even started kindergarten – I had no choice but to sing.  I graduated from Stephens College in Columbia, MO with a degree in music with an emphasis on opera, but ultimately turned down a full post-graduate scholarship to Julliard — only because I had discovered the theatre!  For years my compromise was performing Musical Theatre.

Herein lies the rub  so to speak, my love of music wasn’t just based on hearing or even producing beautiful notes. It was also based on the drama!  I always chose roles and songs because of what they said – their message, if you will.  Even an instrumental symphony speaks to me – it always tells a story.

I really had no choice in any of this because my mother was an English teacher in the public schools and then taught literature at the same University as my father.  She filled in my love of story, my fascination with the communication of characters, my respect for dramatic structure and kindled my passion to express grand emotion.  Between the two of them, I was a hopeless combination of the performer and the storyteller.  If I’d ever shown any promise as a writer, that probably would have been my profession, but, alas, I am but a vessel awaiting directional inspiration.

Truthfully, I’ve always liked acting better than singing.  It’s a little easier, you see, to act spontaneously, without having to do it on pitch or in tempo.  Singing is perhaps more gratifying – when you get it right and I mean just right; when you can tell the story without your technique getting in the way.  If I finish a performance in which I have sung and someone simply tells me I sounded good or even glorious, I feel I’ve failed; but. If they tell me I moved them, I’m on cloud nine for days!!

Ed.: You began your television career with Laverne and Shirley, the comedy on which you were a regular after its first few seasons.  You showed a great flair for comedy and you had a cast of comic trained people to keep up with, often exceeding. What was it like working with those folks and actually getting an opportunity to sing?

Leslie:  I was, indeed, a regular on Laverne and Shirley for the last 3 seasons, playing an actress-model-dancer named Rhonda Lee.  It was a wild ride securing that part with 6 auditions and a 6-month SAG strike between my first meeting with the casting director, the dear and brilliant Bobby Hoffman, and the actually getting the contract.  Every nervous minute was worth it though.  Suffice to say, I learned a great deal in those 3 years.  Most of what I learned had nothing to do with acting, but has helped me navigate the industry for years.  Only recently has ‘the business of the business’ changed radically enough to make those lessons learned on L&S almost obsolete.  I need a new series to learn the new language…what a novel idea…

I loved Rhonda, but believe me, she was never funnier than the other characters, no matter how much I probably wanted her to be.  Those actors were, and still are, really good!

My “flair” for comedy, which you allude to, is, perhaps instead, my constant twisted sense of humor.  But, thank you for the compliment, anyway.  I always seem to find the humor in any situation, much to the chagrin of more serious minded folks, but my sense of humor is what kept me alive and working on L&S.  By the time I got there, the regulars were very unhappy with everything – the scripts, their characters, the producers, the network, the studio, the wardrobe department, you name it…the list was endless and the angst so thick you could cut it with a knife.  But, their endless talents always saved the day.  They could be throwing things one minute and absolutely hysterically funny the next.  They were an inspiration to me and I watched them like a hawk – even managed to stay out of their way.  I’ve never been able get too upset about anything I can’t control, so the only thing that ever got me really nervous was the potential that one of the regulars would become upset with me.  It never happened and that taught me an enormous lesson – just do your job and stay out of sight when you have nothing to contribute.

I never got tired of watching them rehearse and perform.  They were masters of getting the joke, improving the joke and then adapting the joke to their characters.  They could take a script and personalize it in a way I’d never witnessed before.  What’s stunning to me is that I’ve never seen it done as well since.  Penny, Cindy, David, Michael, Eddie, Phil and Betty – brilliant!  Simply Brilliant! The shows haven’t weathered the test of time as well as the their individual work has.

Eddie Mecca and I were the only singers in the group, so I got a couple of opportunities to warble.  It was my first attempt at lip-syncing.  It’s not so easy.  It was also my first time in a recording studio.  I drove them crazy – take after take, to get it just so.  I was like the others with their scripts.  I wouldn’t be nearly so picky now.  It’s like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it gets.  The more you hear yourself, the more objective you become – the better you sing it the first time, too, knowing how costly and totally boring (for you, but especially for the crew) it is to sing/hear it over and over again.

Ed.:  After Laverne and Shirley you were on such television favorites as Murder She Wrote, Matlock, Masterpiece Theater, Hunter and Dukes of Hazzard. Do you have any special memories of those shows or people you worked with?

All of the other well-known shows came after that very lucky break.  Before L&S, I had only worked on one CBS pilot called The Two of Us, starring Dixie Carter and Peter Cook, and an episode of Me and Maxx,  starring Joe Santos.

Me and Maxx was a short-lived CBS series and I was cast as Maxx”s school teacher, for one   episode  only.    After  it aired,   the network contacted me about wanting the grade school teacher I had just played to become a semi-regular character on the series.  I was thrilled, until the whole show was canceled, 3 weeks later.  Now, The Two of Us was a terrific pilot and we were all pulling for it to get on the air.  It did, but CBS replaced Dixie with Mimi Kennedy and me with a ten-year-old girl.  Peter Cook stayed on and was wonderful in the series, as was Mimi and the 10-year old- girl!  But, get this, I played Dixie/Mimi’s agent in the pilot.  They took all of my dialogue and gave it to the character’s daughter in the first episode – one of the strangest and funniest ‘firings’ I’ve ever had. I did a bunch of Murder She Wrote‘s.   Peter Fisher was very good to me.  I always got to play smart, strong, cranky or funny women — depending on the situations.  My favorite Murder memory is this:  I was 2 hours late to the set the first day of my first episode.  Ms. Lansbury’s son, Anthony Shaw, was directing.  I thought my goose was cooked for sure.  Well, the tears running down my cheeks when I finally arrived on the set for my first rehearsal must have moved him, because he carried on as if there had never been the slightest upset in the schedule.  What a guy. He wasn’t always my director on Murder, but they were all top notch.  I had such a good time working Murder, that when they spun off a show called The Law and Harry McGraw, they cast me as a gangster’s moll in the second episode.  In that episode, my gangster boyfriend had just been killed and Jerry Orbach, Harry McGraw for those of you who may not remember, discovers me at the mortuary tearfully picking out a casket.  He picks my brain and I like the look of him.  We had a very cute relationship and shortly after we wrapped the episode, Mr. Fisher’s company called me to ask me to continue my character and become Harry McGraw’s girlfriend – semi regular employment again!  Of course I said, “YES!” and once again…the show was canceled 3 weeks later.They did cast me as Harry’s bookie, in a 2- hour Murder episode, that may well have been their last.  It was the end of their first 7 years on CBS and Peter Fisher was no long going to produce the show.   Most of the cast and crew thought it was ending – but, Angela Lansbury’s family decided to keep shooting and to produce it themselves.  Good for them.  I was extremely surprised to be asked to return again, under the new management, and do one final episode.  This time I got to work with the great lady herself, instead of in a sub-plot, and it was the treat of a lifetime.  She is everything you’ve ever thought and more.  I’ve never worked with a more giving and professional actor anytime, anywhere.  I was the ‘red-herring’ and played her personal hairdresser.  Oh, what fun we had!  And, the show lasted another five years on the air – all of them highly rated and memorable.

What started out as one episode of Matlock, turned into two.  My character in the first was so evil that they used her/me as a jailbreak killer on the lamb, hunting down Matlock, in another episode. I had killed my lover for sleeping with my daughter and framed my husband in my first episode. Oh, she was a bad woman, but she sure was fun to play.  I loved working with Andy Griffith.  What a generous actor!

Leslie: The last show I’ll share about is Dukes of Hazzard.  It was a ball!  I was supposed to wreck a van in that one and wreck it, I did.  I played a fortuneteller who traveled and worked with a sidekick.  My sidekick was Tommy Madden.  He had been the ‘understudy dwarf’ and my best back stage pal in my very first professional musical, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  I got my Actors’ Equity card playing Snow White at the St. Louis Muni Opera for the Disney Company.  Tommy and I hadn’t seen each other in 10 years when we teamed up again in Dukes.  It was wonderful to see and work with him again.  Oh, and he even helped me wreck the van!

Every movie, play and TV episode has a story, for me, behind the scenes, as you can see.  I really appreciate this opportunity to think back and smile.

Ed.: You probably are asked most about the film series, Police Academy, now considered a classic. There too, in six of the seven films, you co-starred with a big cast. What are your favorite memories of that series and is there a possibility of another one?

I love a big ensemble cast – I was adopted and raised as an only child who always wanted to be part of a big family.  Oh, how I longed for brothers and sisters.  A big cast is the perfect answer for me – although there are always some conflicts, you all pull together for the final take.  You become like siblings, in that you can yell at each other, but don’t let anyone from the “outside” try it.  It’s funny that way.  I think that’s why I love big musicals and classical plays – big casts — big families!

Do I have any favorite memories?”   Almost every memory I have of a Police Academy movie is a ‘favorite’ memory of my life.  Our ensemble cast is my favorite film/theatre family of all time.  Almost 26 years after we filmed the first one, my heart still skips a beat and tears come to my eyes when I think of the depth of the friendships that were founded at that retired insane asylum cum police academy campus outside of Toronto.  Other cast members were added as the series expanded and, miraculously, they were welcomed into the heart of the family, as well, and just moved on in.  Of all the strange things, egos were never apparent on the set.  No pouting, no arguing, many hilarious biting insults, though — but that’s what you expect when you work with stand up comics — and no jealousies. Go figure.  Is there a family anywhere that can boast of that?  It’s certainly the only theatrical family, in my history, that got along that well.  Most of them are filled with high drama and then some.

I guess my favorite memory is every memory. Hugh Wilson was our director on the first one and he set the tone.  We all loved him and he trusted his cast totally.  Before every scene we were encouraged to get together and figure it out – block it out, work on the jokes and make them better, rewrite it, add to it, cut some of it; whatever it took.  Most of the time, when Hugh finally witnessed our handiwork, he accepted it, shot it our way and thanked us for the improvements.  Since he had written it, he could un-write it when he wanted – no ego…absolute heaven.  And, when he was right and we were wrong, we respected his decision.  Even when our later directors became rather authoritative with us, we took it with a smile, because we’d had Hugh once upon a time and he had trusted us.  We tried to pass that on to future cast additions and, for the most part, it worked.

There are too many great memories to list here, so I’ll just share with you my most moving Police Academy experience.  We made the 7th one in Russia, soon after the Cold War ended.  We were there when the citizens tried to burn down their white house.  The government was completely unstable and the people were starving.  Among the long list of heartbreaking stories I could tell you are these few:

1. We stayed in Moscow too long (like Napoleon) and it began to snow.  One morning I looked outside our bus and noticed the prop man was making props, wearing no gloves, in a blinding blizzard.  I bundled up, went outside and gave him my own.  He tried not to take them, but I can be very persuasive.  The next day, more snow.  I look outside and there he is again – again wearing no gloves.  I bundle up and go outside to find out why he is still freezing his fingers.  (Mind you, this is all in broken English/Russian)  He tells me he gave the warm gloves to his family – none of them have mittens.  I wasn’t working the next day so I went to the flea market, where I purchased 20 pairs of mittens and gloves – all for well under $1 a pair — and took them to him on the set.  The next day I worked and he was bare handed again.  I asked him why and he said, “I have big family.”  It was then that the entire cast began bringing mittens, gloves and warm scarves, as gifts, everyday for our entire crew.  None of our crew was working for money on the film.  They were working for the hot meal.  Even our American producer didn’t know this – but when he found out, things changed somewhat.  Our crew was made up of the best artisans in the Russian film industry – it’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?

2. One day I needed a check, made out to a charity, for a prop in a scene planned for the next day.  Our producer told the prop guys (2 of them) what was needed and then left the room.  The prop guys looked lost.  They turned to me and asked, “What check?”  I explained what a charity was and how we give them money, but they still looked confused.  I pulled a check out of my purse and made it out to the charity.  I gave it to them, in case they didn’t have one the next day.  My friend from the mitten exchange was looking really confused by this time and finally said, “Ya, understand, but what check?”  During the next exchange, it finally dawned on me that they didn’t know what a “check” was.  As I found out, during that conversation and many afterwards, the Russian people had never ever had bank accounts.  All they knew was cash.  They had never seen a check, let alone a credit card.  This knocked me for a loop, of course, and then I began to realize why, when the value of the ruble fell, so did the Soviet Union.

3. One more Russia story and I will stop.  We were the first western film allowed to shoot in Red Square since the revolution in 1917.  We set up graduation-bleachers right there in front of St. Basil’s, with the Kremlin to our left and Lenin’s tomb further down.  (I finally went to see Lenin’s body the last week both Lenin and I were in Moscow.  It was the last week his body was ever seen by the public, as the new government gave his body back to the company that had been chemically preserving it, as it lay in state, for the last 60 or 70 years.  How could I leave town without paying my respects?)  Our producer had asked for 250 policemen, in uniform, to act as extras for our scene.  Everyone was shocked when 700 of them showed up.  It turned out that the police and the military are one and the same in Russia and the soldiers had heard that we were serving lunch.  Our American producer was flabbergasted and at a loss.  How do you feed 950 extras when you’ve budgeted for a mere 250?  He asked our Hungarian caterer if he could do it.  Our caterer and his staff left the set, actually found enough food and cooked for all of us – no one went hungry that day.  Pictures were taken with every one of those soldiers.  Many happy tears were shed by all of us at Red Square that day!  Believe it or not, the soldiers were all fans of the Police Academy movies, although they had only seen them on bootlegged videos.  Our movies were illegal in the Soviet Union.

My stories about that one movie could go on and on.  When we wrapped and I finally left Russia, I cried all the way to London.  I cried because of the heartbreak and also because I missed our crew and all of the Russian actors we had worked with.  I wanted to bring them all to the US. Their lives may have been difficult, but, though they were shy and reserved at first, they showed us a kind of love and acceptance in the end that I will never forget.  It’s been emotionally draining just to tell these stories.

Our last film, Mission to Moscow, wasn’t very good.  We were there during the coup and could never keep a location long enough to complete a sequence properly.  The government kept changing and the evening curfew kept getting earlier and earlier, so we were shooting on the fly.  We escaped getting arrested several times only by proving we were in the movie.  Michael Winslow would get out and do his noises in order to convince the police we were the cast of Police Academy. It’s a shame there isn’t a better movie to represent our experience there.

Ed.: I have to ask if that is where you and Marion Ramsey became such good friends? A great team and we hope to interview her later. Marion was partnered with you at the two events you joined us for. You both revealed what outstanding singers you are.

Marion is the one who is good on the fly, though.  I really don’t sing well unless I rehearse with an accompanist and kind of become one with my environment, if you will.  I’m even better if I’m singing in character, as opposed to just singing a song.  I’ve been a little embarrassed when I’ve sung for you.  Perhaps one day you will here me sing at my best.  I was in a showcase of a new musical this summer and had a great song – the show was based on the early lives of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez.  I played Lucy’s mother, De De.  I felt absolutely committed while singing my song – you see, I was in character.  The song is called “Little Girls” and if the show goes, it will be a classic.  The show is called Dance with Me.

Marion and I met on the first Police Academy movie.  We worked and played together, but we didn’t become like sisters until the 3rd one, Back in Training.  Our musical backgrounds and our passion for the theatre are probably what really bonded us.  We just got into a habit of watching each other’s backs.  Marion is one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. She is a giver and once she is on board with you, she is a lifesaver.  We’ve been there for each other though thick and thin; celebrating the victories and bearing the heartbreaks.  It’s always a treat to travel with her.  Our styles are so different, yet where one picks up the other leaves off.  We are indeed a “Team Thing.”  That’s the title of a song we sang in PA3 and then we sang it again, for you, at Point North.

Ed.: You have made some films, not enough to our thinking, since the Police Academy’s. Some in which you got to display your more serious side as an actor.  Do any of them stand out to you?

Well, I wish there were more, too.  In fact, I was just lamenting the lack of good roles this very morning.  I do that sometimes and, then, I pray it away.  If the good Lord has something in mind for me, I’m sure that he will reveal it in His own sweet time.

A couple of my more recent film roles stand out to me because they were more serious, but also because I had the opportunity to explore my dark side.  I’m sort of a breezy person.  I find humor in unexpected places, yes,  but, when asked to crawl out from under a rock, I seem to be quite ready for it, as well.  That was a surprise to me.  Now, the evil characters I’ve played in the last few years were also a little funny – yes, they were in serious, deadly serious, situations, but they were still able to make light of it all.  Perhaps that’s my specialty?  I’ve also had to use very bad language, yet found it easy, even fun in The Devil’s Rejects which came out in the summer of 2005.  I even hate to mention the name of that film because it’s so disgusting!  But. I am proud of my work in it.  In so many of my films and TV shows, I didn’t get a chance to go beneath the surface.  Rob Zombie not only let me, he insisted on it.  I loved exploring the limits of my own sanity and surviving.  It can be very cathartic, I found.  I had done it in the theatre, of course, but never before on film.

I have a list of new credits, but I’ll only tell you about Black Water Transit.  The others are either too small or too silly to really get me going.  But, Black Water had the best script I’ve ever read.  Notice I said, “had.”  Director Tony Kaye re-wrote it every day on the set, so who knows what it is today.  Tony is a controversial director, to say the least, but brilliant.  He directed American History X. He is English and fascinated by all things American.  American History X is about gangs in America, Blackwater is a drama about guns in America.

Our film takes place in New Orleans, post Katrina.  It is dark and complex.  The film has some really interesting actors in it; Laurence Fishburne, Tom Skerritt, Brittany Snow, Beverly D’Angelo Stephen Dorff and Carl Urban.  It’s a big nasty film — or it should be.  Since Tony re-wrote all of it on the set, he confused his actors just a bit.  We were all adapting to New Orleans accents and the script changes made it all the more difficult to pull that off.  Also, the film may be impossible to edit.  We finished shooting in August 2007 and it’s not out yet – yes, I’m worried it will never be released.  No, I’m not giving up hope.

I play Bet, a character based on a real woman, who, together with her husband, left New Orleans before Katrina hit – without making any evacuation plans for the patients in her convalescent home.  They all drowned.  She and her husband, in the film version, steal the valuables from their decaying corpses, when they return to the stricken city after a cruise. The real woman Bet is based on actually went to trial for her crimes, recently.  She was exonerated.  I don’t know the details, but I think justice may not have been served.  Bet, in the film, meets her fate in a very different way. Again, I’m playing a despicable character, but, true to my legacy, not without humor.  If half of what I shot makes it onto the screen, you should find her horrible, yet ridiculously cavalier.

Ed.: As a Christian, have you ever felt that you were discriminated against in regard to your work as an actress? We only ask as we hear so many  stories about stars who have had trouble getting work because of their beliefs.

Leslie: It’s never been an issue for me.  Perhaps it’s because I’m a character actress and not a star.  My private life has never been big news.  With a name like Easterbrook, being Jewish or Muslim wouldn’t be very likely, I suppose, and since films don’t usually shoot on Sundays, I’ve been spared having to ask for special time off.  I have found that the community of filmmaking and the theatre are a wonderful melting pot of all kinds of people and every religion.  We often talk openly about our differences and lovingly respect each other’s beliefs, even if different from our own.  I think that is one reason I love my profession so much.  It really upsets me when I think of anyone being targeted negatively because of their beliefs – unless, of course, they are using them to hurt others.  That’s a different story!

Ed.: In that same vein, how important do you consider your faith in your  daily life and work?

My faith is what lifts me up in the morning and keeps me going until I fall asleep at night.  I feel it and see it working, always, in my daily life and in the lives of others.  I feel it testing me when I least expect it.   I cannot be separate from it.  That’s how important it is to me.

Ed.: One last question. Are there any future projects you would like to tell us about, things that we could promote on your behalf?

I’ve already talked about Black Water.  There is a film called Hollywood and Wine, which could be quite funny and a cartoon-type film called, Daze, which could be quite funny, too, and interesting, coming out next year.  The problem we face is the same as the rest of the globe – the economy.  Editing money is drying up for independent films.  Cross your fingers for us and I will cross my fingers for all of you.  Let’s get through this!  It will be a true test of faith for all of us.

Ed.: This is not a question really.  You may like to say something about your husband. Please feel free to.  You are an amazing couple.

Leslie: How nice of you to say so.  We have a terrific marriage and it took us years and years to find each other.  He is truly the answer to my prayers. His name is Dan Wilcox and he is a television writer.  He has won Emmy’s and Writer’s Guild Awards for his contributions to Captain Kangaroo, Sesame Street, Mash, Newhart, The Cosby Show, Growing Pains and The Jeff Foxworthy Show.

That’s a list of some of his shows.  There are more. He’s writing a pilot for a new Internet series, presently.  It’s about a troubled young man, but will have plenty of action. He’s been on the Board of Director’s of the Writers Guild for the past 6 years and has headed numerous committees before, during and after their strike this past year.  He’s still frantically trying to finish some post strike issues.  I feel he is one of the main reasons the guild did so well in their negotiations.  Their efforts opened doors for the rest of us in sister unions.  Personally, I hope SAG does not vote to strike at this time.  Again – the economy!

He is not a religious man, but he lives by the strictest moral code I’ve ever known.  He respects my religious beliefs totally and he is an inspiration to me and to everyone he comes in contact with. He’s smart, generous, talented, giving, gracious, wise, and, most importantly, a fabulous chef!

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