Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Soundbytes: Candy B

Candice Bergen as Judge Amanda Aderlee
Law & Order: Trial by Jury via NBC Universal

Pastis is at the corner of Ninth Ave and Little West 12th, in the heart of the Meatpacking District. Conveniently it's just three blocks from the flat, so it's a good bet you could catch me there. It's also one of the better places to people watch and gawk at celebrities, especially while dining al fresco in the summer. On a cool evening, you see everyone here, from supermodels to Ethan Hawke, Lenny Kravitz ... or Candice Bergen.

An early afternoon in May or June 2003. Picture me walking by Pastis on my way home from the gym, looking very Brooklyn meets Chelsea: baggy engineered Levis and matching jacket, spaghetti strap D&G tanktop. Chatting away on the cellie oblivious to everyone (Its all about me) and almost stumble into Candice Bergen's table. She and a lunch companion are looking oh-so-chic with their salads and Evian in glass bottles. "Why hello there," she smiled, that unmistakable voice at once putting me at ease. "I'm sorry, we should have pushed this table back some..."

That's how we met. She apologized, I apologized, her friend apologized, we laughed and chatted and they invited me to sit down. That's one thing I love about the city, you can meet almost anyone and they'll speak to you as an equal. But this was unexpected: she has an Academy Award and is making small talk with me...sweaty and coming from the gym? But it turns out that we knew people in common: at the time I was assigned to one of the network morning shows, and of ourse she knew the host.

Candice—we've bumped into each other twice since then, both times dining out, so it's Candice—has Eurocentic mannerisms. She's not loud or brash, and is quite personable. Needless to say, she started as a swingin' sixties girl and today is quite the icon. Best Supporting Actress nomination for Starting Over. Five Emmys and two SAG Awards for Murphy Brown. The first female to host Saturday Night Live.

A whole new generation re-discovered the fabulous actress in Sex and the City where she had a recurring role. Bergen's character debuted in Season Four, A 'Vogue' Idea. Her patrician demeanor was perfect as icy Vogue editor Enid Frick. SATC fans will remember that episode: Carrie turns in her first article for Vogue and editor Enid Frick was not impressed—saying she wanted more punch, and "less Carrie Bradshaw." (Who didn't?) But it worked out and we saw more Enid Frick (and much more Carrie Bradshaw) through seasons four, five and six.

I'm lovin' the fact that Candice's career continues to trend north. We can see her not once, not twice but up to three times weekly on the small screen. Sunday nights she has a pivotal new role on Boston Legal, as Shirley Schmidt, the new managing partner. Wednesdays and Fridays catch her in a recurring role on Law & Order and the new spinoff Law & Order: Trial by Jury.

Candice began that crossover role at the beginning of this season in the original L&O, an episode titled The Brotherhood. In another ripped from the headlines plot, her Judge Anderlee character was targeted by white supremacists. The storyline was based on the tragic circumstances surrounding Chicago federal judge Joan Lefkow; white supremacist leader Matthew Hale targeted her for death, and apparently in unrelated circumstances, another man killed her husband and mother-in-law on February 28.

Bergen's presence is a natural for the role: serene, commanding yet charsimatic, exactly what you'd expect in a judge. Apparently, the producers at Dick Wolf Films had their eyes on her and it's been a match made in heaven.

Law & Order: Trial by Jury: Friday 10/9c (NBC)
Sex and the City: Sunday 8/7c (HBO)
Law & Order: Wednesday 10/9c (NBC)
Boston Legal: Sundays 10/9c (ABC)