While the "White Collar" team is busy creating episodes of their sophisticated crime dramedy, off-camera their set is becoming something of a romper room. At least, that's the feeling one gets listening to Tiffani Thiessen, whose six-month-old daughter, Harper, is the latest addition to the tiny visitor contingent.
"There are a lot of people on our show who have kids. She's definitely the newest one. I think they love having her energy around the set. It's fun. I think we're going to have a little playroom/nursery when we go back into production," says the actress, who plays the smart wife of an FBI man (Tim DeKay) on the popular series that also stars Matt Bomer as a reformed, debonair thief. They'll resume work in March for the show's third season. "White Collar" returns to the USA Network schedule with part two of Season 2 on Jan. 18.
It wasn't easy going back to work six-and-a-half weeks after giving birth, Thiessen admits. "I missed everyone, but I was not real excited about going back. It was definitely challenging. You're kind of like a walking zombie, tired all the time. I'm nursing, so my mom would come to the set and take care of her while I was working. The show has been amazing. They gave me time whenever I had to nurse her. I'm really blessed to have had so much understanding and a lot of great help. I have to give credit where it's due -- I couldn't have done it without help from my mom and my husband (actor Brady Smith)."
Right now, Thiessen's attention is on Harper's first Christmas and "all the things you've got to do -- the cheesy photos with Santa, the Christmas tree," she notes happily. The Smiths will spend "half our Christmas in California with my family, and half in Texas with his," she adds.
There's also Thiessen's new entrepreneurial sideline: Petit Nest, the baby furnishings line, including, she says, "cribs, dressers, chairs, gliders, decorative art and things like bedding and linens."
"When I was designing my own nursery ... I realized there was not a lot out there that appealed to (my) tastes," she says.
All of which might lead one to think the one-time "Saved by the Bell" and "Beverly Hills, 90210" cutie has a baby-centric mindset these days. And that's just fine with her. "She's the light of my life," she says of Harper. "I fall in love with her more every day."
FAMILY TRADITIONS: Speaking of families and holidays, Andy Garcia reports it will be a big family gathering this Christmas for him and his kin. "We take our holidays very seriously. We have 30 people over for Thanksgiving every year, and celebrate Christmas with our extended family members. We have four kids," reminds the actor, whose grown daughters, Dominik and Daniella, have already followed him into the acting realm.
Indeed, acting is quite the family affair in the Garcia clan. Speaking of 19-year-old college student Alessandra and 8-year-old son Andres, he notes, "In school, they always take story theater and that kind of thing. They're exposed to the theater. I think that being comfortable performing in front of people is very good for their self-esteem. My oldest daughters did that from a very early age. Now they're obviously colleagues. We've done two movies together," he says, referring to his "City Island" and "The Lost City."
He adds, "As a proud father, it's always good to look across the dining room table and see your child there is happy and being fulfilled."
PILOT TIME: Interesting that "SHREDD," the proposed series about real-life skateboarders, is being preceded by a pilot that is a mere 11 minutes long. Next thing you know, we'll be seeing two-minute pilots or even 30-second pilots. It's the economy, of course, and heck, wouldn't want anyone to work too hard.
They're rounding out the cast of another pilot, for "Dead Time Stories," an anthology of tales referred to as "cool, creepy and fun" -- but not too horrible for the tween set and older.