"TRUE BLUE" by John Wooley
first time former Tulsan Paula Trickey calls, she's on her bicycle on the
beach, pedaling to the seaside set for her TV series, "Pacific Blue."
And she's apologizing for not calling at exactly the appointed time.
"I tried to get away at 10 o'clock, but we were in the middle of a scene and they wouldn't let me leave," she explains cheerfully. "I said, 'Hey, you've got to let me go. This is a Tulsa interview.'"
They let her go, but as quickly as she left the set, someone was dispatched to call her back. So here she is, riding back along the beach on the state-of-the-art TREK-Y bike that also serves as her pursuit vehicle in the USA Network series.
"Yes, I've got you on my cel phone, how pretentious," she says with a chuckle. "Hey - guess what happened this weekend? My team won first place in the Jackie Robinson Golf Classic at the Wilshire Country Club, and I don't even golf. We beat Frankie Avalon's team and everybody else's. I went out and bought clubs, took one lesson, and said,'OK, I can do this golf classic.' I even hit the winning putt at the end - a 30-footer, nothing but net, and I was still pulling the price tags off the putter. It's supposed to be on ESPN later on this year."
With that, she signs off to go finish her scene, promising to call back as soon as it's over. A couple of hours later, she does.
Trickey is a 1985 Miss Teen Oklahoma who left home after high school to go to Dallas and then to Los Angeles, pursuing the elusive, often frustrating, trade of film and TV acting. In 1996, after years of small parts and guest roles, she landed the "Pacific Blue" job. The series became a hit, and Paula Trickey suddenly found herself a television star.
In the weekly show, Trickey plays Officer Cory McNamara, a bicycle cop patrolling Santa Monica and Venice Beach. Press material describes her character as "beautiful" and "by-the-book," but it doesn't indicate the witty ebullience you get in a conversation with Trickey herself.
And if you'd like to get her started, ask her about how she responds to the frequent description of her series as " 'Baywatch' on bikes."
"I know people say that, and I feel it's completely unfair to the show," she says. "We're not a montage of hooters running down the beach. We have a story line, our characters have depth, it's not a T&A show at all.
" 'Baywatch' is going to be on our network next year, and I think people will be able to see the difference even more then, especially with the writers we have now. They're even talking about doing a crossover, where one of our characters goes to 'Baywatch' and one of theirs comes to our show."
The new writers, Trickey believes, are a major reason that the quality of the show has improved.
"The writing's getting better - thank goodness - and we're going for a little bit more drama and less of the comedy we had in the first season," she explains. "I mean, we're not going to be 'The X-Files' when we grow up, but it's going to be interesting. We have writers now who are writing for our characters. Now, it's not so much "Freeze, turkey' and we book'em. They're writing more for the individual personalities of our characters, our back-stories, who we are as people. This season, I get to cry and rant and rave and act like a person instead of just a hero. It's exciting."
Trickey and the rest of the "Pacific Blue" cast and crew are now in the middle of shooting episodes for what is, according to press material, the program's third season.
"It's considered the third season, but technically, it's season two and a half," she notes. "We shot 13 episodes the first season, 22 the second season, and we're shooting 22 this season. This isn't going to be the last season, either. We've built our audience up, and we're very popular overseas. We're making a nice, steady climb."
Which could also describe Paula Trickey's career to this point: a nice, steady climb from bit actress to TV star.
"No, not a star," she says. "I mean, it's fun being on the beach and having people come up to you for autographs and getting their pictures taken with you. And it's fun when people recognize me on the street. I always just say, "Cool. Thanks for watching the show.'
"But to me, this is what I do for a living. To the people, it's really surreal. But to me, it's my job, and I get up at 5 in the morning to do it. So I don't see a lot of the glamour. It's just something I work at, and I've worked at it a long time. I've worked and I've earned it, and I'm still working and still earning."
"I'm climbing the ladder," she concludes. "But I think the climb will always go on."
Former Tulsan Paula Trickey has realistic hopes for her his television series, USA Network's "Pacific Blue": "We're not going to be 'The X-Files' when we grow up," she said, "but it's going to be interesting."