Posted tagged ‘ER’

She’s Back!

August 1, 2010

My husband doesn’t understand it.  My children just roll their eyes.  Sorry people, but I have to gush…just a bit.  Just have to swell with just a little bit of excitement.

My favorite actress is back!

Not that she was really gone.  Her character left ER in the episode written just for her – ‘The Book of Abby’ – in October of 2008.  Abby and Luka moved to Boston.  She returned for a small cameo seventeen episodes later giving Paraminder Nagra’s ‘Neela’  a reassuring nudge to leave Chicago.  Then she was gone….from television. 

Talk about quitting cold turkey.  Not her.  Me.

I was used to getting spoiler alerts, google alerts, tweets and bits and pieces about ‘ER’ in general…..but Maura Tierney specifically.  I had been a fan of hers since….well….forever.   I even tripped totally out of my comfort zone and took my two personal business days in SEPTEMBER (I am a Teacher, remember?) to fly to New York to see her perform in an off Broadway play.  Even got to meet her while I was there….twice!  And now, there was nothing.

While she was off relaxing, recouping and living her ‘regular’ life, there were a legion of fans (and I know this is true as I am privy to several web groups of fans) watching….and waiting …..for her next project.

There was a flurry of excitement with the news that she would be part of the cast of ‘Parenthood’ – NBC’s newest series in development.  The cast was phenominal with Maura at it’s center playing ‘Sarah Braverman’, single mom of 2 teens who moves back into the family fold.  A dysfunctional family fold.  I was so excited at the prospect of a regular dose of her talent again….and even more intrigued at the thought of seeing her ply acting chops with Mae Whitman – another favorite – who was cast as her daughter.

A pilot was shot, publicity rounds started and things began to leak out about the show.  Most of the critics gave the pilot a so-so rating but all of them said that Maura’s performance was a highlight….giving the show promise.  All was well in my little world and I was looking forward to the all season.

Then devastating news that Maura would be leaving the show because of a health issue.  A health issue that required surgery and subsequent treatment.  Maura Tierney had breast cancer.

You can imagine the frustration of the production team.  What to do now?  Their show was set.  Scripts written.  And one of their stars was going AWOL.  Unofficial word from someone who worked on the set via someone on one of the web boards was that the production team was willing to wait out the surgery and support the treatment plan.  Word was they were attempting to force her to honor her contract.  But she held her ground (not wanting that particular period in her life to be filmed in HD…who can blame her?) and in the end, they let her go.  They recast the part and the show continued.  It was one of the hits of midseason….and definitely a ‘different’ kind of show than it would have been had she stayed.  My sister loves it.  

Sigh.

And once again I – we – were reduced to waiting for bits and pieces of news.  And there was nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Until December.

That is when Joe Tierney, former Boston Councilman and Maura Tierney’s father, died of cancer.  A surprise to the general public, I think.  Followed shortly by the news that Maura Tierney would be joining the cast of  ‘North Atlantic’ by theater’s eccentric Wooster Group.   Even before the production went into rehearsal there were bits and pieces…and once rehearsals started – pictures!  Grainy, clandestine pictures.  When the show started there were ‘reviews’ and updates and pictures from web friends.  One particularly special internet buddy was able to see the show in Los Angeles (where she goes to school) AND New York (where she was participating in a school sponsored program)….twice!  The gods were with her and the timing worked out.  Lucky.

But  now, Lady Luck has struck again – for all of us.  Maura Tierney will be returning to weekly television in September…this time with ABC’s ‘The Whole Truth.’  She will be trading her emergency room scrubs for stylish suits as an officer of the court.  Somehow, I think her dad would approve.  And being the lover of legal eagle television that I am, I will be watching.

And that is….’The Whole Truth.’

Welcome back, Maura.  You have been missed.

Maura Tierney as ‘Kathryn Peale’

FanFiction.Net

June 28, 2010

I am not quite sure how I happened upon FanFiction.net.  I think I was reading something written by someone else that I found at a fan site.  All I know and understand is that this web site kicked my long dormant writing needs back into high gear.  I had been floundering as a writer.  And as geeky and as wierd as this post may sound to the ‘normal’ reader and/or writer, I will be forever grateful.

I have written before about my long standing fixation with the television show ‘ER’ and how difficult it was to break a 10 pm Thursday night ‘habit.’  I have written about taking a 3 day dream trip to NYC to see ER’s Maura Tierney strut her acting chops on stage.  And I have written about how important writing has been to me since I was a child.  I think – somewhere in these posts – I have written about original aspirations to be a television writer.  I am ALWAYS rewriting things other people have written if they don’t turn out to my satisfaction…..or if I want to know more.  And that is the case with Fanfiction.net.

You can choose a television show, movie, play, anime etc. to write about.  You can continue a story line or character you are intrigued with or you can invent your own.  You can write the back story of a situation or character to round it out in your own mind.  You can post your story for others to read.  Readers can post a review of your piece….or not.  At any rate, the program records the ‘hits’ on your story so you can see of people are reading it. 

And THAT is very intriguing. 

I wrote seventeen pieces for the ‘ER’ section of Fanfiction.net during a  two and a half year period.   There are a number of other things posted on various fan sites that were part of writing ‘competitions.’  (Writers are given the same perimeters and a set time to finish and post a piece to be voted on or judged.  It was fun to see the different perspectives that evolved in that manner.)  I experimented with different styles of writing, discovered a lot about myself as a writer and had a tremendous amount of fun.  I gathered a small circle of internet friends who also wrote for ‘ER’ – people who gave me advice, support and lots of positive feedback.

All of my fan fiction stories revolve around this couple:

Abby Lockhart and Luka Kovac

Brought to life by actors Maura Tierney and Goran Visnjic.

Writing for established characters is as easy as it is challenging – especially when you are working with characters as well played as these two.  You can picture them in your mind because you have seen them on screen.  You know their verbal inflections, their physical cues, their emotions, their history.  The trick is to stay in character and make your readers see the same things you do.  And its tricky.

Abby and Luka had  lived a hard scrabble life in Chicago from seasons 5 to 14.  Co-workers, lovers, ex-lovers, attached to others, unattached, co-workers, friends, lovers again, parents together and finally married, seperated by an ocean, seperated by a blackout, together again.  Both were gone by the third episode of season 15…..living happily ever after far from County General’s emergency room madness.  My first piece however, was written after the  episode ‘All About Christmas Eve’ in December of 2006 in which Abby – in the last few seconds of the show – informed Luka that she was pregnant   The series then went on a holiday hiatus.

For THREE weeks.

Without knowing what their outcome was going to be, and extremely frustrated about that, I began the story, The Things We Do, and posted chapter one on December 22nd.  Reviews were favorable and people were reading it.  I posted another chapter.  Three months and twenty one chapters later, it remains the most popular of all of my Fanfiction pieces.  I am not sure why.  Its the one I stumbled the most on.  And yet it offers a blissful Luby life that definitely did not play out on the show.  That happy Kovac family – an AU or ‘alternative universe’  story line – has been continued in The Rules of the Road, A Camper’s Guide to Family Fun and Christmas in Croatia.

While writing The Things We Do, I began to realize that there was a relationship that I wanted to see on the show and didn’t.  And that was a friendship between Abby and Susan Lewis.  So I started the story All We’ll Ever Need – continuing the AU story of Susan Lewis, her husband Chuck, their son Cosmo and her niece Susie.  I was writing both of them at the same time. 

Susan, as brought to life by actress Sherry Stringfield, is fun to write.  I love Susan.  I love her smile, her laugh, her snarky sense of humor, her self confidence, her attitude…..and her hair.  Even when its messy it looks good.

Seriously.

Her niece, Susie, was last seen on the show as an infant and heard on the phone as a 5 or six year old.  I imagined her into an incredibly bright and beautiful 13 year old and she has evolved from there.  Their story intersects with the Kovacs in Camper’s Guide, Christmas  in Croatia and plays out side by side in Duplex

Back stories fill in some of the ‘holes’ that a television drama is unable to spend time with.  Lockhart IS Better tells the story of Abby’s first marriage to Richard, who has popped up on the show at various times.  Letters From Luka is how I imagined his life before showing up on a boat.  Its basically a series of letters to and from his parents in Croatia as he travels through the Great Lakes on a sailboat.  I kind of lost my muse on that one.  It still needs a clear ending.  Wild Cat  began as a piece for a competition and the first chapter is about baseball and the Luby baby’s first birthday.  It has evolved into the back story of Abby’s parents – Maggie and Eddie.  It also needs to be finished.  I was having trouble writing about bi-polar symptoms and needed more research.

Sometimes a character serves as a stepping  off point also.  In Primary Colors the back story of a little girl from the season 12 episode, ‘The Human Shield’ intertwines with Abby and Luka’s.  Juliette Gogolia, played ‘Sydney’ a kidnap victim that was central to the entire episode and brought the Luby love story back into play.  My ‘hook’ was the use of primary colors interwoven through each of the seven chapters.  There was something red, yellow and green/blue mentioned in each of them.  Kinda cool to write…and a bit sad.

Another minor guest character in the episode, ‘No Place to Hide’ – Ruthie Poole – became a central character for Abby and Luka’s story about their life after ER.  The show moved Abby and Luka to Boston, where I picked up their story in This Time.  I really enjoyed writing this because it was fun to have the family created by the television writers carry on with their lives.  It was a place to write about some resolutions.  Especially between Abby and her mother – a television relationship created between Tierney and Sally Field.  It’s their ending as I imagined it to be.

When I was struggling with descriptive writing, I started the story Just Looking.  Its basically a series of scenarios in a day in the life of Luka and Abby that uses descriptions and just the words ‘just looking’ ‘ throughout.  It is an ongoing challenge….and fun.

My favorite story – and in my opinion the best one – was the fifth story I wrote for Fanfiction.net.  I started it after the season 12 climatic ender – 21 Guns.  If you didn’t see it – it was pretty spectacular.  The ER is shot up (Quentin Tarantino style), Luka is strapped to a gurney with a tube in his throat and a pregnant Abby is last seen passed out on the floor in a pool of blood.  That’s where they left fans for the SUMMER!  Spoiler information was still weeks away and I was going nuts.  Seriously nuts.  So I began writing a possible story line.  In Heartache,  I did the unthinkable.  I killed their baby.

I think I was the only fan fiction writer to take the leap and do it too.

I put almost 28,000 words into that 23 chapter story and got a whomping 135 reviews.  This doesn’t count the private e-mails I received before I removed my address from the site.  People were ready to lynch me.  How dare I imagine such a  sad end for a BABY????  The first chapter is a heartbreaker.  Then, like most of my work, it evolves into a study of a relationship that has gone through the worst and comes courageously out the other side.  It brings Abby and Luka full circle at County General.  It has also received a FanFiction ‘Hall of Fame’ award….and I love it.

Seventeen pieces at FanFiction.net have garnered me 211,762 internet ‘hits.’  I have accrued 804 reviews and am still getting them today….four years later.  And I am writing my own – original – stuff again.  I am creating characters and building scenarios and writing descriptions and designing my own plots.  And I have FanFiction.net to thank.

The website  is a fun place to ‘hang out’ if you have time on your hands.  Or if you like to read.  Or write.  There are over 5,000 ER stories posted there.  Glee has almost 7,000, Charmed has 12,000, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has 39,000 and Punky Brewster has 4.  And there are more categories for movies and books plays, games comics and animes.  Some written stories are outstanding and others are not.  All of them are someone’s attempt to share ideas……and write.

Leave a review for the writer.  It really does make our day.

As for me, I really need to work on The Mouse and the Mayflower again.  I have my families from the Duplex at Walt Disney World.  I keep seeing the esteemed Dr. Luka Kovac wearing a pair of Mickey Mouse ears…..or a Goofy hat.  Gotta go write about it.

Titles are links that should take you to the web site for that story.  Enjoy!

Christmas 2009…Part 5….Better and better…..

January 5, 2010

It wasn’t until the Sunday AFTER Christmas that all of her doctors and nurses consulted and were finally able to get my mother off her ventilator.  By that time the sedation had worn of…sort of.  She managed to maintain a steady oxygen level on her own.  She was fighting the vent.  So they did it.

And dang, if this tough old bird hadn’t used up ANOTHER of her nine lives.

She was hungry.  And she let everyone know it.  She wanted her Christmas presents.  And she let everyone know it.  And she wanted to see pictures……of what she had missed.

Her color was so much better.  Her demeanor, even more so.  She kidded with her doctors, teased her nurses and verbally sparred with all of her visitors.  THIS was the mother I knew best.  She was moved from the ICU to a step down room so it was easier for people to come and see her.  And remember that stint in the sleet while I was boldly protecting my guys from traffic as they changed a flat tire??  Gave HRH and I both a cold.  I was diligent about wearing a mask in my mother’s room so as to not compromise her precarious health.  Breathing in those very germs that I would usually have been fighting off.  Sniff…cough.  But, life was good.

Until our attention turned elsewhere…..

The Princess has suffered from asthma for about six years now.  Its usually seasonal.  Happens when there is an irritating change in her world.  She uses an inhaler and a nebulizer which generally accompanies us on overnights.  On rare occasions we need to se the doctor for steroids.  Heh.  Left her meds at home…..as we charged from cold and snowy midwestern winter to cool and damp southern winter.  Off we went to the ER – with my sister at the wheel – at the very hospital my mother was at.

For three hours we dealt with intake exams, albueterol treatments, prednesone pills and chest x-rays (to rule out pneumonia).  She totally charmed her nurse, the respiratory therapist, the x-ray technician (‘feel better sweetheart’…aww) and her very young, gorgeously tanned and handsome doctor who took one look at her tee shirt, shoes and clothes and asked if she liked color or something. : )  All the while she was playing with her i-pod touch and the hospital’s WiFi.  We did Bible verse searches where I managed to amaze her by pinpointing where a verse came from.  Thank you required Christian College Bible Classes!  And we had a blast sharing  our favorite scenes and lines from her new favorite movie – ‘Miss Congeniality’ with Sandra Bullock.  I seriously do NOT know how this one slipped by my tomboyish FBI agent wannabee.  She found a video tape in my parents’ collection and had watched it pretty continously in the prior days.  And just in case it slipped by you as well, the movie is about a tomboyish FBI agent turned beauty pageant contestant who manages to make friends and save the world from a mad bomber.  And you really haven’t enjoyed the movie till you have heard this 14 year old purr the Bullock lines  “You liiiikkkkke meeee….You want to daaaate me…..” and then chortle with laughter when she tells how Benjamin Bratt’s character unwraps a Snickers bar and stuffs it in his mouth in response.  Hilarious.

ER ……and me

April 2, 2009

Tonight it comes to an end.  After fifteen years.  Actually….I didn”t want to be caught up in the flood of blog entries that are probably going to follow this finale.  Maybe.  I had intended to post something way earlier than this.  But I have gotten caught up in school stuff (ggrrr….seventh grade Science…AGAIN!) and other obligations.  Tonight however, I intend to plunk myself in front of the television at 8 for a retrospective and then at 9 for a two hour finale.  AND record it so I can watch it all again. 

I have written about all this here before.  When I first started watching ER, it was at the insistence of my sister.  As someone reliant on lip reading, I couldn’t handle the fast paced dialog, the fast moving characters and all the medical jargon.  Didn’t like it at all.  But, I was seriously hooked during the first season’s rerun stretch.  It was summer.  I was rocking a baby to sleep at night.  Much slower pace of life.  I could watch the show on Thursday and call my sister on Friday and have her give me the dialog run down.  I enjoyed Susan Lewis’ snarkiness, wanted a doctor exactly like Mark Greene and thoroughly enjoyed Benton’s Carter torture.  And I was stricken by  Jeanie Boulet’s story….loved Kellie Martin’s character…..and Doug and Carol’s drama.   Actors moved on and new ones came in.  I watched and kept up a mild interest…..until season six.  Enter….Luka Kovac….and later….Abby Lockhart. 

I had been aware of Goran Visnjic and Maura Tierney from their previous work.  “Welcome to Sarajevo” was already part of our video library.  I had stumbled on it at Blockbuster because we were in the midst of another international  adoption – one of the underlying themes of that film.  I was also a fan of ‘NewsRadio’ and was a bit perturbed at the news of Maura being added to the ER cast.  Never thought she would fit in there.  I never thought the two of them – as Abby and Luka – would ever consume me as much as they have.  But it wasn’t so much as a viewer as much as a plodding writer.  The ‘Luby II’ drama got me writing again.  REALLY writing.  I mean, really REALLY writing.  Constantly. Obsessively.

Frustrated with the show’s writers and what they were doing with the characters led me to the internet fan fiction sites.  Which gave me a viable audience for my storytelling.  Which led me to  Maura and Goran internet web boards.  Which in turn gave me a circle of internet buddies who were writers and fans of the show as well.  Which led me to blogging.  Which led me to other blogs…blogging friends….and more serious thought about writing.  And their friendships gave me the courage and determination to take a solo trip to NYC to see Maura Tierney in a play last fall.  Much to my husband’s dismay.

So ER ends it’s fifteen year run tonight.  The baby that I rocked to sleep while watching in the beginning is now salivating over the start of his driver’s education class at the end of the month.  His sister, whose adoption at the age of 5 was spurred on by ‘Welcome to Sarajevo’, is the current 7th grade Science not-student.  They have just barely tolerated this ER fascination for the last few years.  The Friday morning drive to school run down of the previous night’s show is now drowned out by ipods.  Not that we haven’t had some fun with it.  Her favorite memory is of the  ‘wedding cake’ we enjoyed the night Abby and Luka were married.  Crazy mom let them stay up, eat a store bought mini carrot cake and toast with Sprite in plastic champagne glasses as the ER wedding was taking place.   Crazy mom….but that event was a LONG time coming.  Seriously.  We just HAD to celebrate it.

Don’t know what I will be thinking tonight as it ends.  I know I will miss it.   We are talking a fifteen year habit here.  Actors and writers and directors and assistant producers and production assistants will move on and I will follow their careers.   I have ER dvd collections to watch.   I am still going to be seriously writing myself.   And I do know that I am keeping my ER friends.  Every single one of them.  Do you hear that people??  I am going to keep bugging you.  So it ain’t really over, I guess.  Not at all.