Today's cuppa: it looks like coffee, but it's a cup of sadness
Took a look at my Facebook page earlier today and was stunned to see an update from one of my Facebook pals, writer/producer Tim Minear, saying that actor/singer Andy Hallett had died from heart failure at the far-too-young age of 33.
Click here for Zap2it's story.
For several seasons, Hallett played the green-skinned, singing demon Lorne on The WB's "Angel," the spin-off from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Plucked from obscurity by show executive producer Joss Whedon, the tall guy from Cape Cod wound up with a life far beyond his dreams.
He had an impact on my life, as well. If memory serves, I did the first interview that Hallett had ever done, and he was more than a little nervous, but charming and funny. Unfortunately, it's so many years and moves and computers ago, I no longer have a copy of the story.
I do have a copy of another story, from early 2003, but first, an Andy Hallett story of my own.
In January 2004, I was attending the winter edition of the biannual Television Critics Association Press Tour, held in this instance at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood. I believe it was a Tuesday — days tend to run together at this thing — and The WB had a morning press conference for the cast of "Angel."
Stacey Levin, then the show's publicist from 20th Century Fox Studios (which produced "Buffy" and "Angel"), came to me at my seat about halfway back in the ballroom and asked if I would mind sitting in the front row. It seems Hallett was going to perform for the TV critics in full makeup and was nervous about it, so she felt it would be helpful if he saw a familiar face (I had done, and continued to do, lots of "Buffy" and "Angel" stories).
All unknowing what lay in store, I agreed. Hallett came out, singing his signature tune, "Lady
Marmalade." Then he tried to get the TV critics to sing along.
Finally he came to me, a pleading look in his eyes, singing away, and stuck the microphone in my face.
I took a deep breath, and belted out, "Creole Lady Marmalaaaaaade!" And you know what? I didn't sound half bad (which doesn't mean I'm not happy there probably isn't a recording in existence).
That marks the first and only time I have ever sung in front of my fellow TV journalists (along with an odd number of publicists, WB executives and the entire cast of "Angel").
On Twitter today, I received a tweet from Keith Marder (a k a @keithmarder), a former TV critic who later on did publicity for The WB, saying, "I was there for your rendition of 'Lady Marmalade.' It was awesome."
Also got an email from Paul McGuire, a current PR exec for The CW who was also a PR exec for The WB — and present at the great event — saying, "Andy Hallett in full regalia wailing 'Lady Marmalade' as he walked the aisles of the TCA was one of the most surreal moments in Press Tour history. Sad news about a very sweet, talented guy who will be missed."
So, farewell Andy, you will never be forgotten, and you are missed.
Here's the interview from 2003:
The Regular Guy
Fri, Feb 28, 2003
by Kate O'Hare
A few years ago, Andy Hallett of The WB's "Angel" was just a kid from
struggling to make it as a singer in Los
Angeles, with zero acting experience.
Now, he's schmoozing with reporters and fellow thespians at the network's
biannual press party — even if not everybody there recognizes him. In case you
unknowingly passed by, he was the very tall, dark-haired, dark-eyed guy in the
tan hound’s-tooth coat — and there's not a lot of hound’s-tooth in your
average WB star's wardrobe.
Stepping outside the party onto a balcony to talk, Hallett can't wait to share
word of recent good fortune.
"I got good news the other day," he says.
"They made me a series regular. I was thrilled."
Although Hallett went from unknown to primetime series regular in
two-and-a-half seasons, it doesn't mean he hasn't suffered for his art.
"Talk to my makeup artist about that!" he says.
"This is his first real job ever," says co-star Charisma Carpenter.
"Isn't it sad, how long it takes some of us to get into it, and he's
there, and it's like he's been there for 10 years. Hallelujah! He's the
On "Angel," currently in its fourth season and airing Wednesdays,
Hallett plays Lorne (short for Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan), a
green-skinned, red-eyed, horned demon from another dimension, with a sharp wit
and pipes made for belting out lounge standards.
He used to run a demon-karaoke bar called Caritas, where otherworldly creatures
could come in, hum a few bars and have Lorne (who was then referred to as The
Host) read their destinies. After that place was blown up twice — and after a
brief, disastrous stint in musical servitude in
old hotel that serves as the home base for Angel (David Boreanaz) and his
Hallett officially joins the opening credits of "Angel" in an episode
called "Release," scheduled to air March 12. This, of course, means
many more lengthy sessions in the makeup chair, being transformed into his
demonic alter ego.
"The makeup artist makes it so comfortable," says Hallett. "This
year, he even bought a 13-inch, flat-screen TV and a DVD player, so I can watch
movies when I'm in there. Before, it was three hours staring at the mirror. He
and I talk, but there are a lot of times I can't talk because he's working on
"He keeps the air conditioning on for me. It's so pleasant. I couldn't ask
for anything more. I used to have a lot of difficulty with it, but now it's
Any future discomfort no doubt will be offset by employment security, which
came in a surprise phone call from "Angel" executive producer Joss
"I was in my trailer, and one of the girls knocked on
the door and said, 'You've got a call from Joss Whedon's office. I think it's
kind of important.'
"I'm like, 'No, tell him I'm busy! Tell him I have a towel on my head, and
I won't take the call.' No, seriously, I get on the phone with him, and he
says, 'How are you?' 'Fine.' ‘What are
you doing?' 'Nothing.' 'I have some good news. I wanted to let you know that,
for the back nine, we are making you a series regular.'
“I was shocked, stunned. I called my agent. I was totally
So far in his run on "Angel," Lorne has been beaten up, beheaded
(it's OK, it was reattached) and knocked out with ridiculous frequency. Oh, and
this year, he had a hole drilled in his head so the evil lawyers from the
demon-run firm of Wolfram & Hart could extract information on a marauding
"The other day," Hallett recalls,” I went into work, and I have
another scene in episode 14 where, of course, I'm unconscious. I said when I
walked in, 'What the hell is going on here? Are we trying to find out how many
times I can be knocked out, wounded, shot, grilled — all these unbelievable
wild things?' Every single thing you can possibly imagine has been done to me.
If that's not a hint, right?
"But it's great. Now that I know the series-regular stuff, I'm 100 percent
committed to them."
Every now and then, Hallett gets to sing on the show, most recently performing
a Vegas version of a personal favorite, Patti LaBelle's "Lady
Marmalade." Fans keep wondering when Hallett is going to put out a CD.
Hallett wonders, as well.
"We talked about it a little while ago," he says, "and yes, we
have a couple of companies that have approached us. My dear friend Mark Lutz —
he played the Groosalugg on 'Angel' — he said, 'What the hell is your problem?
Why won't you get off your butt and do something?' I don't have an answer. I
really don't know why. I want to do it. It's something I've wanted to do my
"The first company that called asked to do something like 'Lorne's
Favorite Standards,' something like that — favorite songs I've done on the
show. We'll see what happens."
Asked what Lorne is up to for the rest of the season, Hallett says, "
Lorne is doing his normal lounging around the hotel, trying to get spells
right, getting visions, getting them wrong and finding out way too late in the
game, after something terrible has happened … getting shot, beaten up,
"The other day, I spent the whole day on the ground with my eyes shut. It
was like, 'That was very relaxing.' I had a relaxing day on the floor at
As for celebrity perks, Hallett is just happy to have met a favorite singer of
his at the WB party. "I like Reba McEntire," he says. "She was
the only one I was excited meeting, and she was so sweet to me."