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A Year of mixed blessings....

At the 1,000 th performance of Waitress
At the Brooks Atkinson Theatre

At Murphy Brown
With Faith Ford aka Corky Sherwood

Happy Holidays 2018-19

So... to be honest 2018 was not my favorite year! There were three hospitalizations (including two surgeries on my kidneys)! For the first time in more than a decade, I could not attend one single pageant.... And most sadly , the passing of my dear friend, Chelsi Smith. Chelsi represented Texas when she won the the title of Miss USA in1995 and later that year she won the Miss Universe crown as well! Chelsi remained a “Queen of Beauty” in all aspects inside and out throughout her life... it was both and honor and privilege to know her... She will continue to be loved and missed by myself and many others.

Other minor disappointments came and went through the year, like any other year... That said, there were a couple of highlights too.

It was a Winter Olympic year. And in, my favorite sport of figure skating, there were some amazing performances ! All the Gold Medalist are worthy Olympic Champions but for me the performance of Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot in the pair event was unsurpassed! Simply glorious skating....

But of course, the true highlight for me were our own US ice dance double Bronze Medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani! Skating their best programs of the season went it mattered most, they showed themselves to be more than the excellent technicians they are reputed to be, but also true artists and champions as well!

The other highlight of my year was, of course, the reboot of Murphy Brown!
News of the return of my all time favorite sitcom came just after the start of the year and ironically on the same day I received a rare phone call from my very busy friend, Kurt Browning! Kurt and I celebrated 30 years of friendship in 2018, having met at the 1988 World Figure Skating Championships in Budapest, Hungary. We don’t get to see each other much anymore. I don’t travel as much, and there are far fewer skating events in North America as there once were. Kurt lives in Toronto and I live in Southern California...you get the idea...

Anyway, he found out that I was preparing for surgery yet again, and as he usually does, he found time to call to offer support. I think he was at an airport on his way somewhere... as I say he finds time where he can. I truly appreciate that!

Mostly we just talk about anything except my health situation. He tries to take my mind off of things. Somehow this conversation rambled its way to how much I wanted to take another trip to NYC! Mostly, so I could eat! Oh how I love the pizza there, the pretzels you buy on the street and so much more....
Of course, I love Broadway musicals too!

Although I didn’t realize it at the time the reboot of Murphy Brown would provide the perfect opportunity for just such a trip. Back then, my mind was only on my surgery. But after I recovered, I was communicating via internet with our wonderful friend, Faith Ford. Mom and I met Faith when we were audience members at the original Murphy Brown which filmed at Warner Brothers studios in Burbank, California. A college friend, Gina Altizer was perusing an acting career and was telling me that she had landed a small role on the sitcom.
Having told her it was my favorite, Gina arranged through people she met, for Mom and I to attend a filming. The original series was done on film not videotape.

Long story short, that was the middle of Season Five. When they shot their “last episode “ at the end of Season Ten, we were still there. We had been in the audience nearly every Friday night they worked. We had gotten to know all of the regular cast, but remained especially close to Faith. We attended many different shows she worked on through the years.

So after my first surgery, she asked if there was any way Mom and I could fly to New York (Candice Bergen and most of the cast live in NYC now... except Faith, who went back to her native Louisiana!) where they they would now be taping.
After thinking about we decided it was a great opportunity! Then.... the second kidney surgery reared its ugly head.

Plans were put on hold. I didn’t know how how soon I’d been able to travel ! But everything went even better than my wonderful surgeon, Dr. Landman thought it would ....and before long, we were off to the Big Apple!

I loved being back where I was born! The energy and the pace of the city, and particularly, the Times Square area where we were staying has always appealed to me. The food is incredible! We ate pizza and cheesecake and bagels and pretzels and so much more. I felt so much better than I had in quite some time.
We saw two joyous musicals, Waitress and Wicked! Each was spectacular in its own way. I had forgotten that there is nothing that quite compares with a true Broadway production! For me, the feeling of being in an authentic Broadway theatre in absolutely indescribable. It was sort of Christmas in September if you can imagine. Still, the best was yet to come!

As we were escorted onto the set and Murphy’s classic townhouse appeared before us it was more emotional that I could have anticipated... and then there was “Phil’s Bar” too... Honestly, tears filled my eyes, as Faith warned me they might. The cast was introduced. They spotted us and waved. As soon as they were able each of them made there way over. It was incredible to see Candice Bergen and Joe Regalbuto after more than 20 years! Wow! Grant Shaud, who plays Miles Silverberg, even remarked that he could not believe we made the trip. We were thrilled to meet the new cast members Tyne Daly, Jake McDorman, Nik Dodani, Aidan Rocha, and Andre Ward. All of them, as well and the crew and staff at Kauffman Astoria Studios were as warm as welcoming as could be.
Thanks to Faith Ford, and her amazing husband, Campion Murphy,
for everything they did to make this trip a dream come true! We love you guys!

The episode itself was excellent! Of course, if you saw episode #6, the
elections episode, you already know that! Who says you can’t go home again?

All too soon, it was over. With tearful goodbyes, especially with Faith, of an all too brief reunion, we were on our way.... with hopes of another season.... so that perhaps we can do it again.

With that, I wish that all your hopes and dreams are fulfilled in 2019, and that we all enjoy Happy Holidays and a Fabulous New Year!

Love Always,
The Baker Family
(Joann, John and Shandi)

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