Belled


Welcome Designing Women Enthusiasts!

This issue of Belled brings with it some significant changes in the Belled Online website, the layout of our email publication, and the way we present our news. As a matter of fact, visitors to the Belled Homepage the last few weeks may have already noticed some exciting new updates!

Our goal for Belled Online has always been to be the strongest Internet resource on Designing Women and the current careers of the creative team behind the classic series. During our two and a half years in publication, we've discovered that special news and announcements often break between Issues or don't fall within our press schedule. So, in addition to a jazzy new splash page, Belled Online now features a special Hot Off the Press section on its homepage, with up-to-the-minute announcements as soon as we receive them -- regardless of the schedule of our email publication!

What does this mean to subscribers? This will have absolutely no effect on the integrity of our email publication; with less frequent Issues, however, moving Hot Off the Press to the homepage offers subscribers and other visitors a regularly updated resource for additional information not always available when our Issues go to press. In addition, if frees up space in our Issues for more in-depth Cast Features, Project Spotlights, and Designing Women Flashbacks!

So, if you haven't had the opportunity yet, be sure to visit the Belled Homepage and discover what's Hot Off the Press! And don't forget to check back for updates!

Of course, changes to Belled Online also means changes to our sister site, Designing Women Tribute. In order to foster the informative nature of Belled, we are moving the more interactive segments to DWT. In the next few weeks, you'll find the collection of "Whatever Happened to . . ." along with a submission form for new entries on DWT, as well as Trivia right in the Episode Summaries (don't worry, the answers to last Issue's Trivia are included in this issue!). Also in the works for DWT is a submission form in the Favorite Quotes section so you all can email us those quotes you're dying to see listed up there!

Finally, please know how much we appreciate your feedback, and we trust that many of you will see a direct response in many of these ongoing changes. Please keep that feedback coming!

And now, without further ado, in this Issue of Belled Online:

  • Cast Feature -- Dixie Carter launches new skin care line
  • Designing Women Flashback -- Exclusive interview with Connie Lew (Li Sing)
  • Project Spotlight -- Sheryl Lee Ralph returns to Broadway

  • The Terminator vs. Aging Skin

    We know her for the strong women she's played on television. Now, Dixie Carter is empowering real women regarding skin care, as well as sharing her personal beauty secret.


    Throughout her career, Dixie Carter has been deluged with requests for her beauty and fitness secrets. In reply, during the 1990s she produced and was featured in two fitness videos and also wrote the autobiographical Trying to Get to Heaven in which she offers advice on becoming who you want to be, including her own personal ode to beauty.

    Dixie's immense popularity, loyal admirers, and classic beauty (inside and out) have resulted in countless offers to endorse beauty and health products. Dixie said no to all of them because, as she explains, "I've been on television a long time; I have lots of friends who feel like they can trust my word. I wasn't about to go out and start selling anything and putting my name on anything that I didn't know for sure was absolutely wonderful."

    Like most women, Dixie has tried nearly every skin product under the sun during her own quest for the perfect one. Now that she's found it with EnhanceMe, a New Orleans-based skin care company, Dixie Carter has also proudly and enthusiastically put her name on the product. "I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to give back a little [of what] I've gotten from all of you over the years," Dixie enthuses. "This is my way of giving back. This is my beauty secret."

    Dixie Carter with her father, Halbert CarterIn fact, Dixie is not just a celebrity endorser; she is a partner of EnhanceMe and plans to be extremely involved in future product development, as well. EnhanceMe CEO, Cynthia House, matches Dixie's enthusiasm over the partnership: "I wanted to build on my company's philosophy to empower, enlighten, and educate women so that they can make intelligent and informed decisions when it comes to enhancing their lives. I found no one more in tune with this philosophy than Dixie Carter. She represents what EnhanceMe is all about; smart, savvy, and sophisticated."

    The EnhanceMe line of physician quality skin care products was developed by one of the country's premiere research facilities dedicated to skin care and cell preservation and features the results of the latest research on anti-aging. "I love these products. I'm telling y'all," enthuses Dixie. "You know me as a traditional woman, I love the old fashioned values, but where skin care is concerned, I love state of the art, and that's what we've got here."

    Dixie's EnhanceMe products are the most advanced, clinically proven formulas available for reversing the aging process and creating brilliantly beautiful skin. The products contain unique delivery systems for moving vitamins and anti-oxidants into the skin, maximizing the skin's ability to stay healthier and younger. According to Dixie, what this all means in layman's terms is that "IT WORKS!"

    EnhanceMe is serious skin care, but it's also approachable and non-intimidating, with names designed to be fun and easy to remember. Dixie's EnhanceMe products appeal particularly to Baby Boomers' needs and delight them in the process with great packaging, star-studded names, and movie memories such as I Cream of Jeanie, Bringing in the Rain, C-cret Agent, and Spray Misty for Me. Plump Fiction (a lip enhancer) and Peel of Dreams are examples of just some of the names that also appeal to younger consumers using the products to keep aging at bay by properly nourishing and revitalizing their skin.

    Prior to the company's partnership with Dixie, EnhanceMe products were only available through dermatologists and plastic surgeons or at high-end spas. Together, Dixie and EnhanceMe have already brought home to millions of women and men not only access to these products at affordable prices but access to the information and research behind the products when Dixie made her national debut with EnhanceMe on HSN in early June. "Since Dixie's appearance on HSN, the response to the EnhanceMe products has been overwhelming!" exclaims Cynthia House. "Dixie's fans are thrilled that she has finally decided to share with them her beauty secrets that have kept her looking so young and beautiful."

    Dixie with her commercial agentSince their HSN debut just six weeks ago, EnhanceMe has been besieged with calls from Dixie's fans, telling EnhanceMe stories of how Dixie has influenced their lives over the years. And this is only the beginning! Dixie plans to appear on HSN again within the next few months, and she is also in the process of launching her products into the mass market. Explains House: "Dixie believes so strongly that her fans and every woman and man in America should be able to have above average skin care at a reasonable price they can afford. This is why Dixie has chosen to go the mass-market route, as opposed to department store distribution."

    Soon, Dixie's products will be in some of the largest retail stores in the country, like Albertson's and Long's Drugs, as well as independent and family-owned stores across America. Ms. House is thrilled to announce that "every day, the EnhanceMe line is being picked up by more and more retail stores throughout the country, and soon it is expected to be one of the most sought-after skin care lines available on the mass market."

    With their partnership dedicated to the company's philosophy to "empower, enlighten, and educate" women (and men, too!) about skin care, Dixie Carter and EnhanceMe are not only excited but fueled by the initial response they've received. Already the skin care line is expanding and, according to CEO Cynthia House, we can expect some incredible new beauty breakthroughs in the very near future!


    NOTES:

  • Dixie's EnhanceMe products are currently available through HSN.com
  • Photos courtesy of dixiecarter.com
  • Further information about EnhanceMe and Dixie's products are available at enhanceme.com and dixiecarter.com
  • Special thanks to Catherine Shreves and EnhanceMe
  • PHOTO CAPTIONS:
    (1) Dixie and father, Halbert Carter, at the 2002 Kentucky Derby
    (2) Dixie with her commercial agent in the studio greenroom prior to her HSN debut



    Roots and Wings

    Connie Lew shares childhood memories of Designing Women
    and where her wings have since taken her.


    Connie LewOn March 23, 1987, Designing Women viewers were treated to a very special episode that highlighted one of the most stand-out guest performances of the series. The episode "Oh, Suzannah" featured child actress Connie Lew in the unforgetable role of Suzanne's foster daughter Li Sing. Humorous and heart-tugging scenes between Li Sing, Suzanne and Julia made this episode one of the most recognized and cherished of the series run and helped establish a vulnerability in the outwardly spoiled Suzanne.

    At the time, spunky and outspoken little Connie Lew was becoming a familiar face on television, with appearances on The Fall Guy, The Slap Maxwell Story, Our House, Designing Women and Kids Incorporated -- all garnering her enough attention to rate an invitation to appear with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.

    Eventually, Connie dropped out of the spotlight to focus on her education, but DW fans will forever remember her as Li Sing. Now, fifteen years after "Oh, Suzannah" first graced our televisions, a very adult Connie Lew shares with us some memories and brief anecdotes from her Designing Women experience.

    ____________________________



    BELLED--Connie, at the time that you did Designing Women you were only nine years old, and the series was clearly not written for an audience of children. Were you familiar with the show at all?

    CONNIE LEW--To tell you the honest truth, I was not familiar with the show prior to being cast on it, but then again, when I was interviewed on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, I had no idea who he was either! And of course he used the opportunity to embarrass me about it on national TV! So, I did not really have any expectations when I first set foot on the show. But I can tell you that everybody on the set was phenomenally sweet and welcomed me with open arms! I felt like I was at home even on my first day!!!

    BELLED--Before DW you had already done a lot of bit television parts, but this part required significantly more dialogue and cast interaction. What sort of audition process did you have to go through?

    CONNIE--I don't entirely remember the exact number of auditions (believe it or not, it has been about two decades since I was on the show!) but I know there were at least two rounds of auditions and that it was pretty competitive! From what I can remember, I think the director and producers were looking for someone whose character was already similar to Li Sing's, and I was a very outgoing as well as outspoken kid by nature anyway, so it wasn't too tough to just be myself.

    BELLED--Your character ended up being one of the more significant guest spots on the series, with Li Sing written into almost every scene. With only a short time to prepare, and such a featured role in the episode, what kind of pressure was there graduating from rehearsals to a live audience?

    CONNIE--The rehearsals were a lot more laid back and relaxed, which was expected considering the taping is in front of a live studio audience. We had about two weeks to rehearse and only a couple of hours to actually tape! I did have a tough time with the Southern accent on the line where I imitate a peer from my school. I had to practice the Southern accent for quite a bit before the actual taping.

    Li Sing and SuzanneBELLED--Working with such a diverse ensemble cast gives any young actor a wealth of talent and technique to draw upon. Was there anything specific that you learned about acting from any of the DW team that you could share with us?

    CONNIE--Considering that I was supposed to emulate Suzanne on the show, I would have to say that I picked up a lot of Delta Burke's mannerisms and tones. I'm not sure if I retained them after Designing Women, however -- each role that I was ever on was very different from the next. But I do remember being very impressed by how easily Delta Burke and Dixie Carter could cry in the scene where Julia was convincing Suzanne to give me up to my new foster parents. I guess you could say, I was inspired by that ability and tried to use it in other roles where I had to cry mid-scene.

    BELLED--The Designing Women cast and crew were pretty seasoned and had things down to a science, even at this early stage in the series. But, things always have a tendancy to go awry on a live set. Do you have any particularly funny memories that you could share with us?

    CONNIE--With a cast as dynamic as Designing Women, of course! During one of the rehearsals, I remember Delta Burke accidentally hitting her head against the desk on one of the scenes! And none of us could figure out how that happened considering the desk was so low to the ground and she was standing! In fact, I don't even think she ever figured it out, but she did feel the pain and we had to ice it so it wouldn't swell or bruise! Another memory was during the actual taping in one scene where I was supposed to blow out my birthday cake. During the first take, I was so nervous and short of breath that I could not blow out the darn candles like I was supposed to! So, by like the fifth blow, Suzanne leaned over and just blew it out for me. On the second take, I had much more confidence and blew those candles out like nobody's business. But, I guess the director loved the first take so much that they kept it, even though it wasn't supposed to happen that way!

    Connie LewBELLED--Since your role and this episode are still so well remembered and revered by DW fans, what has your experience been in terms of people's reactions when they realize you were Li Sing?

    CONNIE--They think that it's just the cutest thing! And of course they start singing the "Oh, Suzannah" song every time!

    BELLED--So, we know you disappeared from our televisions years ago so you could concentrate on school. What has Connie Lew been up to as an adult? And what are your future plans?

    CONNIE--I graduated from UCLA in 1998 and am currently a business consultant. I am seriously considering law school in the fall and plan on going into public interest law or becoming a college professor! (I still can't get away from "performing" for people). I am also still interested in acting and singing (and still an active SAG member), but I am not actively pursuing it at the moment. If it came across my path again, however, I would definitely embrace it!


    **Check out the Columbia Tri-Star Episode Summary for this episode, presented by Designing Women Tribute. Photos courtesy of Connie Lew & DWT. Special thanks to Toni McMahon.



    Broadway's Dreamgirl Makes a Comeback In 'Millie'

    "Sheryl Lee Ralph brings showbiz muscle to the role of the chorus girl
    who struck it rich."
    ~ Daily News


    Sheryl Lee RalphTelevision fans may know her best from It's A Living or Moesha, or maybe even as Designing Women's strong-willed Etienne, but Sheryl Lee Ralph is back on Broadway, and for many theater buffs, all is now right with the world.

    Theatergoers are rushing down to Broadway's Marquis Theatre to see Sheryl Lee Ralph's showstopping performance in the hit musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, which opened April 18th to critical acclaim. Her amazing performance helped the musical recently win the Tony Award for Best Musical -- one of six Tonys awarded the production after a whopping 11 nominations.

    A comedy musical based on the 1967 Julie Andrews film of the same name, Thoroughly Modern Millie is set in the '20s during the Jazz Age when women were becoming "modern" -- changing their hairstyles, raising their hemlines, entering the workforce and rewriting the rules of love and romance. It tells the story of an ambitious young flapper named Millie, who moves to New York City to become thoroughly "modern" and win the heart of a wealthy man.

    "Sheryl Lee Ralph, whose Deena Jones in Dreamgirls remains a treasured memory for this writer, is a captivating, larger-than-life, radiant presence as the outsized Muzzy." ~ nytheatre.com

    Sheryl Lee plays Muzzy Van Hossmere, a 1920s cabaret star who helps young Millie land the perfect man, and a role originated by the wacky Carol Channing in the film version. But entertainer-turned-socialite Muzzy has undergone a big change from the movie's free-spirited and flighty Channing. Diva Sheryl Lee puts her own sultry and sassy spin on the character, delivering a more Josephine Baker-esque performance worthy of her personal talents.

    Sheryl Lee Ralph


    "Sheryl Lee Ralph carves out her own identity far from the zany Carol Channing role of the adventurous heiress." ~ Newsday

    "Ralph milks the sassiness for all its worth. . . " ~ Associated Press

    No stranger to the bright lights of Broadway, Ralph won fame in the '80s with her starring role in the musical Dreamgirls. She starred in the Diana Ross-inspired role of Deena Jones, the lead singer of a famous girl group -- a role for which she continues to have a cult following. Millie marks her first return to Broadway since Dreamgirls.

    "As a glamorous widow who befriends Millie, Sheryl Lee Ralph oozes warmth and sass." ~ USA Today

    Sheryl Lee is signed to appear in Thoroughly Modern Millie at least through next Spring, and Broadway junkies couldn't be happier about it. So if you happen to be in New York City for a performance of Thoroughly Modern Millie -- or have already seen it, please feel free to contact us at Belled@topthat.net with your own reviews or feedback on the experience. Tickets for Thoroughly Modern Millie are available through Ticketmaster or Broadway.com.


    **Sources: ModernMillie.com (Official Site), Thoroughly Modern Millie Unofficial Fan Website
    Photos credits: Joan Marcus and HX Magazine, courtesy of Island Girl Productions



    Trivia Answers from Issue #26

    (101) How many years in prison did Randi King serve for killing her abusive husband?

    Five

    (102) Two of Dixie's relatives have played roles on Family Law. Who are they and what characters did they play?

    Dixie's daughter, Ginna, played Randi's daughter, Mary Beth, in the Season 1 episode, "Metamorphosis." Dixie's husband, Hal Holbrook, played Judge Richard Lloyd in the Season 2 episode, "One Mistake."

    (103) One of Suzanne Sugarbaker's ex-husbands has a recurring role in Family Law. Who is the actor and his roles on Designing Women and Family Law?

    Gregg Henry played Suzanne's ex-husband, Jack Dent, in the episode "Grand Slam, Thank You Ma'am." In Family Law, he played Michael Holt, the man who left Lynn (Kathleen Quinlan) and their law practice, thus providing the show's premise. He continued to be a recurring character.

    (104) Delta Burke made a guest appearance in one of Family Law's stars' previous shows. What was the show?

    Delta appeared with Family Law star Tony Danza on his series Who's The Boss.