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See Marg on Stage!

Marg will be starring as Juliana Smithton
in Sharr White's "The Other Place".
Barrington Stage Company
Pittsfield, MA
May 21 - Jun 14, 2014
Click for more info and to purchase tickets...

Click for more info and to purchase tickets...

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Marg Helgenberger

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In anticipation of the broadcast premiere of Intelligence on Australian television this week, the Sydney Morning Herald interviewed Marg. I’m not posting the entire article because the writer is too focused on Intelligence being on the bubble for renewal and I have no interest in perpetuating rumors. Marg, however, makes many valid and relevant observations so I’ve pulled her responses and pasted them below.

Marg as Lillian Strand in "Intelligence".

Marg as Lillian Strand in “Intelligence”.

Marg on how she would feel if Intelligence were not renewed:

“I’ll be disappointed but I won’t be devastated,” she says. “I have had a few TV shows, and I had one that will probably go down in history as the most successful TV show of all time – certainly one of the top five. I would really love for this show to be picked up. I had a wonderful time working with everyone, it was a wonderful group of actors, and I love (writer) Michael Seitzman.”

When she talks about the most successful TV show of all time, she means CSI, where she played investigator Catherine Willows for 12 years. When she talks about her latest series, she means Intelligence, about a Jason Bourne-style agent implanted with a chip that lets him access the communications systems of the world. It has just completed a run of 13 episodes in the US and Channel Seven is launching it here on Wednesday – just in time for the announcement from the CBS network on whether it will be renewed for another season.

Most US media pundits expect the worst, because ratings were not impressive. Helgenberger blames that on the timeslot – 10pm on a Monday. “We need a different night,” she says. “There’s four comedies leading into Intelligence, and they are completely different audiences. It is smartly written and you kind of have to pay attention. At 10 o’clock at night a lot of people are shutting their brains down.”

Helgenberger would love the opportunity to develop her character Lillian Strand, head of an organisation called Cyber Command, which built the six billion dollar Bourne. When I remark that Lillian seemed “uptight” in the first episode, Helgenberger leaps to her defence: “I wouldn’t describe her as uptight. I am trying to put out fires all throughout the globe. This is an experimental piece of technology that we’re working with, worth a lot of money and a lot of governmental oversight. A lot of people are waiting for me to fall and second-guessing my decisions, so I have to be pretty firm in the way I come off with my colleagues.”

Helgenberger says viewers love to see her playing a strong woman, and she’s proud of the two hashtags she’s been given: “Margincharge” and “BAMF” (which she would like Australians to know is an Americanism for “Bad Ass Mother F—er”). But now she wants to give Lillian a softer side.

“We’re yet to see a love life, although I purposely wore a wedding ring in the pilot episode and I never took it off,” she says. What sort of husband might Lillian have? “I’m hoping he’s a really nice supportive husband, that’s my desire, because I think the job she has is tough and she goes home and she has somebody there that gives her emotional support and brings out her sense of humour, her girlish side, and allows her to relax.”

So which of her two best-known characters – CSI’s Catherine or Intelligence’s Lillian – is more like the real Marg Helgenberger? “Oh probably Catherine.” Then she adds: “She used to be an exotic dancer.”

Intelligence starts on Seven at 9pm on Wednesday.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Before I jump into my recap and review of the Intelligence season one finale, I just want to take a moment and say a huge thank you to everyone involved with Intelligence, but especially to those who are active on social media: Michael Seitzman, PJ Byrne, Michael Rady, Aaron Ginsburg, John Dixon, Lance Reddick, Tomas Arana, Faye Kingslee, Octvavius J. Johnson, and last but most certainly not least, my favorite leading lady, Marg Helgenberger. The social media tie-in, the sharing of behind-the-scenes photos and script pages, and the interaction with the fans through live tweets really enhanced my viewing experience — it’s, by far, the most fun I have ever had watching a television series. Thank you so much for all of your efforts. And now on to the recap…

If you’ve come to expect heart pounding action and plot twists galore, you will not be disappointed with the Intelligence Season 1 finale. “Being Human” delivers a full order of both as Lillian and her team set out to clear Gabriel’s name by finding who is really responsible for the murders that he has been framed for.

Part 2 picks up immediately where we left off last week — with Gabriel, Riley, and Mei Chen fleeing from their would-be assassin. They have no idea who they can trust at this point so they’re trying to stay off the grid, but at the same time, they also know Gabriel needs medical attention. Gabriel knows one person he can definitely trust and directs Riley to drive to his mother’s house. Mary Vaughn, played by the fabulous Debra Mooney, is a retired Army field nurse who is full of spitfire and vinegar and knows her way around an operating room. As Mary and Riley prep Gabriel for surgery, he loses consciousness and Mei Chen seizes the opportunity to get into Gabriel’s head and cyber-render with him.

Mei Chen has decided that she needs to educate Gabriel about the truth, specifically the truth about the people he works for. In their cyber-render, she tells Gabriel that a potential candidate for the Presidency, Governor Christy Cameron, is being targeted for assassination. According to Mei Chen, the conspirators are the same people who hired her to kill those men and frame Gabriel and who then tried to murder both Gabriel and Mei Chen. She knows that they are U.S. government employees but says she doesn’t know specifically who because whoever it is has been very careful. After telling Gabriel she doesn’t care if he believes her or not, Mei Chen exits both the render and Mary Vaughn’s house.

Back at CyberCom, while trading barbs about who is responsible for what happened at the park, Lillian and Jeff Tetazoo brief the Director of National Intelligence Adam Weatherly about the attempt on Gabriel’s life and the fact that he is now on the run with both Riley and Mei Chen. Tetazoo vows that he will find them and reiterates to the CyberCom staff that they are to find and bring in Gabriel, Riley, and Mei Chen dead or alive. Lillian questions the logic of Tetazoo’s orders, especially now that they know there’s an unknown shooter out there who could prove Gabriel’s innocence. She says that we shouldn’t be killing our own people and looks to Weatherly for support. To her dismay, Weatherly sides with Tetazoo and says that Gabriel is a threat due to those vulnerabilities in the chip that were documented by Dr. Cassidy. They all must be brought down.

"We can't be killing our own people."

“We can’t be killing our own people.”

While recovering from surgery, Gabriel asks Riley if she thinks one of their own is behind the shooting. They immediately rule out Lillian but say they wouldn’t put it past Tetazoo. As they discuss the possibilities Mama Vaughn points out the obvious — that someone should warn Governor Cameron that her life may be in danger. Riley’s ex, played by Michael Trucco, is in charge of Governor Cameron’s security detail and Riley convinces him to give her an audience with the Governor.

Lillian convenes a second secret meeting with Jameson, Nelson, and Dr. Cassidy to relay to them everything she knows about ‘The Flood’, an Iranian program designed to recruit high ranking U.S. Government officials and turn them into sleeper agents for Iran. Lillian shares her belief that Colonel Hatcher discovered the identity of one or more of these sleeper agents and was turning their names over to the FBI when he and the FBI Deputy Director were murdered. Dr. Cassidy pieces together that they then framed Gabriel to get him out of the way because they knew that Gabriel and the chip would be the best way to find and stop the sleeper agents. The team concludes that Gabriel and Riley’s lives depend on them finding out the identities of the sleeper agents and to do that, they first need to find Gabriel and Riley. Jameson thinks this will be nearly impossible considering that since he wiped Gabriel’s hacking of the minivan computer off the grid, the entire Intelligence apparatus has been tracking Gabriel with no success. Nelson reminds them that Gabriel needs medical assistance and Dr. Cassidy and Lillian remember that Gabriel’s mom is a former Army nurse. They surmise that Gabriel very likely would have sought her help.

Lillian educates her team about 'The Flood'.

Lillian educates her team about ‘The Flood’.

Lillian and her team, however, aren’t the only ones who come to this conclusion. The assassin also figures it out and before Riley returns from the governor’s office, makes another attempt on Gabriel’s life. With a little help from Mom in the form of a can of hairspray and a ‘cannon’ of a gun that she keeps in her nightstand, Gabriel takes out the assailant and using facial recognition technology, he identifies the man as Thomas Olivier.
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Here’s a PSA for the Artists & Athletes Alliance in which Marg and her former CSI costar Jorja Fox appear to answer the question “What’s your cause?” Marg’s cause is the Race to Erase MS.

Summary from the Artists & Athletes Alliance YouTube Channel:

“The Artists & Athletes Alliance recently gathered a number of our advisory board members as participants in a new campaign we are calling the “What’s Your Cause? Campaign.” We filmed public service announcements (PSAs) highlighting our members’ favorite causes, charities and foundations. The purpose of our campaign is to showcase a variety of important organizations that occupy the non-profit space and encourages all people to get get involved and support a cause that interests them. What’s Your Cause? | Make a Difference. Support a Cause.”

Credit: Artists & Athletes Alliance YouTube Channel

I can tell by all of the internet chatter and by the sudden rush of emails I’m receiving that we’re all getting excited about the prospect of seeing Marg perform on stage in “The Other Place” in a couple of months. That said, I’m feeling the need to play ‘Mother Hen’ and offer a word of advice to those who are planning to attend — please be cautious about sharing the details of your travel plans online. As much fun as fans on the internet can be, not everyone is as they seem. Even if you think you’ve known someone online for a while, you unfortunately just never know who you are broadcasting your details to.

Fan meetings can be beautiful, and yes, I’ll be the first to say I have met some of my best friends that way, but I’ll also be the first to say that I’m also extremely cautious about who I’m willing to meet because I’ve heard so many nightmarish stories about meetings that haven’t gone well at all. For that reason, please do not contact me to inquire about when I’ll be attending. For safety’s sake, I will not be giving out that information.

Also, please do not contact me asking me to vouch for a fellow fan if you are considering meeting with them for the first time. For the reasons above, I am not willing to do that. I would feel too responsible if I said “Oh yeah, that person is awesome” and then you had a horrible experience, so please don’t put me in that position.

I’m getting off my mother hen soap box now, but please everyone, just be smart and be safe. I want everyone who is going, myself included, to have a positive and safe experience.

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