Thursday, April 25

Star aims to save planet with painted message


Star aims to save planet with painted message

Actress contributes to troubled society through pottery
store

By Rodney Tanaka

Daily Bruin Staff

Planet Paint, 90049.

Gabrielle Carteris changed her zip code. She played the
studious, square Andrea Zuckerman on "Beverly Hills, 90210" for
five seasons. Now her focus has shifted from Brandon’s sideburns to
the growth of her business venture.

Carteris enters Planet Paint dressed in a vest and jeans. Planet
Paint is a bright, spacious ceramics store in Brentwood. Customers
choose unfinished pieces to decorate and design to their
liking.

The pieces are fired and held until claimed by their owners.
Behind her, a shelf displays an assortment of colorful plates and
figurines. A painting of a child holding the earth completes the
wall decoration.

"It’s really about not just opening a store, but doing something
that we felt gave back to the community," Carteris says. "The idea
of this is it is about the planet; it’s about what can we do to
make a difference – and have a good time while we’re doing it."

The company donates a percentage of its profits to a rotating
roster of local and international charities. Carteris’ desire to
make a difference does not end with her business.

Last fall, her talk show, "Gabrielle," debuted among a logjam of
new chatfests. In October, People Magazine’s television critic,
David Hiltbrand, wrote that "Gabrielle" "has bounce and vitality,
helped along by daytime’s rowdiest audience. Carteris’ smooth
manner – like a younger, unpretentious Sally Jesse Raphael – gives
this show the best chance of succeeding."

Hiltbrand’s review proved complementary but not prophetic.
Carteris’ show was recently cancelled, with her final shows
scheduled to air this month. The short run does not diminish her
enthusiasm for her accomplishments.

"I think we were really recognized for being different,"
Carteris says. "There was a real glut of talk shows this year and I
think we were clumped with them."

Carteris mentions several episodes with pride, including shows
that dealt with abducted children and reactions to the Million Man
March. A show on drunk driving sent a group of young people to the
morgue where a room was filled with the victims of drunk driving
accidents. An audience member volunteered to drive a simulator
throughout the show while taking shots of tequila. Toward the end
of the show, the volunteer said he felt fine.

"We had him take the test and he killed three people," Carteris
says. "He almost started crying. He said, ‘I can’t believe that I
thought I could do it. I’ve really failed.’"

An experience as chilling as the morgue visit occurred while
filming "Face the Hate," a 1993 special that confronted racism, or
hate-ism to be precise.

"I think that people use race as an excuse to express
self-hate," Carteris says. "It’s more than racism, it’s a
hate-ism."

Carteris spent time with two families in Pennsylvania for the
show. The local police were notified of their presence for fear
that the families, who knew Carteris is Jewish, would react with
violence. She was greeted by a man who asked if she was afraid.
Carteris lied and said she was not frightened.

"He said, ‘My hands are ringing with anticipation of killing
you,’" Carteris says. "That was how my day started."

Carteris met the rest of the family. The daughter explained her
interpretation of the Bible.

"They said Christ would come back and mark all the Jews, and
they as soldiers would kill us," Carteris says. "I said, ‘So right
now if Christ came down and told you I was Jewish what would you
do?’ The little girl, who was about 14, said, ‘I would pull out a
gun and kill you.’"

The family asked for her picture and autograph at the end of the
day. Carteris asked a 9-year-old girl if she learned anything from
the visit. The girl replied that Carteris was different.

"She said, ‘You’re nice,’" Carteris says. "I said, ‘Some people,
no matter what their religion or race, are nice and some aren’t
nice, and you need to always remember that."

Carteris learned some lessons of her own while filming the
special.

"You can’t just live your life in fear," Carteris says. "We
really need to be educating our children if our world is going to
be positive and much more loving and embracing, and not pass on our
hate."

Carteris can begin changing the world in her own home with her
daughter, Kelsey Rose. Her pregnancy occurred while still a cast
member of Fox’s "Beverly Hills, 90210." Her character, Andrea,
evolved from a reserved student dedicated to her high school
newspaper to a married college student juggling studies and the
responsibilities of motherhood.

"Through the years, we became more and more alike because the
writers start to write in your voice," Carteris says. "I liked
Andrea. If I had to have a friend, I would have chosen her as a
friend."

PATRICK LAM/Daily Bruin

Gabrielle Carteris has moved from "90210" to Planet Paint.

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