Rumor Has It That Tampa Actress Could Become Regular On 'Gossip Girl'
Look for Tampa native Dreama Walker on tonight's "Gossip Girl" on The CW. The Plant High School graduate is introduced as a new character, Hazel, one of the in crowd at a posh Manhattan high school. She makes trouble for spoiled rich girl Blair Waldorf, who is played by series co-star Leighton Meester. The role could be recurring, but Walker won't find out until the writers strike is over."I'm almost 100 percent certain that I will be back," she said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I don't think they would introduce a character that would never be seen again." But until the strike is over, nothing is certain. "It's frustrating because I have been having a good year, and this is a great opportunity," she says. "Gossip Girl," a drama set in an Upper East Side high school, isn't a ratings blockbuster, but it has a young, loyal, upscale audience, so it attracts top-dollar advertisers. It was picked up for a full season before the writers went on strike. The last new episode airs at 9 tonight. The Blair character is worried that she might be pregnant. When Hazel and her pals find out, they start snubbing Blair. "We are being added to shake things up," says Walker, who has been in New York since she graduated from high school four years ago. She says life at Plant High was not as dramatic as life at the fictional private Constance Billard School on "Gossip Girl," but all young adults can relate to issues of class, privilege, teen love, friendships and betrayals. Walker started performing when she was a teen. She was in an all-girl pop group, S*coolgirlz. She says she had planned to pursue a singing career and was going to enroll in the theater program at the University of Central Florida after a year in New York. But that year stretched into four as she kept finding work. "I was going to give it a shot, and so far, I've made a steady living," she says. She was on an episode of "Law & Order" and "The Guiding Light." She was in a TV pilot, "Zip," for NBC that didn't get picked up. She has worked in several films that were made in New York, including the upcoming "Sex and the City: The Movie." She also has a major role in an independent film, "Wherever You Are," making the rounds of film festivals. This week she began rehearsals for an off-Broadway play, "When You Cure Me," about a woman who suffers from psychosomatic paralysis after being attacked and raped. "I play the comic relief," she says. "I am a distant friend who says inappropriate things at the wrong times." The play should open in the spring. Walker says she had hoped to try out for television comedies and dramas during the annual winter pilot season, but all of that has been put on hold because of the writers strike. Meanwhile, back home in Tampa, her mother, Elyse Walker, is proud of her daughter's accomplishments. She says "Gossip Girl" is not the kind of show that she would usually watch, but after sampling a few episodes, she has been impressed by the writing. GOLDEN NIGHT: Instead of the red carpet and a gala awards presentation, the Golden Globe Awards will be a series of clip shows on Sunday night. Faced with a lot of celebrity no-shows, NBC canceled coverage of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's annual event. Instead, look for a special "Dateline NBC" at 8 p.m. that will profile the nominees. At press time, NBC planned to reveal the winners during a 9 p.m. "news" report, followed by an "Access Hollywood"-style program covering whatever Golden Globe parties haven't been canceled. If the strike isn't settled, the 80th Academy Awards, scheduled for Feb. 24, will be in jeopardy, too. The Golden Globes generate $50 million to $70 million in local spending, says Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles Economic Develop Corp. The Academy Awards ceremony adds about $130 million to the economy, he estimates. So far, the strike has cost the Southern California economy $1.4 billion, Kyser says. That includes $179.6 million in lost pay to writers and $309.6 million in lost wages to other unionized workers in the industry.