Tag Archives: Sharon Lawrence

Sharon Lawrence Talks About Body Image Challenges In and Out of Hollywood

sharon lawrence starving in sub

“Starving in Suburbia” debuts on Lifetime tonight

The potentially deadly consequences of eating disorders have been well known for decades, but that knowledge hasn’t made a dent in the incidence of anorexia and bulimia. “Starving in Suburbia,” Lifetime’s new movie about a teenage dancer in a down spiral of affliction, sheds light on a sickening twist that has been added with the advent of online communities that “encourage each other in this destructive, self-inflicted illness” as Sharon Lawrence, who plays a therapist in the film, puts it.

The well-spoken actress, who gained four Emmy nominations between her roles as Sylvia Costas Sipowicz in “NYPD Blue” and as Izzie Stevens’ mother in “Grey’s Anatomy,” tells us she was eager to join the “Starving in Suburbia” cast for several reasons. One of those was writer-director Tara Miele.

“I love supporting female filmmakers. It goes along with my work with the Los Angeles chapter of Women in Film. When I can support a female filmmaker, I’ll work very hard to make that happen,” she says.

Another reason: “I read the script and was so impressed by what Tara had written. It was created in such a clear and artistic way. It’s not easy to get both qualities to work together, but she has done that,” notes Lawrence of the movie that has moments the grow darkly surreal.

Laura Slade Wiggins of “Shameless” stars as the troubled teenage dancer Hannah. “She is somebody I admire so much,” Lawrence says. “You realize she has a depth of capacity for the sensitive nature of a role like this — and she has the professional skill to play such a demanding role in such a short amount of time we had to shoot it. I think we had 18 days. I’m sure Tara would say she would not have felt comfortable proceeding without an actress of Laura’s caliber.”

Of course, Hollywood — show business — is notably full of people struggling with eating disorders, or at least extremely questionable dietary habits, in their relentless pursuit of acceptably thin bodies. But Lawrence believes that the problem is “rife everywhere, not just in our industry.” It’s not only performers who find themselves attacked by haters on the internet if they gain a few pounds, says Lawrence. “It’s cheerleaders in high school, it’s dancers in competitions. Body image is one of the biggest challenges that face young women today. This knows no socio-economic boundaries. I don’t know that it’s as prevalent in other cultures, but our American culture is such a blend of access and imbalance.”

It’s hard to imagine, but drawn from reality — girls compete online to see who can get the thinnest. Lawrence has a positive take on that, however. “I’m grateful that they’ve sort of declared themselves, because that’s part of what brought it to the light.”

In the wake of a well-reviewed run with Bruce Davison in Noel Coward’s A Song at Twilight at the Pasadena Playhouse, Lawrence has a string of projects coming out that are related to issues she cares deeply about: Besides “Starving in Suburbia,” there’s the feature “Grace,” that deals with alcoholism. It recently debuted at the Nashville Film Festival. “That’s a beautiful story about recovery and the recovery community,” she says. Now being unveiled at the Newport Film Festival in California is “Una Vida,” a movie that “is really letting the community that’s affected by Alzheimer’s not just tell their story, but seek support and hope.”

Lawrence says she can’t remember a time “when all my interests have coalesced this way.”

On top of that, there is her Amazon Studios series, “The After,” a post-apocalyptic thriller created by Chris Carter. She smiles at mention of the show.

“We shot the pilot, which is still available on Amazon. The Amazon users watched and chimed in as to whether they wanted to see more,” she recounts. It turned out that “The After” was one of four series picked up for this new-fangled enterprise, in which the online sales giant is offering up its own productions.

“It’s great — not just as a new model for how the gatekeepers are shifting with control over what will find its way to the public,” she comments, “but also, I believe that the public will have influence over the way these shows will spool out. The viewers may have input as we shoot the rest of the episodes. It will be interesting to see how filmmakers like Chris Carter incorporate that.

“I’m so happy to have more outlets for material like this. This is a compelling show,” she continues. “It’s about eight strangers who are trapped in a parking garage when a very odd and deadly phenomenon strikes Los Angeles, and we are left to our own devices to survive. I’m thrilled at this kind of storytelling. And it’s a challenge particularly for me, because I play an 80-year-old woman.

“It’s interesting, not only to find the emotionality, but the physicality — not only to go through the prosthetic makeup process, but to find how this character walks and talks and speaks and breathes and all these things,” she says.

For a woman who in real life is a lovely and beautifully-maintained 52-year-old, that is quite a change indeed. As they say, that’s why they call it acting.

Tracy Morgan: No Response From Family to His Autobiography

Tracy Morgan NBC photo

Tracy Morgan NBC photo

Tracy Morgan is back at work on “30 Rock” this week after doing the full court press for his “I Am the New Black” autobiography. The book has won widespread acclaim for its surprisingly serious, yet inspirational tone as the funnyman traces his life from a bleak inner-city childhood, his ex-heroin addict father’s AIDS death, his crack-dealing, his best friend’s murder.What’s been the response from his family?

“I haven’t gotten any responses. It’s going to take years for people in my family to get their hands on it,” says the seven-year “Saturday Night Live” veteran. “They probably don’t even know I wrote a book.”

He admits, “When I talk about my dad dying, I still get emotional and I cry. Or my brother’s legs,” he says of his disabled sibling. “It’s pretty intense.” For all that he reveals, he says, “That’s just the tip of the iceberg. You don’t know the half.”

For now, though, he’s having to “get beyond the seriousness of my life and get back to the funny.” Tracy has a full plate of comedy work and then some, with not only “30 Rock,” but hosting chores on the Syfy Channel’s “Scare Tactics,” toplining the New York Comedy Festival Nov. 6 at Carnegie Hall, and two movies. Those are the April release “Death at a Funeral” with Chris Rock, and his untitled Kevin Smith February release comedy with Bruce Willis that used to be known as “A Couple of Dicks.”

“How you do it is, you just breathe,” Morgan says. “Whatever it is you’re doing, don’t do stuff around it. Now, I will focus with precision on what I’m going to do onstage. God gives us all 24 hours in a day to mind our business.”

ROWDY INDEED: “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” is bringing in the big guns this week as popular 80’s icon, pro wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper, is making a guest appearance as the gang decides to put on a wrestling show for the returning troops. Creator and star Rob McElhenney tells us they’re picky about their guest stars, but Piper hit it out of the park.

“It was absolutely amazing. We wrote this part for a wrestler and we weren’t sure if we should get a really great actor or a really great wrestler. Then, we found Roddy who was both,” says McElhenney of the episode airing tonight (10/29).

“We always try to bring interesting guest cast in. We have a lot of people who are interested in doing guest spots, but we don’t want to go too super famous with it. We feel like we already did that with Danny,” he notes of co-star Danny DeVito. “We like that the show feels a little bit gritty and dark. We want to keep it interesting in that you never know what you’re going to get.”

McElhenney, who created the show with friends Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day, tells us there’s a lot more in store for Season 5, and luckily, they’ve already been given a contract through Season 7. The guys are just glad that fans have picked up on what they’ve known all along.

“We saw the potential from day one and knew it could be a successful show. I think that’s an important factor in having a career specifically in Hollywood because there is so much backed against you. The odds are not in your favor so you have to have confidence and belief in what you’re doing. Otherwise, you get swallowed up by the machine.” Thank goodness they figured out the machine!

‘COMMUNITY’ MINDED: Uh-oh. Sharon Lawrence will be showing up on “Community” in coming weeks as “Chevy Chase’s girlfriend. My character is unique; she’s an escort, but she’s his girlfriend and it’s not a business relationship,” explains Sharon. “He admires and respects her business sense.”

The former “NYPD Blue” actress has been having a blast with guest shots this season, on shows including “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Drop Dead Diva.” Of the latter, she notes, “We’ll see what happens with my character on that show. Whether I come back depends on the storyline. I play the dead diva’s mother. But we’re talking about it.”

First up for Sharon is this Sunday’s (11/1) 17th Annual Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk in downtown Los Angeles, beginning at the Watercourt at California Plaza. Celebs including Michael Chiklis, Ken Howard, Bryan Cranston, Leeza Gibbons and Lea Thompson are expected to be among some 4,000 participants aiming to raise more than $750,000.

“The walk is a great chance for those of us who have a real, personal connection to Alzheimer’s to raise awareness, and it also creates a community of support,” notes Sharon, whose grandmother died of the disease. “My mother was her primary caregiver.”

She adds, “You know, Alzheimer’s keeps growing in numbers, although it’s easy to hide this in a way. A lot of people who are dealing with it are not out in the world. These walks allow us to come together and have the fellowship of people who’ve gone through this before.”

REUNITING AND IT FEELS GOOD: Those who enjoyed the Lisa Kudrow-Mira Sorvino 1997 hit movie “Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion” may be tantalized to learn that there’s a stage musical of the tale of those two wayward gals on the way and, yes, we could be looking at a Romy & Michelle on Broadway down the line.

The project, under the auspices of the La Jolla Playhouse’s artistic director Christopher Ashley, goes into rehearsal for a reading next month. Music and lyrics are by Brandon Jay and Gwendolyn Sanford.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster