Chow Bella: A Benefit for Hunger Tailor-Made for Foodies

Supporting Artists with Disabilities

How to Land a Role on Law & Order

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These articles by Jamie Saxon were prepared for the April 7, 2004

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

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Chow Bella: A Benefit for Hunger Tailor-Made for Foodies

Spanish tapas bar. French bistro. Italian trattoria. Organic meats,

breads, and cheeses sliced with the "Ferrari of slicers." Liqueur by

Frangelico. A Caribbean rum shack. Gelato by Ciao Bella. Coffee bar by

Lavazza. Sound like a wedding for an upper East Side "It" girl? Wrong.

We’re talking about a foodies’ mother lode – the annual Taste of the

Nation benefit at the Doral Forrestal, Monday, April 19, from 6:30 to

9:00 p.m. "You could spend $125 at Rat’s and have a great dinner,"

says event promoter Anne Sweeney, "or for $75, you can sample the

cuisine of Rat’s, the Ferry House, Tre Piani, the Frog and the Peach,

Gratella, and other top of the line restaurants in the area."

Last year, Virginia Lippincott, chairwoman of the Washington, DC-

based National Business Aviation Association, organized a group of

flight attendants – who also oversee catering on corporate jets – to

Taste of the Nation for culinary training purposes. "In corporate

aviation, you’re flying a group of extremely sophisticated executives,

people who have been exposed to the best restaurants in the world,"

says Lippincott, who lives in Bordentown. "Going to Taste of the

Nation is part of doing our homework – it gives us exposure to food

trends, presentation ideas, food and wine affinities – what food and

wines pair well together."

Emil Efthimides, a financial research manager at Bloomberg and

co-chair of the event with his wife, Diane, who works in marketing for

Merrill Lynch, notes the auction this year is "bigger and better" than

last year. Packages include dinner for eight at the chef’s table in

the state-of-the-art kitchen at Rat’s, a fully-stocked wine cooler

from national sponsor Jenn-Air, a golf foursome at Forsgate, a spa

trip courtesy of Southwest Airlines, and a wine tasting in your home

courtesy of Varsity Liquors.

Now in its 13th year, Taste of the Nation was started in 1988 by Share

Our Strength, one of the nation’s leading anti-hunger organizations.

One hundred percent of all ticket sales support organizations like

Mercer Street Friends and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. Local

sponsors include American Express Financial, Bristol Myers Squibb,

Commerce Bank, Conair, Drinker Biddle, ETS, Janssen, RWJ Foundation,

Stark & Stark, and Tyco.

Efthimides described last year’s foodfest, which over 600 people

attended, as offering everything from "frogs legs to crab cakes. And

of course everybody’s favorite is coming back this year – the

chocolate-covered strawberries from Lahiere’s."

Taste of the Nation, Monday, April 19, 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. $75 in

advance; $85 at the door. 609-924-FOOD (3663) or

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Supporting Artists with Disabilities

When Stephen Zorochin was a landscaper for Princeton University –

where he worked for 20 years before starting his own business,

Z-scapes – he had the opportunity to apprentice from 1973 to 1975 with

the late Joe Brown, sculptor and professor emeritus. "He had vision in

only one eye, and I was always amazed that he could sculpt," says


Ironically, Zorochin, who was born and raised in Princeton,

encountered the same challenge when he developed macular degeneration

in his right eye two years ago. "I wasn’t too taken aback (with the

diagnosis)." Fortunately, his depth perception was not adversely

affected, and his attitude is admirably upbeat. "Artists by nature are

optimistic. My art has always been someplace I can go that is mine

and gives me peace of mind. I think art can do this for any

individual, not just artists – it’s a place people can go to be by

themselves, reflect, and get away from the chaos of daily life. I

think my creative instincts override my disability."

The work of Zorochin and 80 other professional artists with physical

and mental disbaliities comprise the second annual juried ArtFirst!

exhibit at the University Medical Center at Princeton, which benefits

the breast cancer unit and opens with a patrons’ preview party,

Sunday, April 18, from 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets for $50, $100, or $150 are

available at 609-497-4211. The show runs through May 15.

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How to Land a Role on Law & Order

Last year, the New York Times ran a piece in the Style section about

the most common feather in New York actors’ caps – a stint on "Law &

Order" or one of its two spinoffs, the only prime time dramas filmed

in New York. Well, add Joseph Halsey, right, of Robbinsville to the


Halsey split his high school years between St. Anthony’s Catholic

school in Trenton (where his mother worked, and still works, in the

complaints department at Sears), and Palm Bay High in Melbourne,

Florida, (where his father owned a deli). It was at Palm Bay High that

Halsey got bit by the drama bug: his first role was Guy Masterson in

"Guys and Dolls." Halsey will appear in the Wednesday, April 21

episode of "Law and Order," which airs on NBC at 10 p.m.

"I first auditioned for an Italian mafia guy, but they wanted someone

beefier," says Halsey, who admits that the typical reason an actor

doesn’t get a role is that, "after the talent portion, it all comes

down to looks." Two weeks later, he was called in for the role of

Bill, "a blue collar guy who’s hanging out in a scruffy bar with his

buddies when another guy gets whacked on the head."

Halsey, who holds an associates degree in drama from the Florida

School of the Arts and graduated from a two-year program at the Acting

Studio in New York in the early 1990s, has certainly paid his acting

dues, with stints on the Cosby Show, America’s Most Wanted, and One

Life to Live.

His path to Law & Order was paved by Breakthrough Studios in New

York, which hosts weekly sessions – part class/part audition with

different casting directors. At one session, Halsey auditioned for

Claire Trager, casting associate for Law & Order, who then brought him

in to see her boss, Suzanne Ryan, casting director for the show. After

more auditions with the producers; Lynn Cressel, who oversees casting

for every Law & Order show; and David Platt, the episode’s director,

he was in.

It took a 10-hour day to film Halsey’s five-minute scene on location

at the Village Idiot, a "very scary" bar on 14th Street. Two PAs

(that’s film talk for production assistant) were assigned to "babysit"

Halsey and the four other "day players."

First, the tech people lit and set up the scene. Then the director

blocked the scene with the actors, who then went into makeup and

costume. Since Law and Order is filmed with a hand-held camera, the

actors must do the scene dozens of times, so the cameraman can capture

it from various angles.

As for the opportunity to rub elbows with Jesse L. Martin, who plays

Detective Green, the character who interviews Halsey in the bar, or

Jerry Orbach (Detective Brisco), that was a no go. "They go right into

their trailers between takes," says Halsey. "The script is constantly

being rewritten and they have lots of lines to learn."

In the world of acting, a bit part on Law & Order is no mean feat.

Edie Falco, who plays Carmela on the Sopranos, got her first bit part

on Law & Order, and S. Epatha Merkerson, who plays Lieutenant Anita

van Buren, first appeared on the show in a bit part – a mother whose

son was murdered. "A lot of people get brought back in," says Halsey,

who says some other shows bar actors from repeat appearances.

A carpenter by day for the Belle Mead-based construction company

Tomlinson & Girt, Halsey is also the bassist and vocalist for Bigger

Than Plastic (, a popular local band that

has enjoyed its own share of fame – from the Howard Stern show to

airtime on New York’s K-Rock and Philly’s WMMR and WYSP. They appear

at Finnegan’s in East Windsor on Saturday, April 10.

Halsey, whose dream role is "to star in Sam Shepard’s next play,"

takes frequent acting classes in New York and has this advice to other

actors. "Believe in yourself and don’t stop studying to become better

at what you do. There’s a fine line between persistence and pain in

the ass. Find that line and walk it."

Inside scoop Halsey picked up on the set: There may be a fourth

iteration of Law & Order coming soon – this time from the jury’s


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