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Amy Pietz Actress

Amy Pietz

Amy is best recognized for her naughty and promiscuous role as "Annie" from the famous sitcom "Caroline In The City". Pietz received a 1998 Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy. Other television credits include a regular role on The Webster Show and Muscle, as well as a recurring character on Ally McBeal. She has starred in the telefilms Call for Help and All Lines End in Murder, and guest starred in series such as ER, CSI, The Drew Carey Show and The Division. Pietz's theater credits include originating the role of Martha Boswell in the musical The Boswell Sisters at The Old Globe Theater, Christmas In Naples, at the Williamstown Theater Festival, the musicals Fiorello and Company at Reprise LA, and A View from The Bridge and You Can't Take It with You at the Steppenwolf Theater. She also starred in In the Flesh at the Organic Theater, The Love of the Nightingale at the Next Theater, A Dead Man's Apartment at the Met Theater and Waiting for Lefty at the Artistic Home, and produced the musical Xanadu Live at the Gasco Center Theater. She performed in radio plays with L.A. Theater Works, including A View from the Bridge (in addition to the stage play), The South Paw, After the Fall, Voir Dire, Dinosaur Dreams, The Cherry Orchard, Middle of the Night and Fallsettos. Film credits include Rudy, Jingle All the Way, Jell-Ohh Lady (which she also produced), Dysenchanted and The Whole Ten Yards. Pietz is a founding member of the Eclipse Theater Company in Chicago and a graduate of the former Goodman School of Drama, which awarded her an "Excellence in the Arts" award for her work in radio, television and theater. Pietz is currently in rehearsals for an open-ended run of Lobby Hero by Kenneth Lonergan at the Odyssey Theater. A Wisconsin native, she resides in Los Angeles with her husband, actor and director Kenny Williams, their two dogs and a cat. Pietz was born on March 6, 1969, in Wisconsin.

Pietz herself is quite comfortable on the stage. The actress, who hails from Milwaukee, began her career in theater, earning a B.F.A. in acting from Chicago's DePaul University and appearing in several Windy City stage productions. She never did make it to Broadway. "I kind of bypassed it and came to L.A. a little quicker than I thought I would," she says.

Which is surprising given that Pietz laughingly admits that, at first, she was reluctant to do television. "I know it's snobby, but in my training program I was constantly inundated with people with opinions that were unfavorable towards television," she says. "But I always knew deep down that I wanted to be on a sitcom."

The actress made her TV debut just a few years back with a small part as a security guard on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Then came a role as a lesbian newscaster on Muscle, which got canceled after 13 episodes. Soon after, Pietz was cast on Caroline in the City. She might not have auditioned for the NBC sitcom if it weren't for her fiancé, actor Kenny Williams. "He had auditioned for a part that was completely cut out of the pilot, the part of Lea's brother, and he came home and said that this was going to be a huge hit. He heard through the grapevine that people were excited about it, and he loved the script," she recalls. "He said, 'Try to get an audition for this. You might be right for something.'"

His hunch was right. Pietz has won rave reviews for her performance as Caroline's sidekick. She, in turn, has nothing but praise for the show's star. "[Thompson] has a great attitude about things, and it really rubs off on us," Pietz says.

The women bonded right away; they're outnumbered by the men on the show, which include Eric Lutes as Del, Malcolm Gets as Richard and Andrew Lauer as Charlie. As for the guys, "I adore them," says Pietz. "We're all very different. Eric is a Rhode Islander with theater training and kind of conservative; Malcolm is from Yale Drama School and he's very intense and a lot like his character; and Andy's pulling pranks all the time. He leaves the country every weekend to go on these wild adventures."

Pietz has been spending much of her free time planning her wedding to Williams. They will tie the knot in May in Milwaukee. "It was Kenny's idea to have the wedding there," says Pietz. "I was like, 'Let's get married in your hometown.' He's from Chicago, which is a little more exciting, so we're struggling to make this wedding as fun as possible."

While her personal life is on course, Pietz is also moving forward professionally. She plays a syrupy-sweet newscaster in the upcoming Arnold Schwarzenegger film Jingle All the Way. "It's a very small part, but it was a blast," says Pietz. Unfortunately, she didn't get an opportunity to hang out with the muscle-bound movie star. "I got work with him—and about 400 or 500 other people [during a parade scene]," she explains. "It was a very big scene—no close contact."

On the small screen, the actress will appear in the upcoming ABC TV movie Behind Every Good Man which stars Kim Delaney of NYPD Blue. Pietz plays the wife of a corrupt police officer. "I'm not at all a fan of movies of the week," says Pietz. But she couldn't turn down the project when she learned the script was written by Lynn Mamet, sister of famed playwright David Mamet.

With her career on a roll, how does Pietz handle her increasing fame? "It's nice. It's really nice. I'm not the kind of person who gets recognized because I never wear makeup on the street, and I look really crappy most of the time. It's true," she laughs. "That's just how I look, and so I very rarely get recognized." For now, that is.

Amy Pietz: City Girl

Indeed not everyone takes their show's cancellation badly. Amy Pietz starred on the NBC sitcom Caroline in the City for four years, from 1995 to 1999, when she got news the show would not be coming back for a fifth. "It was wonderful news," Pietz says bluntly. After attending the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago and appearing onstage at the Steppenwolf and Organic Theatre companies, she came to L.A. for pilot season and, in her own words, "pretty much started working right away."

On Caroline, Pietz played Annie, the spunky and frank best friend of Lea Thompson's title character. Years before critics began sniping that Will & Grace would have been more entertaining as "Jack & Karen," Pietz was perfecting the part of the scene-stealing sidekick who deserved her own show. She won critical raves and a SAG nomination for her work, and she thoroughly enjoyed her time on the show. "There was nothing more thrilling than hearing the audience laugh," she recalls. "I got a real high off that. It was like doing a new play every week." So why was the cancellation good news? "I had never done a part for that long," Pietz explains. "I had never played one role, and I was definitely looking forward to doing other things that I'd been trained to do theatrically and to doing drama." Pietz purposely avoided auditioning for sitcoms for a number of pilot seasons, wanting to concentrate on dramatic programs. "I really wanted to be part of a different rhythm," she continues. "I was so sick of: 'set-up, set-up, joke.' I can't even tell you. I was just really not interested in it anymore. I think it's true for every actor, that you need variety." She made a brief return to the sitcom world in 2000 for the much-maligned The Weber Show, originally titled Cursed, mainly because she wanted to work with star Steven Weber. "I thought he was a terrific performer, and it would be wonderful fun to work with him," she notes. "And that part of it was true. Thank God. The rest of it ... auugh."

Pietz sounds almost embarrassed to admit she wasn't at all concerned about job security. "I mean, there's tons of work out there, and I just always have believed that I would work. I wasn't worried. I was worried I might be perceived in a particular light that might limit my choices, and I think that was true to a certain extent. But I never thought, 'I'll never get another job again!'"

One of the reasons Pietz wasn't concerned was because of her strong theatre background, and her love of live stage work helped her keep things in perspective. She performed regularly at several theatres and with L.A. Theatreworks. Most recently she wrapped a production of Stephen Sondheim's Company, for which she received rave reviews. Beginning July 10 she will be appearing at the Odyssey Theatre in a production of Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero, directed by her husband, Kenneth Alan Williams. Keeping busy was key for Pietz, and not just in the acting arena. "I've been very busy," she says. "I think last summer was the only summer I didn't do anything theatrically or film-wise or television-wise. And that's when I decided to become a doula."

A doula, she explains, is a birthing coach who physically and emotionally supports women through childbirth. Pietz took training courses and education classes and is on her way to being certified by Doulas of North America. It's been a passion of hers for years, since she gave up a child for adoption many years ago. "At that point I realized I wanted to help other women have non-traumatic birth experiences," she says. "It's always been a goal of mine to do this, and I'm so grateful that I can do this and still have acting."

The experience has also helped her keep the sometimes crazy world of show business in perspective. "I just like to balance out the selfishness and self-centeredness of my acting career with something that's selfless and serves others," she notes, adding that she is not paid as a doula. "It actually makes me a better actress. It makes me more excited and thrilled to be an actress, because I don't place my entire identity on that. It's the most meaningful thing in the world to me. I absolutely love it."

Her schedule is about to get even more crowded, as a pilot she appeared in was recently picked up for the fall season. Titled Rodney, after standup star Rodney Carrington, the sitcom was recently announced as part of ABC's new lineup. "I was very leery about it originally because I have prejudices about comedians being actors," Pietz admits. "Because you're asking them to do something they're not necessarily trained to do. But Rodney is the most generous performer I've worked with, onstage and off. He's just an amazing human being."

She has high hopes for the show but also knows there are many more opportunities if it doesn't take off. And to actors looking for their first or 50th break, she offers the following: "Realize that so much of it is luck and out of your control. Stay busy. Go back to class every chance you get. If you write, write your own material. And I would encourage actors to treat each other better than they do and not judge each other, because everybody's trying their best.

A Cheddar Head For A Producer

The loyal Wisconsinite sacrificed her prized Cheddar Head in order to produce a show. But, we've gotten ahead of ourselves. Amy Pietz became a household fixture in the hit television series Caroline in the City. For the entire four seasons that the sitcom aired Amy played Caroline's neighbor, Annie Spidaro, an actress who was a feline in the Broadway production of Cats.

Prior to landing the role the singer/actress turned producer hadn't seen Cats. "I did in doing my research for Caroline in the City. I hadn't seen it before that. And, I thought the performers were wonderful, but I think it's a really stupid show."

So did a lot of people, but those cats a had more than nine lives, in a show that became Broadway's longest running show, finally hanging up the whiskers on Sunday, September 10, 2000, after nearly 18 years and a record 7,485 performances.

Caroline in the City didn't run that long but it enabled Pietz to squirrel away enough have the luxury of living out her I Want To Be A Producer dream. She's the brains and bank account behind Xanadu Live currently running in Los Angeles at the Gascon Theater.

She spoke with Broadway To Vegas about her transformation.
"I thought I wanted to be a producer," laughed Pietz."It's hard. I live for theater and so does my husband," she said referring to Kenneth Alan Williams, whom she met when they were acting in Chicago. They married in May of 1997, in her hometown of Milwaukee.

"We saw this production of Xanadu at the Williamstown Theater Festival last summer while I was doing a play there. It was a one night only showcase. And, I really had one of the best audience experiences in the theater that I had ever had. It was just so joyful. It was the antithesis of New York and Los Angeles theater in that it took itself seriously - not.

"I thought that I wanted to bring it to Los Angeles and so did my husband. We got the same director and the same person to play Olivia Newton-John. The director also adapted the piece," related Amy referring to Yale School of Drama graduate Annie Dorsen. "It has been really hard to produce this thing, but after we opened, it is so worth it."

In the movie a young album-painter learns a lesson about daring to dream when he is kissed by a magical muse. Throwing caution to the wind, he partners up with a wealthy former jazz musician to start-up a roller disco nightclub, but finds that one of his dreams might be too lofty--even for the powers that be.

"I went to the movie in Wisconsin," exclaimed Amy, who was raised in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek and doesn't look old enough to have been alive when the film was released.

"I was a big fan of Olivia Newton-John," explained Pietz. "I used to sing her records on my little plastic record player. I thought she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life and I wanted to be her. I saw Xanadu with my cousin, who also used to sing along with me and Olivia's records. I thought it was a fabulous movie, but then I didn't think anything more about it, really."

The critics didn't share Pietz's enthusiasm and Xanadu joined the ranks of cult movies.

"We have received E-mails from fans all over the world," stressed Amy. "There are people in San Francisco, D.C. and Vegas who want to produce this show. It does have a huge following, although the following is underground. And, those underground fans are waving to surface. They are very happy that we are giving them the opportunity to surface.

"My husband and I are the sole investors," Amy explained. " We own the show. There are 24 cast members and 75 costume changes. Our entire budget was doubled."

"The numbers have been crunched to do it in some sort of New York off Broadway 250-seat theater. But, it is a tricky, tricky thing. Because I think it has to be done in a particular way for it to make any money."

"We have faith and that faith is in two areas. In the pure entertainment value of the show itself and also - even though we are novice producers - we have faith that we well surround ourselves with people who know more than us. Then the pure joy of it will bring other investors on board. And, we will figure out a way for it to make some money."

"On this production we are completely in the red and we are going to be donating money to Breast Cancer," said Amy referring to the production donating a portion of the proceeds to the American Cancer Society's breast cancer programs.

"We did this because of Olivia Newton John. It is her disease. We wanted to make this completely a tribute to her. We don't feel right about making money in the theater right now. Instead of going on a trip to Europe we put up a show. This is our way of having fun"

The production is both the movie Xanadu turned into a stage production as well as "a loving parody," continued Pietz. "Having seen the movie is not necessary to enjoy the stage version."

"I thought it would help if people were familiar with the movie, but when I saw it I was surrounded by people who were 20 years old and they didn't even know there was a movie And, they had a blast," exclaimed Amy.

"They rushed the stage dancing at the end of the show. There was a party afterwards and I was very curious as to their responsiveness. I wanted to find out if this struck them as deeply as it struck me - and it indeed did. They really enjoyed themselves. So, it helps to have seen the movie because it increases your familiarity. However, it is not necessary. The production stands alone."
This isn't the first cult movie to have a stage version - Rocky Horror for example.

"The story in more linear than Rocky Horror she answered. "The story line is quite simple and is easy to follow on stage, as opposed to having to just appreciate the eccentricities of the characters. It is easier to follow than Rocky Horror."

The artists are on roller skates. This is not the first production to require artists to roller skate. Andrew Lloyd Webber did it with Starlight Express. "Somebody told me they did the Marriage of Figaro on skates," injected Amy who wasn't kidding about the Mozart opera, first performed in Vienna, Austria in 1786.

"Safety, of course, is our biggest concern, because we have ramps and inexperienced roller skaters," admitted Pietz. "Part of the fun of watching the production is watching their inexperience and watching them fall and trip. We have a lot of ice packs. We have insurance, of course. We have tried to safety proof the stage as much as possible

"If they do wobble around it's not dangerous looking. You're not supposed to be scared for their safety. We are insured and we have taken every precaution to make sure they don't fall and twist or break an ankle," she repeated.

"We purchased roller skates. A lot of people hadn't even been on roller skates. They had been on roller blades but quads are different."

Amie Barsky well-known competitor on CBS' The Amazing Race not only appears in the Olivia Newton-John role, but co-choreographed the production.
"She's fantastic!" exclaimed Pietz. "She's a phenomenal dancer. And, you know, you were taking about the safety concern of roller skaters. We have a lot of swing dancing in the show and the swing dancing is actually more dangerous than the roller skating because Annie is lifted eight to nine feet in the air. She is really a highlight of the swing numbers"

"And, it's a tight stage. It's only a 99-seat theater. The stage is 16-feet across with four couples doing swing dancing. There are a lot of close calls - heads swinging toward the ground, and leaps in the air. Dancing is the highlight of the show. The choreography with the dance numbers is quite intense."

All of the participants are lip syncing to the actual movie track.

"It is obvious that they are lip syncing because the soundtrack has ELO which is like a 30-piece orchestra, which we obviously don't have," Pietz continued. "What is wonderful about it is that the audience can suspend their disbelief's enough in the performances. That's what is so magical about it. We have a lot of little tricks and surprises. It does take some pointers in lip syncing but it doesn't take great technique," admitted Amy who graduated from Milwaukee High School of the Arts and received a B.F.A. degree in acting from DePaul University (Chicago), and is herself an excellent singer.

"But, it is really fun to watch because you begin to imagine that there really is a 30-piece orchestra on the stage. That is part of the fun. You're sort of transported. It's like watching drag queens lip sync. There is something so great about it you actually start to believe that it is Barbra Streisand or Patti Labelle."

Performing the Gene Kelly part is Amy's husband. Does he dance?

"He does now!" laughed Amy. "He didn't before this. And, this is one of the elements we wanted to keep from the Williamstown production. We have incredible professional dancers. But the whole theme of the show is that the ordinary person can be lifted to extraordinary places. Kenny is an ordinary guy. He actually pulls off a charming, and Irish looking Gene Kelly even though he is a Russian Jew and he is tall and gangly. But, there is something about the essence of it that is captured."

"The Williamstown production had a Hispanic Gene Kelly. It was fabulous. It makes you appreciate Gene Kelly even more - his charm and his warmth in addition to his dancing ability that made it work."

"That is the charm that we wanted to keep from the Williamstown production. That is what makes people feel comfortable and included."

As a native of the Dairy State Pietz is proud of what has made Wisconsin famous.

"Cheese in Wisconsin is quite a delicacy. They are experts at it. I think the original immigrants that settled in Wisconsin had it down pat and knew what they were doing and passed it along to their other relatives.

Amy, however, can't cook - not even a grilled cheese sandwich. Of course, when you're as good looking as Amy, cooking may not be a requirement. Wisconsin loyalists will be relieved to know that Amy does eat cheese - and then there is that Cheddar Head.

"I have a favorite cheese store, which is called Mars Cheese Castle," divulged Amy. "It's on I-94. between Chicago and Milwaukee. It's fabulous. The exterior is built like a castle. It's nice out front. They sell gourmet cheeses, crackers and great beer and wine selection. They serve bratwurst at their counter and you can get great Danish kugel, great Wisconsin things that we used to eat on Sundays while watching football games."
"And, you can get all kinds of goofy cheese paraphernalia there - the cheddar head thing," she said referring to the foam rubber headgear that looks like a wedge of cheddar cheese, worn by loyal Wisconsin football fans.

"In fact, the Cheddar Head we've had was sitting around in our garage. The first day the set was built we were looking for foam to put on the corners of this platform, so that the people didn't bang their knees on it." Amy confessed, "We sacrificed our Cheddar Head by cutting it up and taping it on our stage so people wouldn't injure themselves. So, it did go for a worthwhile cause.

"It is really necessary right now to have distraction from war. So far this production has brought a lot of joy to a few people. So, we hope to bring a little bit of joy to even more people. It seems to be a surprise to the audience how much fun they have. It is great - just wonderful. It's a lot more fun than war."

Amy Pietz: Surviving the Curse of Following Giant Hits

For most of the last five years, Thursday nights on NBC have been Amy Pietz's blessing.

And her curse.

But enough with the "cursed" jokes. Pietz has heard them all.

Formerly Annie, the professional dancer and amateur smart-aleck of "Caroline in the City," Pietz now co-stars as Melissa, the ex-girlfriend for whom Steven Weber still carries a torch in "Cursed"..

Like Annie, Melissa has more spice than sugar in her nature. And like Pietz's first sitcom, her new one has both the advantage and the burden of following one of the leading shows on TV's leading lineup - "Seinfeld" for "Caroline," "Friends" for "Cursed."

It's a slot many actors would give their teeny-tiny cell phones to occupy, but it has a notable drawback: If you don't win big, you lose.

"I think we're getting there," Pietz says hopefully. "At least, I think we're on the right track."

In the most recent Nielsen ratings, "Cursed" was the 12th most watched show in prime time, outdrawing every other freshman series and even such established favorites as "The Practice" and "Frasier." On the other hand, it lost more than one-fifth of the 16.1 million households where "Friends" was on, a fraction NBC can't be thrilled about giving up.

But considering the show's history, "Cursed" could be doing worse. Pietz, who's as direct and no-nonsense as the characters she plays, says that until the last month or so, working on the sitcom was "like bailing out a flooded basement."

The original pilot - an uneasy mix of romantic sitcom and all-out farce in which Weber's character took endless pratfalls after being cursed by a woman he rejected - met with a nearly universal thumbs-down when it was shown to advertisers and critics in early summer. Then, just weeks before the scheduled fall premiere date, the creators and executive producers were fired.

"I don't think anyone was really shocked," recalls Pietz. "They were trying to write an absurdist comedy, and that's difficult to do."

The writing and producing team brought in to remake "Cursed" included several veterans of "Friends," where perfectionism prevails and the retakes are seemingly endless. For Pietz, the change meant both relief - "I finally felt somebody knew what they were doing," she says - and the exhaustion that came with scrambling to get the new show up and running.

Pietz, trained at DePaul University and on the Chicago stage, thinks things may be looking up for her character, too. Not much more than a plot device in the original pilot, Melissa has since taken on a career, sculpting, and more of a personality.

"What I really want to stay away from is the generic girlfriend role," she says, "where you're supposed to be funny but not too funny, edgy but not too edgy. . . . It's OK to be the straight man sometimes, as long as your character has a point of view."

Of "Caroline," which was viewed as something of a Thursday also-ran in its day, she has nothing but good memories. Star Lea Thompson remains a good friend, and the sitcom has done very well for itself in syndication, which means a steady income for its cast.

That's given Pietz the luxury of doing theater, most recently in Los Angeles and Williamstown, Mass.; spending time with her husband, actor Kenny Williams; and taking singing lessons. Her pal Thompson has been touring as Sally Bowles in "Cabaret," and Pietz wouldn't mind following in her footsteps.

For fun and "very little money," she says, she's also been voicing a 24th-century space babe in the online animated series "Starship Regulars" on www.icebox.com. Pietz calls her "sort of a cross between G.I. Jane and Ted Baxter."

Cooking is therapy for 'Caroline in the City' star

Amy Pietz is as adorable in casual clothes at home as she is in front of the camera on "Caroline in the City."

She received her role in the series after only five months in Los Angeles, and she says she counts her lucky stars every night.

Having grown up in a suburb of Milwaukee, she only dreamed of being a television star while watching such idols as Lucille Ball and Mary Tyler Moore. She is, however, a member of the first graduating class of the Milwaukee High School of the Arts, and she earned her bachelor's degree in acting from DePaul University.

She and her husband of one year, actor Kenny Williams, live the Hollywood dream on Los Angeles' West Side in an ethnically mixed neighborhood. Their 10- year-old house is architecturally dramatic with high ceilings.

The rust-and-cream kitchen is large and full of glass, which makes it light and inviting. The doors open onto the yard to let nature inside. Cooking centers around a marble center island.

"I am just learning to cook," Amy admits, "almost more for therapeutic reasons than anything else. I eat less when I am under stress and sometimes have to force myself to eat. With the help of a wonderful homeopathic doctor, I am learning to look at food preparation as a way to handle stress. I am approaching it as an art form and can honestly say I have a great relationship with food.

"But my first real cooking experience was far from stressless. I invited 24 for Thanksgiving and did a huge spread. My parents, who had never been west of the Mississippi, flew out to join us. I made some real gourmet stuff, which they just could not handle. As they were leaving, they confessed that their favorite culinary experience on the trip had been the airplane food!"

Amy said she feels that Americans place too much emphasis on food for the wrong reasons.

"So many people live to eat in stead of eating to live, which I am trying to balance," she said. "I must admit, however, that on a recent biking trip in France, I became addicted to French food. It was a marvelous time at every meal."

Her favorite food, however, comes from south of the border, so that was our menu for this day.

Amy Pietz Of 'Caroline' Faces Season Of Changes

With "Caroline in the City" having completed its second season, and with a return to work still many weeks away, it would seem to be time for Amy Pietz to relax. Not quite. Pietz, who plays Annie Spadaro, an aspiring actress-dancer and gal-pal to Lea Thompson's Caroline in the hit NBC sitcom, is in the midst of change. Onscreen, Pietz's character relocated to Los Angeles toward the end of the season to try to land a role in a TV series. She figures to be there, for a while at least, when the show resumes in the fall.

In real life, she's making a far more radical change: She is two weeks into her marriage to "the man of my dreams."

And there may be change in the long-running conceit on "Caroline" that has Spadaro playing a member of the cast of the Broadway production "Cats." But before cat and "Cats" lovers complain, they should be happy that the "Cats" bit came to be at all.

Originally, Annie Spadaro was headed down a different path. "My character was to have a retail shop," said Pietz, recalling the origins of the show that debuted in the fall of 1995. "The shop was to be called the Binge and Purge," she said. "Pretty tasteless, but I think it's funny. I don't have an eating disorder. They changed it.

"Marco Pennette [one of the show's executive producers] was in New York and walked past the Winter Garden Theater and saw a lot of the "Cats' cast members sitting on the fire escape smoking in costume. Unfortunately, being must-see TV, a network series lead cannot smoke. But I wanted to project the image Marco saw." Making Annie an actress, and one cast in such a familiar play at that, has given Pietz's character a sharp identity.

"I have so much freedom creatively - it would have been an entirely different character" as a shop proprietor, she said. Playing an actress, "I get to be a lot more emotional, and I get to express my emotions physically," Pietz said.

And to wear that neat "Cats" jacket, costume and makeup from time to time.

Having Pietz portray a member of the "Cats" cast is not a casual matter. There are "nice diplomatic relations" with the New York and touring companies of Andrew Lloyd Webber's long-running hit that make a costume available to Pietz and cast members available for the show.

"But I can never sing any of the music," Pietz said. "There are legal stipulations. Andrew Lloyd Webber is afraid I'll make fun of the play," she said with a laugh.

The play within the series has given Pietz some nice comic moments. Like the time she studied artist Caroline's cat to help her develop some new cat moves.

But unlike the stage play, Annie Spadaro's copy-cat may have a limited run. "I think it will come to an end," said Pietz. She expects her character to be on the West Coast when the series resumes this fall.

"I'll be phoning from Los Angeles for a few episodes, I presume," she said.

But that can wait till fall. This spring Pietz returned home to Milwaukee, where she married actor Kenny Williams. They met while Pietz was in Chicago, where she earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts at De Paul University and went on to theater work. Would they ever have a sitcom together? "I suspect he leans more toward drama, me toward comedy," said Pietz.

Well, there will be time enough to sort out professional and family matters. At the moment, Pietz was looking forward to settling down with Williams and the dog they saved from parvovirus. Did she say "dog"?

"I love cats," said "Caroline's" cat lady. "But Kenny's allergic. So we have a dog."

Amy Pietz met her birth parents

"Caroline in the City" star Amy Pietz divulged on nationwide TV that she was adopted and recently met her birth parents -- but she didn't reveal an even bigger heart-tugging secret. Amy put her own baby boy up for adoption!

The 29-year-old actress -- who plays Lea Thompson's loveable next-door neighbor -- was struggling to make ends meet as a waitress when she became an unwed mom six years ago and made the crushing decision to part with her child.

But to this day, the warmhearted star still keeps track of her son's progress -- regularly receiving photos of him as part of the adoption agreement.

"Amy was earning minimum wage -- not enough to support a single mom and child," the actress' adoptive father, retired truck driver Arnold Pietz, told The ENQUIRER.

"Like her own birth mother, Amy was just out of college when she learned she was pregnant -- but she decided to have the baby anyway and give it up for adoption.

"She gets photos of her little boy from his adoptive mother. Amy insisted that it be a part of the adoption agreement."

The talented performer, who tied the knot with actor Kenny Williams last fall, grew up in a Milwaukee suburb -- the only adopted child of Pietz and his wife Nancy, a nurse. Amy's two brothers are the Pietz' biological children.

From the age of 4 she knew she was adopted -- and always felt an empty hole in her heart that couldn't be filled "until I found the people who were responsible for putting me on this planet."

She searched unsucessfully while in college. But recently her efforts paid off -- thanks to a wonderful stroke of luck, the actress told Tom Snyder.

"I was born in a hospital run by the Salvation Army," she disclosed. Amy contacted the Army and a helpful and brilliant member of that organization "did all the footwork and all the computer work. She found my file -- and there was a letter from my birth mom, written ten years ago, that had never been opened.

"It said, 'Please release all this information to Amy!' "

An excited Amy traveled to her birth mom's town. "I was terribly nervous," she recalled. But the reunion with her biological mom was filled with love and warmth. "We both giggled a lot," Amy told Snyder's TV audience.

"There are a lot of similarities in our gestures. It was incredible. We walk the same.

"The only time my husband mistook me for anyone else is when he heard my birth mother on the phone and thought she was me."

Amy made a big discovery about her biological parents.

"We have a lot in common. Everyone on my birth mother's side were all singers, all actresses. My grandmother went to the same acting conservatory I went to!

"It's just amazing what is flowing through our bodies, our genes."

Happily, everyone is getting along just great. "My birth parents are growing to be my friends," said Amy. "My adoptive parents are and always will be my parents."

As for her biological parents, they did have one shortcoming which was quickly corrected, Amy noted.

"Both my birth mother and birth father admitted that they don't watch 'Caroline in the City.'

"They do now!"

Hot Zone - Amy Pietz

How much does Amy Pietz resemble Annie Spadaro, the earthy, sharp-tongued showgirl she plays on NBC's Caroline in the City? Well, the 28-year-old Milwaukee native did serve beer and schnitzel at her wedding last May to actor Kenny Williams, and event she calls "a f---ing great big part." And during a phone interview, she interrupts to say, "Ooh, hang on a second. I just got out of the shower and I'm sitting in my office naked - I think I'd better move." A different kind of exposure came for Pietz when she co-founded the Eclipse Theater Company. She worked with the respected Steppenwolf troupe before moving to L.A. to land her first TV role, in the 1995 sitcom Muscle. That show fizzled after five months, but its casting director remembered Pietz when Caroline in the City producers were looking for someone to fill the role of Spadaro, whom Pietz describes as "spontaneous, fiery and loud." The actress, who portrays Lea Thompson's man-hungry neighbor on the show, would love to work with her husband one day. "I know everyone thinks when actors get together it's these whacked-out people getting married and they'll never stay together. But I, I, I," Pietz says, sounding familiarly fiery and emotional, "will challenge everyone and say that ours will last."

The Look Pietz, an avid skier, likes to hit the slopes as often as she can. When the snow melts, she takes a weekly two-and-a-half-hour class in Pilates.


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