Category Archives: Ask Stacy by Stacy Jenel Smith

The Ask Stacy column

Ask Stacy for May 9

DEAR STACY:  Whatever happened to the plans for Janet Jackson to do a movie playing Lena Horne? – Terry B., Cedar Rapids, IA

DEAR TERRY:  Apparently you missed the stormy weather when Horne, now 92, made it clear she wanted no part of Jackson’s portrayal after Janet’s breast-baring Super Bowl moment back in 2004.  She and her daughter asked ABC not to allow Janet to portray her, and even though the network resisted, Janet willingly backed out.  Then producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan left the project in solidarity with Janet.  It’s too bad.  With a dramatic life story that spans the heyday of Harlem’s Cotton Club, Golden Era Hollywood, blacklisting, the Civil Rights Movement and on, the sensual singer-actress certainly warrants a bio-pic.  A stage musical about her, “Stormy Weather,” was mounted at the Pasadena Playhouse last year.   (The brilliant, iconic performer passed away the day of this posting, leaving an amazing legacy.)

DEAR STACY:  You see Ryan Seacrest everywhere, but I haven’t seen much about him personally.  I’m curious.  What is his background? – John M., Chattanooga, TN

DEAR JOHN:   The ubiquitous “American Idol” emcee/radio host/budding TV mogul (“Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” etc.), was born the day before Christmas in 1974.  He hails from Atlanta, GA, son of an attorney and a full-time mom.  There, he landed a job at radio station WSTR while still in high school – and continued with his on-air gig while attending the University of Georgia.  He landed his first TV show hosting job – ESPN’s “Radical Outdoor Challenge” – while still in college.  Aspiring toward a Merv Griffin-like career of hosting and producing television shows, Seacrest moved to L.A. in 1995.  He was hosting NBC’s “Saturday Night at the Movies” by 2000.  “American Idol” came along in ’02, and, of course, last year he signed a renewal on his “AI” deal for $45 million.  While there’s been much speculation about his romantic life and sexual orientation, Seacrest has said he simply doesn’t have time for relationships, and that when a past girlfriend and he split up after three and a half years, he just worked harder.

DEAR STACY:  How old is Mary Hart?  Have enjoyed watching her all these years.  Does she have any plans to retire? —  Angie S., Canton, OH

DEAR ANGIE:   The “Entertainment Tonight” anchor, 59, says she’s entertained the idea of stepping away from the microphone, but has realized over the last couple of years, “I’m not ready to call it quits.  I’m still having so much fun.  I love running into Leonardo Di Caprio, George Clooney, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  When you know people through the years, there’s a comfort level in your interactions and that’s fun.  In a sense, we’ve matured together.  And I enjoy the working with the people I see on a daily basis.”

DEAR STACY:  Can you tell me if and when “Burn Notice” is coming back? – Pat K., Woodland Hills, CA

DEAR PAT:  The popular Jeffrey Donovan-Gabrielle Anwar series returns June 3 on USA.

DEAR STACY:  What did they finally determine was the cause of Brittany Murphy’s death?  A friend of mine said it was a drug overdose. – M.L., Spokane, WA

DEAR M.L.:  The L.A. county coroner’s office found that the 32-year-old actress died last December primarily of pneumonia.  However, she was also found to have been suffering anemia and multiple drug intoxication from an assortment of over-the-counter and prescription medications used to treat colds and respiratory infections.  All the medications were legal.  Noted the coroner’s report, “The possible adverse physiological effects of elevated levels of these medications cannot be discounted, especially in her weakened state.”

ASK STACY: What, When, Where on Anthony LaPaglia

DEAR STACY:  We are so upset that “Without a Trace” was cancelled.  We faithfully watched the show and loved the cast, especially Anthony La Paglia.  Please tell us about him.  We know he is married to an actress, but we don’t know her name or whether she was ever on the show or any other.  Will he go back to Australia?  — The Jolly Girls of B’klyn

Anthony LaPaglia  CBS photo

Anthony LaPaglia CBS photo

DEAR GIRLS: Adelaide-born LaPaglia and Sydney-born wife Gia Carides have a home in Santa Monica, CA, where they reside with their daughter Bridget, but spend a considerable amount of time in New York and Australia.  Carides (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”) met LaPaglia while making the 1994 Australian movie “Lucky Break.” She played the mother of a missing teen in an April 2005 episode of “Without a Trace.”  LaPaglia’s post-“Murder One” projects include the Australian film “Balibo,” a political thriller about five TV journalists killed by Indonesian troops in East Timor in 1975.   He also has the comedy/romance “Overnight” in the can.

DEAR STACY:  Are they making another season of “Secret Life of a Call Girl”? If so, when will it be on? – Pat K., Spokane, WA

Billie Piper  Showtime photo

Billie Piper Showtime photo

DEAR PAT:  The British import starring Billie Piper as the title upscale prostitute began shooting its third season back at the beginning of the year – with Piper back in shooting shape following the October, 2008 birth of her son, Winston, with actor husband Laurence Fox (son of James Fox).  Showtime has already picked it up for airing sometime next year, but no specific debut date has been set.

DEAR STACY: Is Kimberly Estrada of “Easy Money” the daughter of Erik Estrada? – Kelly F., Dearborn Hgts., MI

DEAR KELLY: No, the one-time “CHiPs” star’s daughter is Francesca and she’s just nine years old.  (He also has two grown sons).  Kimberly Estrada, 37, is Eurasian – father Spanish, mother Chinese.  She was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Maryland

DEAR STACY: Is Stone Cold Steve Austin going to make any more movies? – Roger W., Bronx, NY

The Expendibles

The Expendables

DEAR ROGER:  Yes, although the retired wrestler met with disappointment when his starring film vehicle, “The Condemned” failed to live up to expectations at the box office, he’s gone on to star in the upcoming “Damage” – which has to do with the underground fight scene – and play as part of the ensemble Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables.”  The latter, shot in New Orleans, Los Angeles and Brazil, is about a group of mercenaries and has a supercharged cast including Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Terry Crews and Davdi Zayas, with cameo appearances including Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Both movies are due in 2010.

DEAR STACY: Whatever became of the tiny, beautiful and talented Pia Zadora? – Mario G., West Haven, CT

DEAR MARIO: Zadora, 55, retired and living in L.A., turns up every so often – as in a not-so-flattering paparazzi photo snapped when she was out dining last year, posted on  She sold Pickfair a few years ago for a reported $17, 650,000 to a Korean businessman.  You may recall the flap back when she and her first husband, Meshulam Riklis, bought the landmark Beverly Hills property formerly owned by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks and had the mansion demolished.   She and second husband Jonathan Kaufer, divorced in 2001 after six years of marriage.  Her son and daughter by Riklis are now grown.  Her son by Kaufer is 12.

DEAR STACY: Whatever became of Juliet Prowse?  Nobody danced like that leggy lady. – Phil G., Cedar Rapids, IA

DEAR PHIL:   The beauty whose dancing was once labeled “immoral” by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev – and who appeared in numerous TV shows and films including “Can-Can” and “G.I. Blues” — died of pancreatic cancer at age 59, in 1996.

Eugene Cussons   Animal Planet Photo

Eugene Cussons Animal Planet Photo

DEAR STACY:  Can you tell me something about Eugene Cussons of Animal Planet’s “Escape to Chimp Eden”?  It’s an amazing show. – Curt B., Bloomfield, N.J.

DEAR CURT: A native of the Mpumalanga region of South Africa, Cussons grew up in a family with a passion for conservation, who own a game reserve.  He studied economics and business management at the University of Pretoria and went on to a successful corporate career as a developer of financial trading software, etc.  Then he decided that, as he put it, he wanted to be part of something bigger than himself – and acted on his knowledge that the world’s dwindling chimpanzee population needs help.  He established his Chimpanzee Eden – where he lives with wife Natasha and baby daughter Haley – in 2006, in collaboration with the Jane Goodall Institute, for which he serves as Rescue Director.  The rugged outdoorsman, born in 1979, is a sky diver, a scuba diver, and off-road driver — and certainly courageous.  He’s ventured into dangerous places including war-torn Sudan and Angola to save chimps.  More show information is available at the Animal Planet website, at

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Ask Stacy: The 411 on ‘Mad Men’s’ Sam Page

Sam Page in his 'Shark' days

Sam Page in his 'Shark' days

DEAR STACY: Please give some background on Sam Page, who was so effective in the role of Dr. Greg Harris on “Mad Men.” I’d like to see more of him. – Grace R., NY, NY

DEAR GRACE: If things had gone a little differently, handsome, single, 32-year-old Page could have been an environmental scientist, for he holds a degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton.  His senior thesis, about the mating habits of the female mosquitofish, was published in a scientific journal.  He also played baseball for Princeton, in addition to playing football, ice hockey, golf and tennis in his school years.  The acting bug took hold in his senior year, and once he graduated, the Wisconsin-born Page was off to Hollywood.  His career was launched via filmmaker David DeCoteau, who cast Page in the movies Micro Mini Kids,” “Prison of the Dead,” and “The Brotherhood.” On the TV side, Page amassed credits on such shows as “7th Heaven” and “Popular.” He had a recurring role on “American Dreams,” a stint on daytime’s “All My Children,” and regular roles on Fox’s supernatural drama, “Point Pleasant,” and CBS’s James Woods legal series “Shark.” He has a horror movie called “Slave” due out on DVD this summer.

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ASK STACY: Cuomo, Schwarzenegger Related?

DEAR STACY: Could you please tell me if Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Christopher Cuomo from “Good Morning America” are cousins through marriage? – Mrs. Lillian S., Smithtown, NY

DEAR LILLIAN:  No.  Christopher’s older brother Andrew used to be married to Mary Kerry Kennedy, one of Robert F. Kennedy’s daughters, and a cousin of Maria Shriver (daughter of Eunice Kennedy Shriver), who is married to Schwarzenegger.

ASK STACY: What’s New With Michael Beach?

DEAR STACY: What is Michael Beach up to lately? I always enjoy him in the movies and on TV, but I haven’t seen him since he was on “Brothers and Sisters.” – Karla T., Bronx, NY

DEAR KARLA: The one-time “Third Watch” star was seen this past March in the Hallmark Channel’s “Relative Stranger” movie alongside his former Julliard classmate and “ER” alumnus Eriq LaSalle. He’s in the upcoming Chris Klein comedy movie “Play Dead,” and the forthcoming big screen indie, “Pastor Brown.” Rockmond Dunbar directed and costars in that family drama about a woman (Salli Richardson) asked by her dying father to take over as pastor of his large Atlanta congregation.