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A Night at the Museum

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 20, 2005

CBS held its meet-and-greet with stars of new and returning shows on Tuesday night at Los Angeles's Hammer Museum. Scattered among the stars were plenty of Buckeyes.

Looking for future stories, I chatted with Canton's Brannon Braga, the writer-producer from the ''Star Trek'' family, about a new series he is producing, ''Threshold.'' And with Carter Bays, a writer-producer from Shaker Heights, whose latest series is the comedy ''How I Met Your Mother.''

I didn't talk only to people from Northeast Ohio -- also spending some time with, among others, '"CSI'' creator Anthony Zuiker and ''Numb3rs'' star Rob Morrow.

Of course, one of my favorite actors from back home is Melina Kanakaredes of Akron, now co-starring on ''CSI: NY.'' She is talkative, thoroughly quotable and funny, and I have written a column about her in Thursday's Beacon Journal. Even better, she never forgets the folks back home.

The CBS event had started about 7, and Melina was on the list of people expected to attend. I went there mainly to talk to her and Braga (who is also a pretty good guy, and seems happier now that he's doing a show that doesn't have ''Star Trek'' in the title). But after a couple of hours, there was still no sign of Melina.

Suddenly, she appeared, working her way through the crowd to say hello to me and to Mark Dawidziak, the former Beacon Journal TV writer now at the Plain Dealer. Turns out she had been shooting ''CSI: NY'' that day and had gotten finished late. But a commitment is a commitment, and she came to the event -- even if that meant arriving well after some performers had come and gone.

Not long after we started talking, a publicist pulled her away for a photo. More than a little time passed wthout her returning. Then the publicist reappeared, bearing the message that Melina had gotten caught in conversations with other people and had not yet been able to get back.

Believe me when I tell you that plenty of other actors would not have worried for a second about leaving a couple of reporters behind. But with Melina, that was not the case. Figuring that she would not get back our way easily, Mark and I went to her, waited while she finished a conversation and then resumed our talk with Melina.

It was a relaxed, free-wheeling conversation (ranging from ''CSI'' to Melina's speaking only Greek at home -- not least so her daughters will know the language). She answered every question with a smile and more than one laugh.

She's been that way as long as I have been talking to her, even after I have given some of her shows unkind reviews. When people complain about snooty or standoffish actors -- and I have seen some of those, too -- I try to remember that there are also people like Melina.

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