Tag Archives: Tanna Frederick

Melissa Gilbert Credits Back Surgeon for Her ‘DWTS’ Try

Melissa Gilbert

Former child star Melissa Gilbert credits her back surgeon for the fact she’s become one of this coming season’s contestants on “Dancing With the Stars” — and not just because he healed her broken back.  “It actually started with him, because my final day [of post-operative appointments] was the day that Jennifer Grey won.  He’s her surgeon too,” recounts the amiable actress.  “He started saying, ‘Now YOU need to do it.’  I said, ‘I’m glad you think my back is healed enough so that I can do that.  If I injure myself, though, you have to operate for free,’ and he laughed.”

You can count on the show highlighting her story of conquering tough physical challenges.  As you may recall, Melissa toured the country through much of 2008 and 2009, playing Ma Ingalls in the popular stage musical version of Little House on the Prairie.  For months, she was in extreme discomfort, but somehow, she finished the tour.  When she returned home and went to the doctor, “I found I had broken my back.  I knew the disc was herniated.  I didn’t know the back was actually broken.  If I had, I’m sure the

doctors would have said ‘Don’t go.’

“After the surgery, it was a really long recovery, and I didn’t get cleared to work really until February of 2011.”  Gilbert, who has written about her past battles with alcholism, enlisted the help of Dr. Drew Pinsky to guide her as she dealt with her intense post-surgery pain, due to her concern she might become addicted to opiates.  She would take her Dilauded, Percocet and muscle relaxers, and then take two days away from the pills “and just tough it out.”

By summer, she was pain-free.  And, “There’s nothing I can’t do.  I can do Pilates.  I can run.  I can jump.  I can do yoga.  I can do whatever I am asked to do.”  Including “Dancing With the Stars”!

There’ve been rumors — and tabloid stories — of her taking on the show before.  Last year also saw the breakup of her 16-year marriage to Bruce Boxleitner, and “The National Enquirer wrote some ridiculous story about me healing my heart by doing ‘Dancing With the Stars.’   They had me studying tape of other stars who had done it — which was funny, because at the time I was shooting my movie at the time,” she says, referring to last December’s Hallmark Channel movie, “The Christmas Pageant.”

As for why she’s taking on the show, Melissa tells us: “It’s just because it seems like a real challenge for me.  And you know me — if something scares me, I’m gonna do it, and this kind of scares me because I’m now part titanium.”

IF YOU ASK US:  It’s been a tough year for Oscar.  This year’s show was book-ended by the Los Angeles Times expose that delineated the Academy membership as 94 per cent white, 77 per cent male, and with a median age of 62 — and the New York Times piece that laid out a variety of indicators showing that the Oscar show’s glory days are over.  (And the ultra hard-campaigning Harvey Weinstein’s relatively little-seen films winding up at the forefront of the Oscars again and again hasn’t helped ratings.)   Scathing reviews such as the Hollywood Reporter’s “Oscars Become Badly Paced Bore-Fest” had to have hurt — and a little extra salt in the wound came in Forbes’ report that Best Original Screenplay winner Woody Allen not only wasn’t present, he watched the NBA All Star Game instead.  Of course, with Woody, nobody was surprised.

The rest of America — businesses and individuals alike — has had to get used to once-unthinkable cutbacks, shakeups and forced reinvention to survive in these tough times.  Now it’s the Academy’s turn.   Most obviously, it’s time to take the craft awards out of the primetime Oscar show — and to make a concerted effort to diversify membership.  Take all the negativity surrounding the 84th Oscars and use the energy for positive, deep and meaningful change, not just a few more young faces on the show.  It can work!  After all, America, like Hollywood, loves a good comeback story.

Barbara Bain

HELLO, AGAIN:  Esteemed veteran actress Barbara Bain is enjoying her turn in Claire Chaffee’s comedy, Why We Have a Body as directed by cast mate Tanna Frederick.  “It’s an extraordinarily heightened approach, a bit like a cartoon — fanciful.  It makes me think of Terry Gilliam’s films,” says the actress, who rose to fame as the sexy and soignee spy Cinnamon Carter in the original “Mission: Impossible.”  She adds, “It’s hard to believe this is Tanna’s first directing job.  My reaction was kind of, ‘Wow, look at what she’s done with this material.’  I was very impressed.”  That’s saying a lot, particularly since Bain has been spending much of her time in recent years directing plays as well as acting in them.

Bain is playing the globe-trotting, not-so-wonderful mother of two grownup daughters who are going through turbulent times in Why We Have a Body,  which is running at Santa Monica’s Edgemar Center for the Arts through April 8.  One daughter’s a career criminal, the other is married, but having a lesbian affair.

Meanwhile, she’s also in the indie film “Nothing Special” with Karen Black, about a woman trying to have a normal life while dealing with bipolar illness.  The film’s awaiting a distributor.  And she has a series of six one-act plays at the Beverly Hills Playhouse ahead on her agenda.

Tanna Frederick: ‘M Word’ Feature Dramedy Hits New Menopause Territory


Times have SO changed from that “very special episode” of “The Waltons,” when Mama was acting a mite peculiar on account of the change of life.  Production has just wrapped on Henry Jaglom’s feature dramedy “The M Word” — and star Tanna Frederick says, “It will be like our first step on the moon of menopause stories.  It deals with everything having to do with our ovaries and then some.  M is for menopause, menses and men.”

Frances Fisher plays her mother who moves in with her after her mate (Gregory Harrison) is caught cheating.  Two aunts (Mary Crosby, Eliza Fisher) move into Tanna’s character’s two-bedroom apartment as well 

“Henry is not commenting on menopause, he’s taking you along for a ride,” she says of the director with whom she made “Hollywood Dreams” and other films, who is known for his improvisational work with actors.  “He really let the three women playing my aunts fly, and let them go into their own experiences with menopause.  They took it to a fever pitch that’s really funny.  We got some powerful stuff that I think will spark some groundbreaking talks between women and men.”

Well, at least it sounds as if Fisher’s performance will spark talk.   “She is hilarious.  At one point in a scene, she took the frozen turkey that she had for the family Thanksgiving and put it between her legs because she was having a hot flash,” Tanna says.  “I stepped back and said, ‘I don’t even know what to do with this.'”

 Tanna’s TV reporter character is fighting the closure of her station.  Her smarmy Sammy Glick-type boyfriend is played by Corey Feldman, and the corporate hatchet man who comes out to cut station staff is Michael Imperioli — who, of course, her character falls for. 

“Always in the past, Henry has sort of tiptoed around around the socioeconomic status of his characters.  In this, he dove right in.  It’s scary and sad what’s going on out there with all the cutbacks in jobs,” comments the actress.  “My character is faced with this question: Do I fall in love, or do I fight for what’s right?”  She reports that at one point she has a scene “that’s probably as close to a ‘Norma Rae’ moment as I’ll ever have,” leading a group of some 30 women in an office.  Women who are all, you guessed it, menopausal.

‘Bachelor Pad’ Pair Join Stars Participating in Tanna Frederick’s Project SOS: Surf 24 Celeb Surfathon

Shaun Tomson, Tanna Frederick

“Bachelor Pad” pair Kasey Kahl and Vienna Girardi are among the personalities who’ll be out in the surf, on behalf of the surf, at this year’s Project SOS: Surf 24 Celebrity Surfathon Oct. 15-16 in Santa Monica.  Tate Donovan, Jesse Spencer, Gregory Harrison, “Mad Men’s” John Slattery, Chad Lowe, Zoe Bell and more will be out on the waves as well.

“We’ve got more and more celebrities coming,” reports Tanna Frederick, the “Hollywood Dreams” star who co-founded the event with former world champion surfer Shaun Tomson — and who puts countless hours into it each year.  “I love doing Project Save Our Surf.  It’s a huge insane workload, but one of the most graifying things I’ve ever done in my life.”

Says Frederick, “This year, we have a big emphasis on kids and kids’ activities, and first-time surfers event.  The winner gets an iPad, which I think is pretty cool.”  She adds, “We have a lot of activities spread out over the two days — African Drum Circles, kite flying, free food….There’ve been a lot of misconceptions about this being just a surfer event.  It’s not.  It’s for the whole community.”

However, celebrities who surf and famous surfers are still a draw for the event that raises funds and awareness for eco-minded charities.  “I think when there’s something like this that’s fun and celebratory of the environment, people are more likely to participate and conserve and preserve the oceans,” enthuses the energetic red-haired actress.  “I think it creates better energy than, you know, panicking about our situation, which is another way to go.”