Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shadowing Stephen Moyer at Toyota Pro/Celebrity Grand Prix

As featured on

What an amazing weekend this was. As Dickens said in “A Tale of Two Cities”, "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." Actually, mostly for me anyway, this weekend was THE BEST OF TIMES.

This was truly an honor to be invited since we were the only fan site to be asked. The publicity department recognized the influence that fan sites have on the public and they wanted to try out letting a fan site have this access. I hope they weren’t disappointed, I sure wasn’t! It was an honor and privilege.

I had originally planned to drive to Long Beach early Saturday morning with two other Billsbabes, the day of the race, so when I got the invitation, I knew I had to go down Thursday, requiring that all my plans be changed, double quick. I got a hotel room and drove down late Thursday so I could arrive early on Friday to pick up my credentials.


While the actual race was not until Saturday, Friday was the day when the celebrities who were participating in the race practiced and qualified for their starting positions, sort of like a dress rehearsal. I was really glad that they chose Friday instead of Saturday, Race Day, for me because I have since learned that it is the best day to be there. On Friday, the celebrities are more at ease, open and willing to sign autographs and chat with the likes of me and the press but on Saturday when they have the actual race; it’s more “down to business”.

The day’s event included the drivers running a practice race in the morning and in the afternoon they performed the actual qualifying run. Based on their fastest lap out of the ten laps that they drove, they would be lined up from fastest to slowest. The driver who had the fasted lap in the qualifying trial got the coveted “pole position” (first in line) and, as you now know, Stephen got it, but not after risking his life to do so.

Here’s the schedule I received from @toyotaracing. The actual times did change somewhat during the day and they added a couple of team meetings, but this schedule is pretty close to the events that took place: Schedule for the day
  • 9:15 a.m. Toyota Pro/Celebrities Arrive at Compound, get into uniforms, have breakfast and conduct media interviews
  • 12 – 2:00 p.m. Lunch available
  • 2:15 p.m. Group Photo “Class of 2011”
  • 4:15 p.m. “PEOPLE POLE AWARD” PRESENTATION (Immediately following the qualifying session) All participants on stage
The plan was for me to tweet and email as much information to my Co-Admin Shadaliza from the scene as possible because she was live blogging the event on the site. She was also posting everything that came out on the news and holding down the fort for The Vault and AllSteve.  We spoke via Skype several times, so we were truly covering this event from as many angles as possible. 

When I arrived at about 8:00 a.m., I went to the Celebrity Compound entrance and met with a PR person who was waiting for me there. She kindly gave me a tour of the area and showed me where breakfast was waiting. When we walked down the steps to where the cars were parked and the technicians were testing and making final preparations for the practice run, I immediately noticed Stephen’s blue car in front of me and I stopped to take a picture. Of the cars, his was the best looking and it had his name on it and number 14. I was then showed the celebrity tent where a big screen TV was projecting the racing of the Indy cars that were practicing at the moment. The noise of their engines was deafening and when I expressed how loud they were, she agreed, but said, “you’d better get used to it because that’s what you will hear all day.”

My wrist band and ticket for Friday, April 15

Across from the celebrity tent, and just past the lined up celebrities Toyota Scion cars, was a fence where, on the other side fans were lined up hoping to see their favorite stars. Early on, Jillian Barberie Reynolds did a LIVE taping at the fence and several of the celebrities who had arrived by that point and were in uniform, came over, signed autographs and joined in the fun.

I hadn’t seen Steve yet, but had heard that he had been on the True Blood set working all night filming, and might be late. I walked around and looked at the cars filming a video of the area and walked down the drive where the cars entered the course to watch the Indy cars roar past.  

Shortly after that I went upstairs and had some coffee and a bit of fruit and I looked down on the compound wondering what the day would bring. There were essentially two types of groups permitted in the compound, official press and friends and families of celebrities. I was more in the second group because I wasn’t required to wear any press credentials, just a wristband.

Not being press was much better because I had complete access to everything and could move about as I pleased and could take as many photos and videos as I wanted. I was in heaven.

Then I saw Stephen Moyer. He wasn’t yet dressed in his Toyota racing uniform, but was on his way to his car to inspect it and get the seat adjusted for his practice run.

On the way to the car he saw me and gave me a big hug and I asked him how he felt and he said “exhausted”. This was when I learned how exhausted he was. He said that he was on the set until 6:30am and had driven down and arrived at 7:30am, got an hour sleep and then came over. He looked tired.

After that he went about his business of getting dressed and conducting lots of interviews. He also went over to the fans at the fence and signed autographs:

I pretty much was wherever he was all day, as much as possible and essentially was his “shadow”.

Lynnpd shadowing Stephen Moyer

The first official event of the day was to run their practice laps. All the cars were lined up and while Steve was waiting to take off, I stood as close to his car as was possible and waived and said “Good Luck”. He gave a “thumbs up” sign. Then, they were off. The cars drove out of the compound and we had to watch it on the TV inside the celebrity tent. When done the ten laps, the cars came back to the compound. He was not happy with his practice. I asked him why and he said that he didn’t drive as fast a time as he had in the other trials. From this, and from what I know of Steve, I knew he was going to try to go faster during the actual qualification to be held later in the afternoon. Little did I know then how much faster and what would happen.

He then posed for lots of photos and did several interviews. There was a group photo taken, and it was shot at Steve’s car #14. Since I thought his car was the best looking of all of them I was glad they chose it for the photo.

After all of that, he sat in the celebrity tent and had lunch with some of the drivers. I ate too, but separately and with a very interesting person whose name is Kris Bunting. Kris is a former key assistant location manager for the Showtime series "Dexter. He told me that he was featured in a LATimes article this past week about trying to regenerate the studios to shoot their locations in LA. He was very interesting to talk to and I told him about me a bit, too. 
Let me apologize for all the shaking and poorly composed frames. I couldn't see what I was shooting and was being bumped around by all the camermen behind me. Also, not being able to hear anything around you effects your equilibrium, LOL!

After eating I went back down where the cars were. As I talked to a PR person Steve came out with his phone asking her where he could get a charge. She took his phone to get it charged for him and he sat down next to me. He had been trying to catch a nap, but said he couldn’t sleep. I told him that it might be better not to sleep as after an hour or so, you get into a deep sleep and it might be harder to wake up.

Shortly after that, Steve talked with me for a short interview:

Soon after, his family arrived including the two children, Anna and his sister. I knew his sister, but hadn’t physically met her, and it was nice to do so. We talked a bit and then, Steve had to get ready for the final qualifying race. His sister and I took lots of photos of him. The family all sat in the celebrity tent where the TV was, but Anna and the children came out to wish Steve luck and wave from the sidelines while he was in the driver’s seat waiting to go. Then, the driver’s were off.

I went into the celebrity tent too and stood with the publicity ladies. They were so nice to me and we were all talking True Blood. They all had earphones on and were getting info before we did and they filled me in on what was happening. Steve was in first place with the fastest lap. Then, at lap 7, his car flipped over and we saw it LIVE on the TV.

I felt so sad that Anna and the kids had to see it and didn’t know how at that point whether he was all right or not. The PR people immediately knew that he was OK and I saw someone go over to Anna to reassure her that all was well. I have to say that I was much shaken when I saw it, but somehow I just knew he would be OK and thank God, that he was.

The qualification was ended at the 7th lap because of his car flip, so each of the drivers ranked based on seven instead of ten laps. Since Steve’s lap was still the fastest among the celebrities, he won the coveted, “pole position.” This meant that he had won $15,000 from People Magazine for the charity of his choice, which of course, is Facing the Atlantic.

Once the drivers returned to the compound, very quickly had the ceremony to announce the pole position winner took place. Since Steve won, he was given a big check and a trophy. I was amazed at how cool and calm he seemed and how he joked about messing it up for the other drivers and that the kids had asked him if the flip was like a rollercoaster ride. I don’t think I could have been that cool after having experienced such a traumatic moment, he sure is a “trooper”.

Stephen Moyer winning the Pole Position - After flipping his car on the track, he still had the fastest lap and there won $15,000.00 for his charity, Facing The Atlantic:

The day was pretty much over at that point and I went up to him and said my goodbyes and told him that I was so glad that he was OK. He replied, “I am too.”  

SATURDAY – RACE DAY On Saturday, I didn’t have access to the compound and I have to say that after being on the inside Friday it was really hard to deal with having to look through a fence and be so far away to see what was going on. I and three other Billsbabes who had come for the event, were waiting at the fence for Steve to appear. I had told him on Friday that I would be on the other side of the fence on Saturday, sadly. I mentioned that I would be with other babes and that they would want autographs and asked him to come over when he saw me. He agreed. I told him I’d shout for him. We stood at the fence near his car which was in first position.
Steve's car ready to go in "pole position" on Saturday, April 16 
I figured that would be the first place he went as he did so on Friday, but he never went near the car. We ended up standing in the sun for about 2 hours which was really hot, and tiring. While we got glimpses of him, he never went near the car. He seemed to be darting back and forth from trailer to green room for some reason (which at the time we didn’t know why), but was in full uniform and looked physically OK and ready to race.

Then, the tweet came from Shadaliza from across the pond. One of the babes showed it to me and it said he had pulled out of the race. What? How could that be, I thought?  Here we were at the event and Shadaliza, who lives in Italy found out before we did, but then we were just fans today, so I wasn't too surprised.

His official statement was as follows: After much thought and consideration, and at the request of his producers, Stephen Moyer has decided not to take part in the 35th annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. Moyer, the star of the HBO series “True Blood,” has pulled out of the race in consideration of the cast and crew of his show, which is currently in production. While I’m disappointed I won’t be racing today, I know it’s in the best interest of my ‘True Blood’ family,” said Moyer. “I look forward to cheering on my fellow racers and following all the race-day action.” In Moyer’s absence, actor William Fichtner will take the pole position in today’s race. As pole-position winner in Friday’s qualifying session, Moyer designated his $15,000 donation in conjunction with the 14th annual People Pole Award to the charity Facing the Atlantic. Facing the Atlantic is a project to raise funds for the humanitarian organization Facing the World, which is a U.K. charity that provides life-changing facial reconstructive surgery for children with severe facial disfigurements who are not able to access the surgery that they need in their own countries.

I didn’t even have time to think about what this would mean for Steve, but I now feel so sad for him because I know how much this meant to him. However winning the $15,000 for Facing the Atlantic and getting the Pole position was a feat in itself, and he can feel gratified that he did a good job!

However, while still standing at the fence, I started to get concerned that we might not see him at all. We had been waiting to see him and now it seemed that, although one of the babes had come all the way from Michigan, we might not get to see him at all. I wasn’t concerned for myself of course, but for the babes who hadn’t had the thrill I had on Friday. So, I left them and walked to the other side of the compound to a door that I knew was the entrance to the celebrity compound area and managed to get a PR person to give Steve the message that we were at the fence. He immediately came over. I asked him how he was and he said he was fine. He explained that since all the stars were on hiatus right now and he is the only one filming, that HBO said insurance was an issue, so he was forced to pull out. He had been fully prepared to race and looked truly disappointed. However, as he said, he got what he wanted; the money for charity and that meant a lot.

After that, seeing the race seemed anti-climactic and I was ready to just leave, but then I thought I should go watch it to really understand the experience, and it was only ten laps after all, so I went. We all did, and when it was over, then came back to the compound hoping to see more. I left shortly after that as from the fence there was little to be seen.

So, I had the best of times on Friday and although Saturday wasn’t totally the worst of times, it sure wasn’t as good and the previous day. However, Friday was so terrific and having tasted the “good life” on the inside, it was hard to go back.

I’m content because Steve was unhurt, had won pole position and raised a lot of money for his charity, making it a successful event for him, too. Being with him all day Friday has no equal and was a great experience that I will cherish. I have gained even more respect for him and am proud to be his fan.


You too can give to Facing the Atlantic and support Stephen Moyer's charity by making a direct donation to Facing The Atlantic here:
Please note: add the code TB4FTA (True Blood for Facing The Atlantic) to the note of your donation so we can keep track of how much was donated by True Blood / Stephen Moyer fans.

Thanks to LifeIsNotEasy and Filmchick3 for contributing photos and videos to this article. Thanks also to Shadaliza for processing all my videos and for being my rock and helping me in all things; couldn't have done all of this without her help. But most of all, thanks to Stephen Moyer for putting up with me all day following him around.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Exclusive video interview with Stephen Moyer

Even if I wasn't a die hard fan, I have to say that Stephen Moyer is really an amazing person. After having worked on the True Blood set all night with no sleep, he handled what was, in my opinion an almost impossible task on Friday when he qualified for pole position in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Grand Prix.

I was privileged to have been granted full access to the Celebrity Compound on Friday by Toyota Racing.  This meant that I was there during the practice and qualifications for race position and able to spend the day following Stephen around as he prepared for the trials.  I was essentially his shadow for the day and will write more about my experience in a future post.

Steve was kind enough to spend a few minutes to answer a some questions for the fans for me. In the video, he answers the burning question about how Bill Compton would do in this race, talks a bit about his plans for the hiatus (without really telling me anything specific) and about the fabulous photo shoot in Bullett Magazine which was photographed by Kurt Iswarienko. I told him how much the fans love that photo shoot and and Steve told me not that only does it reveal some things about his past, but that Kurt was chosen to shoot the True Blood promo posters for Season 4, so we are expecting that they will be awesome!   

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Night of Good Music and True Blood in LA

As featured on The Vault -

Abri van Straten was scheduled to appeared at The Foundry last night and I thought it would be fun to go and hear him sing and also finally meet his wife, True Blood's Pam, Kristin Bauer, so I drove to Los Angeles for an evening of music. When I arrived, at the very comfortable and engaging venue, I noticed that seated at the first table was Chris Pierce, Kristin Bauer and, as an additional treat, Tara Buck, who plays Ginger on True Blood. She was there, like Kristin to support Chris, her boyfriend who was scheduled to play a set of his music after Abri.   

Kristin Bauer, Chris Pierce, Tara Buck
Since Abri's set hadn't yet started, I went over to their table, introduced myself and we talked for a few minutes. I was happy to learn that Ginger, Tara's character on True Blood, will be back in Season 4 because Tara told me she had just finished filming some scenes. Tara has also been actively busy guest starring on several network shows such as Justified, TNT's Southland and Cold Case

Like Tara, Kristin was just what I expected her to be, a very giving and caring person. She graciously spent a lot of time talking to the True Blood fans who showed up as well as posing with them for photos. She and Tara were kind enough to also pose with me in the photo below:

Kristin Bauer, Lynnpd, and Tara Buck

Another surprise of the night was meeting a person who is yet to be seen on True Blood, Ryan C. Burney. Ryan who doubles as the Foundry's Bartender, just completed a part in two episodes of Season 4 and while he couldn't really tell me much, he did say that we will love the upcoming season. He also told me that his scenes were "historic" in nature and that they included True Blood's latest star, Fiona Shaw. Ryan was very impressed with Fiona's acting abilities and said that, in one particular scene, he found her to be very moving, and he so wanted to react, but his part wouldn't allow him to. I'll let all you speculators out there run with this, because that's all I'm saying about it. 

As we talked at the bar, I asked him about his audition and he said that since his wasn't a speaking part, all he did was submit a photo to get it. He stated that HBO was looking for someone with a beard, and since he hadn't shaved recently, he fit the part nicely. Learn more about Ryan at his IMDB page.

Ryan C. Burney
Then, the music sets for the night began. First Abri played songs from his solo album Sunlight & Shadows, which were lilting and lovely. He also played songs from his former band, The Lemmings. I enjoy so many of his songs, that it's difficult to choose my favorites, but one I especially liked hearing again was, "Rain". Learn more about Abri by going to his web site

I'm familiar with Abri's music because I have his CD, but I wasn't as familiar with Chris Pierce who took over the stage for the second set of the evening. He is a California native who sings with a lot of soul and spirit. I especially liked his song, "Are You Beautiful" from his album, "Intimate Moments". Learn more about Chris by visiting his web site.

Abri van Straten and Chris Pierce

Both men have a lot of talent and I enjoyed their music very much. I strongly recommend seeing them if they come to your town or, better yet, why not buy their albums?  Here's where you can get them:
  • Abri’s van Straten's CDs are now available on, if you order them from his Amazon store front you will receive a copy signed by the man himself and a signed photo of Kristin Bauer. Check it out here.
  • Chris Pierce's albums are now available on (four albums) are available on ITunes here.
Thanks to the True Blood actors and the wonderful musicians who made the night an enjoyable one.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Versatility of Stephen Moyer

As featured on

This week has surely been a media frenzy for  the Stephen Moyer fans to gobble up. There were two major Stephen stories to post. One being his involvement in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Grand Prix training on its “media day” and the other was additional photos from the extravagant Bullett Magazine photo shoot. Could two Stephen Moyer related stories be any more diverse than this? I don’t think so, but then, that is Steve.

Photo of Stephen training for his race and from the Bullett Magazine photo shoot

The definition of the word "versatile" according to Webster's Dictionary is: : changing or fluctuating readily : variable. This defines Stephen perfectly, in my opinion. While, he is steady as a rock, he is also like a tree's branches that bend with the wind adapting and investigating new ways to rejuvenate how we see him.  

When he was kind enough to single me out at the Scream Awards last October, I asked him if he would have liked to dress up like the fans do at the event. He told me that he would have enjoyed it. He and Anna "would have liked to do a bit of cross dressing”, he said. So, this got me thinking about his work and his life and how diverse it all has been. 

Stephen seems to like things different, quirky, challenging, interesting and just plain ‘fun’ In the interview for Bullett Magazine, Stephen talked about his favorite show “Breaking Bad” and he said, “Breaking Bad for me is on a slightly different plane. It’s one that I’m much more interested in –the dark, scratchy side of the world. He likes to change things up often and seems to create himself anew with each role. Although in his personal life, he appears to be less flamboyant, even that has been an adventure. How many people do you know that have lived in a purple houseboat?  Even his favorite color of purple is atypical for a male. 

Stephen loves his kids, animals, walks on the beach, goes shopping and does all the traditional things for a man of his age. However, he also plays the ukulele, rides a skateboard, sings beautifully, wears an earring, etc. and now he's even racing in a car race! All these things single him out as an adventurer. And, now he is even starting his own production company with Anna and is supporting his friends by helping out with the worthy charity, Facing the Altantic. All this while being on a very demanding hit TV show and looking for other work to do when the show is on hiatus. It all amazes me how much energy he has and how he keeps up, while constantly also changing it up. In his many film and TV roles and photo shoots he has often been the handsome lead or supporting character, but he has also played bad boys, criminals and psychopaths and has been known to put on the "glam" even before the new Bullett magazine shoot. 

Personally, while I love the sweet and tender Steve, I also like it when he plays the bad ass parts that surprise us.  He adapts well to any situation.  He also is the life of the party and makes us laugh and feel at ease, as if you were the the most important person in the room. There's also the shy and modest Stephen, but most of all his fans love his openess to new and exciting things. I admire his determination to live as normal a life as possible, even while in the spotlight; no easy accomplishment. 

All this is why I think he is the most interesting actor and person out there right now. In my opinion, there is nothing that he hasn't done well and I hope that now, with his new fame, he will find opportunities to do even more interesting parts in great films that will continue to surprise us, because I'll be in the audience watching.

Below are some photo examples of his versatility and willingness to be himself.