Meeting Lee Tergesen: SEVENTEEN

By Anne (

June 8, 2019

This is the account of the 17th time I met Lee Tergesen and, coincidentally, it’s been 17 years since the first time!

I am still giddy and deep in the throes of Post-Lee Tergesen Syndrom (PLTS) after the fun trip to see him in a play called "Long Lost" at the New York City Center on June 8, 2019.

Before the show, I met up with @SueSpur, @VanillaLime88 (and her hubby, Ron), @DSMilti and @JessicaR_NY at Rosie O’Grady’s. This restaurant just happened to be where Lee took me in 2005 after I saw "The Foreigner" for the second time. (When I asked Lee if he remembered, he said he didn’t even recall ever being in that restaurant. Hmph.)

Dinner was a chance to catch up with Milti, Wendy & Ron, and to finally meet Sue after years of online interaction. It was also a chance for everyone to meet Jessica, who has been to past Oz/Lee events but hadn’t quite gotten the courage up to talk to him. I totally get that feeling.

Jessica had drawn a lovely portrait of Lee and his daughter based on a photo that Tom Fontana had posted on his Instagram a few years back. She said she waiting way too long to get started and had to spend a few almost sleepless nights to finish it in time for the meet-up. ALL the peeps agreed that the portrait was gorgeous, and I was excited for her to share it with Lee. I KNEW he would love it.

After dinner, we walked to the theater and sat down with just a few minutes to spare. In the play, Lee plays the eldest of two brothers, Billy, who is an addict and a bit of a con man. He arrives at the office of his younger brother, David (played by Kelly AuCoin, who plays Dollar Bill on "Billions"). David is a successful consultant with a beautiful wife (Annie Parisse) and college-age son (Alex Wolff).

Lots of bad history between the brothers makes David cautious about letting Billy back into life. Billy wants to stay with David, but David says no. Billy works his manipulative charm and voila, he’s back in much to the chagrin of David’s wife, Molly. Billy immediately wreaks havoc on the household. The play features lots of good drama and ABSOLUTELY AMAZING PERFORMANCES from the entire cast.

I also must give a huge amount of credit to set designer John Lee Beatty. The set was a series of rotating rooms that included an office, a living room, a bedroom and a hospital. They each blended in so well and the changes were incredibly smooth.

The play itself certainly has potential to be great, but the playwright seemed to lose his way. Some of the dialogue was awkward and I got the impression he couldn’t quite decide what he ultimately wanted to say. Still, the actors took the material and ran with it, which was quite impressive.

After the show, we waited outside for Lee. When he came upstairs, he walked in our direction, but was cut off by a couple who wanted to give him a little praise. (Well deserved, I say.) When he got over to us, we got hugs and I introduced him to Sue and Jessica. Jessica then showed him her gift. As he started to open it, another couple of fans interrupted. He asked them to give him a minute. He opened the gift and was pretty stunned and awed by what he saw. He got a little verklempt and profusely thanked Jessica. He got a little nostalgic because his daughter is only about 2 in the drawing but is now 6 years old. Awww.

Since he rode his bike and didn’t want to damage the drawing, he put it in his dressing room and took pictures to show Lily and Yuko.

We headed off to the bar at the Sheraton, just a few blocks away. He walked his bike and locked it up but took the seat inside with him (this is an important detail for later). As we walked, I told him he was amazing in the TV series "Gone." He said, “You think that about everything I do.” I said, “You're always amazing, but you blew me away in 'Gone.'" I told him I was truly impressed with the last episode, in which his character (a kidnapper and child abuser) is confronted by one of his victims, who is one of the lead characters. He started to tell us a story about filming it but we arrived and settled in, placing orders etc.

Then he told us that the day he filmed that confrontation scene, the producer (or maybe the director) told him that until filming, he wanted Lee to have no contact with Leven Rambin, the actress who played Kick Lannigan, his former victim. He said he thought it was stupid since he’d already met her but said fine. He later found it that it was Rambin who asked for the arrangement.

When Leven walked into the room to film the scene, she fell apart and broke down in tears and couldn’t film the scene. Lee said he was annoyed because “Kick would never have fallen apart like that. She is tough as nails.” I would have to agree with that assessment. Well, whenever it was filmed, it was magnificent. Other than maybe the guy he played in "Monster," I don’t think I’ve felt more trepidation toward a character that Lee has played. He absolutely nailed it.

He showed us some pictures and videos of the kids, including one where Lily was walking very slowly on purpose. And there was another of Kai (age 2) bouncing into Lily to try and interrupt her slow walk. I think they both inherited the performance gene.

At some point, he asked me when he and I met. “We’ve known each other for what, 19 years?” I said, “17. We met on March 19, 2002 at the Oz DVD signing.” Then I remarked that he probably didn’t remember that meeting considering he met about 1,000 other folks that day. The first meeting he remembers was May 19, 2002, when he hosted the GLAAD bruncheon in Washington, DC. He said, “Oh. ONLY 17.”

I think he then asked Jessica about how she created the portrait and she told him about finding the picture on Tom’s Instagram and all of the hours she spent on it in a very short time. Suddenly, quiet Jessica was lit up and couldn’t stop talking. It was adorable. She talked about her art and her work as a social worker.

Wendy told him that she had taken over the Lee Tergesen Twitter account from Diane and was posting all the updates. He nodded and said that sounded good. She encouraged him to let her know about any updates he might want to be posted (hint, hint).

Then she decided she had to ask Lee about this crazy internet rumor about a mysterious Season 7 of Oz that was partially filmed but never shown. She had quite a lot of detail and the whole time she was telling, Lee was looking at her with the most incredulous look on his face. It was rather amusing to watch him as she gave more and more details. It’s like he couldn’t fathom how anyone had created such an elaborate lie. He confirmed that it was completely untrue.

Then he said, “Except there was a season 7 and it was filmed,” and paused. We all looked at him in surprise and anticipation. Then he said that technically Season 4 was two seasons so Season 6 was really Season 7. Cheeky Lee.

Sue told Lee that he started following her on Twitter but she had no idea why. Then he asked what she posted the day he followed her. She said she posted her dream about Meloni. He said, “That's why. You knew that’s why I followed you, you Minx.” He actually used the word minx. LOL

Jessica also told Lee the stories of the three times she came to see him but never actually spoke to him. Then she showed him a picture from "Godfather IV" (aka MobFest) where she’s in the background of a picture of Lee and it looks like she is leaning against his forehead. He teased her about that, then asked how long ago it was taken. 2010, we all said. He looked surprised that it was actually nine years ago. He made a self-deprecating comment about looking old. Um, I don’t think so.

I asked him if he enjoyed working with Kelly AuCoin. He said he loved working with Kelly. I think it shows because they have great chemistry.

We also got to talking about the new Showtime series "City on a Hill" and I asked how many episodes he was on. He said three and they had already been filmed.

At some point, I brought up birding because, well, that’s what I do. I think it might have been when Jessica talked about stress relief. I suggested birding. Then Wendy asked if I still liked butterflies. I do but I don’t chase them anymore. But that reminded me of a story that I’m rather surprised I told.

Five years ago, I was in Vermont for my high school reunion. My best friend from high school, Laurie, is a medium. She has been her whole life but hid it when she was a kid. She even wrote a couple of books about her experiences and those books are published and you can get them through Amazon.

I only see Laurie once in awhile and we rarely talk on the phone, but it’s like no time has passed when we are in the same room. I had just read her first book and was asking her about what it was like being a medium. She offered to give me a reading. I had no idea what to expect. When we started, she said, “I’m seeing a black and yellow butterfly. Does that mean anything to you?” I told her I loved butterflies and going to see them was my main way to de-stress (I didn’t discover birding until 2015). I told her that the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was black and yellow, and it was one of my favorites. Then she said, “Your father is sending them to you. He knows you like them.” My Dad passed in 2011, so hearing that made me break down into tears. When I told the story on Saturday, I didn’t expect to start crying but I did. Lee is one of the few people (specifically men) with whom I can allow myself to be vulnerable.

When there was a quiet moment, Lee turned to me and said, “I did this play for you." I was confused for a moment and said, “What?” He told me he decided to do this play because it had been awhile, and he knew that I needed to come and see him again. Wow. I think that might the sweetest thing he’s ever said to me. I was incredibly touched to hear this. I told him I really appreciated it because I really did need to see him again.

Before we knew it, midnight arrived and he said he needed to leave because he had to get up with the kids at 8 am. I asked if he walked Lily to school. He said he walked them both to school. I would love a picture of that!

He got up to pay the bill and left his phone on the table. We joked about how he could trust us with his phone. I remarked it's probably locked. I flipped it over, but it wasn't locked, so put it back face down. When he came back, Jessica teased that she put all of our phone numbers in there 10 times and that he might be surprised who he was following on Twitter now.

We all took turns taking pictures and got lots of hugs. Then Lee need to use bathroom so Jessica offered to hold his bike seat. He said he didn't want to hold us up and seemed reluctant to leave the seat with us. As if we'd mind waiting for him! Come on! I’d wait as long as he wanted, right?

While he was gone, we posed for a silly picture with the seat. We walked outside and said more good-byes and got more hugs from Lee. He headed off to get his bike and I said good-bye to all the ladies (and Ron, who is a very cool guy, BTW).

I walked toward my hotel and Lee was still putting his bike together. He asked about my sons and we chatted for a couple minutes. He told me he's been thinking about his Mom a lot lately because she died at age 54 and he's turning 54 next month. Wow. I also told him about my new job and got one final hug. I thanked him again for coming out with us and making us laugh. He is the best!

When I got back to the hotel, I kept checking Twitter to see if anyone had posted any pics or comments about the evening. I was deep into my PLTS and I needed more! More! Finally turned everything off at 1:30am and set my alarm for 6:30am so I could get up to go birding in Central Park!


Some final notes: Thanks to Jessica, who refreshed my memory on a few things:
Lee told us that when Yuko was pregnant with Lily, she told him he really needed to clean up his language and not swear. Lee says he was very diligent and stopped swearing at home. He said one day when they were all in the car, Yuko realized she forgot something and said, “Shit!” Lily repeated her. Lee had us all laughing as he told it.

Lee also told the story of when JK Simmons won the Oscar, Lee sent him a text: "I’ve licked the boots of an Oscar winner." JK replied something to the effect that Lee also defecated in his face.


Main Page
Meeting Lee

Meeting One
March 19, 2002

Meeting Two
May 19, 2002

Meeting Three
October 7, 2002

Meeting Four
December 7, 2002

Meeting Five
January 28, 2003

Meeting Six
August 31, 2003

Meeting Seven
November 13, 2004

Meeting Eight
January 7, 2005

Meeting Nine
May 31, 2008

Meeting Ten
May 2, 2010

Meeting 11
Dec. 4, 2010

Meeting 12
Nov. 23, 2011

Meeting 13
June 9, 2012

Meeting 14
Aug. 17, 2013

Meeting 15
June 14, 2015

Meeting 16
October 15, 2017

Meeting 17
June 8, 2019