BEVERLY HILLS —If you could dust off a crystal ball and look back in time, you’d find an 8-year-old Tommy Garrett laying belly-down on his parents’ living room floor in central Virginia, elbows propping himself in front of the television as he sat rapt watching “As The World Turns.” Indeed, it was soap operas, not cartoons, that drew a young Garrett’s attention ”“ and he’s made a professional career out of his lifelong love affair with the soap’s frothy tales of love, betrayal and redemption. While he’s worked consistently as a soap opera journalist and as a client representative for many soap opera stars, he had a nearly out-of-body experience when he was cast for a role on “ATWT” ”“ the very same show that captured a young boy’s imagination in the first place!
“It was a dream come true,” Garrett says. “Being on the set and in front of the camera, rather than observing from the sidelines was just surreal ”“ I felt like that little boy again and I had climbed inside the TV set!”
Garrett, who hosted the syndicated television show “Somewhere in Time” for two years on the East Coast and “Hollywood Classics” in various western markets, has slowly been building an acting resume as well. He made a well-received appearance on the TV reality show “Living With Ed” which now airs on the Planet Green Channel and gained his first major film credit with a role in an upcoming film by legendary director Henry Jaglom’s 2010 film “Queen of the Lot,” which also stars Tana Frederick and Noah Wyle.
Though Garrett could have been cast in “The Godfather” and not been as excited as joining the “ATWT” team, even if just for a day. On March 18, Garrett traveled to the “ATWT” set in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he met up with director Christopher Goutman and show actress Lesli Kay. A limousine then whisked them away to a location shooting at an historic Staten Island courthouse. “We had a great time ”“ we chatted in the limo and ran our lines,” Garrett says. “Lesli is so courtly and so gorgeous. I had to remind myself I had a job to do and we only had a short time to shoot the scene. I could have talked to her for days. “And Chris, he’s a pro’s pro. We arrived at the remote location and he excused himself. He surveyed the site for a few minutes and came back prepared to shoot. Soap opera directors in general are known for being able to work quickly and competently, and Chris is certainly among the best.”
In his scene, Garrett plays an Oakdale TV reporter alongside Kay’s character Molly Conland McKinnon, a reporter who also works for the Oakdale, Ill. TV station owned by Kim Sullivan Hughes (played by renowned actress Kathryn Hayes). Garrett is coy in not giving away the plot punch line, but says, “Molly and I interact with someone the fans will love to see again. It will be a pleasant shock for the viewers when they finally see who it is.”
Oscar-nominee Julianne Moore returns to her Emmy winning role as Frannie Hughes on the series on Monday, April 5. Garrett’s star turn airs on the Friday, April 9, installment of “ATWT.” Sadly, the venerated soap ”“ which debuted in 1956 as the first half-hour soap on television ”“ is closing up shop on September 17. The show has fallen victim like many other soap operas, where relatively cheap talk shows and reality series are replacing some of the TV’s longest lasting daytime dramas.
“I feel for everyone who works on the set, from the stars to the caterers,” Garrett says. “I’m glad I had the golden opportunity to realize my dream of being on the show before it’s consigned to history.
“But to be honest, it was bittersweet for me. I’ve been a fan of ‘As The World Turns’ forever.”
Roger Hitts, two-time United Press International columnist of the year, is a veteran celebrity journalist whose by-lines appear in numerous magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and around the world.