Lots of Bonnie Somerville's best roles put her on familiar turf. She played a singer-songwriter, which she is. She's played cops, which her grandfather and cousins have been. And now she plays a mother; her own mom provides an interesting background. Here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
For Bonnie Somerville, Mother’s Day used to be a mega-day –
lots of food, people and conversation.
Her mom, after all, had eight siblings. “We’d get as many
people as we could, for a big dinner,” she said.
Now things are quieter. She’s in California and arranged a
Mother’s Day gift for her mom in Manhattan. And on separate coasts, they can
watch “Mom’s Day Away,” her new Hallmark Channel film.
“It has a really funny script, almost a buddy comedy,” she
said. “And I got to be in beautiful Vancouver.”
Well, outwardly beautiful. Despite a frigid stretch, the stars
were in shorts and T-shirts; that’s acting.
Somerville plays a stay-at-home mom whose husband (James
Tupper) and kids seem too busy for her, even on Mother’s Day weekend. A friend with
an exotic career whisks her to a resort, where she ponders having it all …
which Somerville’s own mom has sort of shown is possible.
That was not an easy situation – a policeman’s daughter in a
Catholic family, being a single-mom in mid-’70s Brooklyn; it worked out, with
the help of that mega-family. “My grandparents would watch me after school,”
Somerville said, and her mom – who built a Wall Street career – encouraged her.
“She taught me to be fearless, told me I could be anything I wanted to be.”
Which involved music. “I saw ‘Annie’ when I was 6 years old (and)
would sing the “Annie” songs around the house all day.” She stuck with that,
majoring in musical theater in college; in virtually her first TV role, she was
the vibrant star of “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” a1999 mini-series about a 1950s
singer-songwriter. “I was 25 and it was huge for me; it was probably the best
time I’ve ever had in a role.”
Her music faded as TV kept her busy. In the final year of “NYPD
Blue” and the only year of “Golden Boy,” Somerville played police detectives –
appropriate for someone whose grandfather and several female cousins became
cops. In comedies, she starred in three series (“Grosse Pointe,” “Kitchen
Confidential” and “The In-Laws”) and guested in others, even being Ross’
girlfriend Mona in half a “Friends” season.
But the music returned when she wrote and sang a song in “Garden
State,” the 2004 indie-movie favorite. Somerville went on to sing with The Band
From TV (“Hugh Laurie is an amazing musician”) and is now filming an indie
musical. Life can be good for someone whose mom lets her to be fearless.
Mother’s Day TV,
“Mom’s Day Away,” noon and 9 p.m., Hallmark
(debuts Saturday, 8 p.m. and midnight).
“My Mother’s Future Husband,” 7 and 11 p.m., UP.
“I Remember Mama” (1948), 8 p.m. ET, Turner
Also, two perverse choices – “Mommie Dearest”
(1981), 7:15 p.m., Sundance; the first half of the new “Rosemary’s Baby” miniseries,
9-11 p.m., NBC.