PTR Senior Staff Writer
It's that time of year again, eh, kids?
And Hallmark Channel has several movies running this weekend that focus on those three words most of you students don't want to hear: back to school.
(I'm not a student anymore, but can it already be the end of July? Where did the summer go?)
It went to Smith.
Er, make that Cybill Shepherd is heading to Smith College as she stars in the Hallmark Channel original movie, Mrs. Washington Goes to Smith, which premieres Saturday, August 1 at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Central) and repeats again Sunday at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Central). In the film, she portrays a middle-aged divorcee who returns to college to finish the degree she never earned, disrupting stately Smith College in the process. It’s a role that she calls “just a huge boost to me as an artist and a person. It was just amazing on so many levels.”
Which levels would those be?
“Well, first off, it was just thrilling to get to play the lead in something that wasn’t just another ensemble,” Cybill says. “This was truly one of the most wonderful stories I’d ever read. It was just such a cool part I couldn’t believe they’d even offer it to me. Really. I don’t get thrown this kind of stuff every day anymore."
How about the offer to play some b-ball?
Turns out she can still throw around a basketball.
Pretty darn well, actually.
And in the film, her alter ego, Alice Washington, makes the Smith College team, which meant Cybill had to get in game shape and sink actual baskets for the camera.
“I’d played a lot of basketball in high school, so it wasn’t entirely foreign to me,” says the 5-foot-8, Memphis-born actress. “It was a huge amount of fun. But beyond that, this role kind of fulfilled a dream in a way. As actors, one of the great things is to be able to live your life sideways and experience something through playing it. That happened for me in pretending to be a college basketball player - and finishing college.”
Cybill took a lot of college classes part-time during her modeling and early years as an actress. But like Alice, she never got that degree.
“It was a major vicarious thrill to finally get it,” she stresses, “even just as make-believe.”
The other thrill was reuniting with Jeffrey Nordling, with whom Shepherd had co-starred in a made-for-TV movie entitled Baby Brokers some 15 years before. In Mrs. Washington, Nordling portrays a poetry professor upon whom both Alice and her pink-haired rebel roommate (Corri English) have a crush.
“Jeffrey and I have great chemistry, so working with him again was a real treat,” she says.
Being a mid-life college girl dovetailed nicely with Cybill's real life in that 21-year-old twins Zach and Ariel Oppenheim, her kids with second husband Bruce Oppenheim, are both still in college themselves. Her daughter Clementine Ford, 30, produced with first husband David Ford, is a successful actress who played Shepherd’s daughter on The L Word and currently is starring on the daytime soap The Young and the Restless.
Having enjoyed a lengthy and successful (some would even say legendary) career and a life lived very much on her own terms, Cybill is winding up her fourth decade as an actress and all-around celebrity.
And it doesn't look to be ending any time soon.
“I don’t feel old yet," she says. "I still feel like I’m right in my prime. I’ve been around long enough that this is, like, my fifth comeback or something. Whatever they want to call it is fine by me."
Mrs. Washington Goes to Smith, which premieres Saturday, August 1 at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Central) on Hallmark Channel. It repeats again Sunday at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Central). For the inside scoop on the film, head on over HallmarkChannel.com
Source: Hallmark Crown Syndicate