Meeting Lee Tergesen: FIVE

By Anne (

January 28, 2003
More pictures from this event at

Rami and I met Mav and L. at the Museum of Television and Radio around 4:30pm, then we headed over to Au Bon Pain and sat down to talk and catch up. 

Mav showed us her "Oz" Clue game that she made for Lee and for Tom. It had computer printouts of "Oz" pics all over the cover and each room on the board was an "Oz" room, including the shower room, the copy room, the gym etc. 

An hour later, we went back to the museum and joined the line and hung out some more. I got to meet A., who I’ve been e-mailing with in recent weeks. We finally got into the theater and we were seated near the front, which we actually didn’t want because we knew we had to sneak out early to go see Lee in the play. Still, the ushers insisted they had to fill up the front first, so there we were. 

Tom was introduced and he announced that Lee was not going to be at the seminar. A collective “Awww” came from the crowd. “Oh, he’s really not that interesting,” Tom joked. Then he told everyone about the play Lee was doing -- The Exonerated -- at a small theater on Bleecker Street. 

Then Tom told everyone we’d be watching episode 5 before the discussion. I won’t do spoilers for that since I didn’t get to stay for the whole thing. We totally missed the Beecher-Keller scenes, which I am now glad for after hearing from others what happened. I got a HUGE kick out of watching the "Oz" guys’ reactions to the audience when we laughed and oohed and aahed etc. Brad Winters was having quite a fun time chuckling at us. 

We snuck out of the theater at about 7:20, figuring we had plenty of time to get down to Bleecker Street. Unfortunately, it was so cold (16 degrees F when the sun was still out) that all the cabs were taken and it took us literally 15 minutes to find one. We arrived at the theater at 8 p.m. and luckily the show started a little late. We had just enough time to say hello to Danielle, Nic, D. and her sister before the lights went down. 

Later, D. said she and Danielle had seen Lee briefly before the play. They both told him how upset I was about the preview for next week that showed Chris betraying Toby. D. said, “Anne better not run into Chris on the street because she’s going to kick his ass.” Or something to that effect. Lee laughed and got a big kick out of this. They also told him lots of fans were upset with Toby over the teacher comment. “Teacher comment?” he said, not realizing what they meant. I keep forgetting it’s been six months since he filmed these episodes so he’s not going to be as aware of everything as we are. 

The play was about a group of people who’d been wrongfully sent to death row. All of the stories were true and dialogue had been taken from transcriptions and statements. Lee, who was absolutely magnificent, played Kerry Cook, a man who had eerie parallels to Beecher. There was one part where he talked about being raped in prison and having other inmates carve a tattoo into his ass. And then the narrator made a reference to Job. It was wild. 

There was one scene where Lee talked about Cook’s brother and how he turned to drinking and eventually got killed in a bar fight. It was very moving and Lee had me near tears. There was another really sweet scene with Cook’s wife, whom he married after he was exonerated. Lee played the adoring husband quite convincingly. I was really impressed with his range. He had to go through so many emotions and he did them all so amazingly well. 

Also in the play, were Tim Daly from “Wings,” Judy Collins and Joe Morton. They were all really wonderful. Since he was new to the cast, Lee’s bio was on an insert. It said, “I’m in 'Oz' on HBO so I’m no stranger to prison. I’m honored to be included in 'The Exonerated.'” 

After the show, we went outside to wait for Lee. On his way out, he got waylaid by several fans but was finally able to come over and greet us all with a warm hug. He thanked me for the kumpe and said he it was good. I told him I had made it again and changed the recipe slightly. He asked me how, but got swept away by someone else before I could answer. Mav said “He kept asking, 'Why was it better? Did you fry them up the next day?'"

After greeting everyone, he suggested we head up the street to get a drink and talk so we walked about three blocks to the Time Café.

We went inside and found a group of tables that were up against a booth. Lee sat down in the booth seat, but toward one end. I suggested he might want to sit in the middle so we could all see him and talk to him. I sat on his left and Rami sat on his right. I still don’t know how I managed that. Guess I was standing in the right place at the right time. I felt pretty honored and lucky to be sitting next to him. (D. later told me she had orchestrated it for me. What a doll.) All my sibs were soon teasing me about it, too. I think Lee even came to my defense at one point but I don‘t remember exactly what he said. I felt like a 16-year-old girl who gets to sit next to the boy she has a crush on and everybody in the whole school knows it. Loved every minute of it, too. LOL. 

Everyone ordered drinks. I asked if they had spring water and the waiter said no, but they had mineral water, so I said that’s fine. Then Lee pipes up, “Yeah, we’ll share a bottle.” So, I got to share a bottle of water with Lee, which made me really happy. Hmm, come to think of it, I should have brought the empty bottle home. ;)

Then we were all sort of talking about stuff and I asked Lee for a special favor. I took out two pictures and asked him to sign them for two fans. He said, “Let me guess. Is one of them named Lindsey?” I was surprised and said, “Yes, how did you know?” He told me Lindsey had written him this long, rambling letter and told him that “Anne” was going to bring him a picture for him to sign. 

After he signed her picture, I asked him to sign one for Roxane from Peru, and he remembered her letters, too. Then I told him I had to give him a kiss from Roxane and after I kissed him on the cheek, he said, “You know, Roxane kisses with tongue,” and waggled his eyebrows at me. I almost fell off my seat. I was totally speechless, so I just laughed and turned about 12 shades of red. 

Then Mav showed him the Clue game and he had a great time looking over the board and reading the cards. “There I am in the shower. Oh season two facial hair. Oh look, there’s Chris in the copy room, shelving copy paper. They gave him a job to match his skills.” He kept going, "Pick up the copy paper, move it over here. Pick up the copy paper move it over here." He moved his head from side to side as he said it. We all howled at that. 
After that, Lee asked for a menu and he and Rami decided to share some hummus and a black bean tortilla. Later, when Lee ended up sitting on the other side of me, he kept reaching over me to get the hummus and tortilla, which was near Rami. I didn’t mind that at all. Nope. Can’t say that I did. 

After the drinks were ordered, but before the food arrived, Christy joined us. “Nice harem,” she remarked when she looked at all of us surrounding him. Lee spent a good deal of time teasing her about not coming the play. But Christy gave as good as she got. ;) 

We asked Lee to tell us what happened with Beecher and Keller in episode 5 since the only reason we missed it was to come see him in the play. First he asked us to remind him what happened in episode 4 and then he started to remember on his own. “Oh yeah, that’s right, I get him off death row. I looked good in that suit, didn’t I?” Then he talked about Keller’s scene with Sister Pete and made this really funny face and said “jealous” in a mocking tone, referring to Chris. He said he watched the scene three times before calling Leslie out to watch it. Then he said, “Happy,” imitating Chris, and then “jealous” again in that funny, mocking tone. He is such a ham. 

As for episode 5, he confirmed that what we saw in the previews about Chris was true. I told him I was pretty mad at Keller. He laughed. He also mentioned the scene with the brown sweater, which we all agreed looked great on him and we told him so. He was surprised that we were upset about the teacher comment. He told us that he thought Toby was just trying to be open and honest, not cruel. 

Danielle brought out pictures from Jack London that included one of Lee sticking out his tongue. Then much discussion surrounded the size of his tongue. Later, he said, “Well, when you have a penis as small as mine, you have to make up for it.” He knows darn well, we’ve all seen his penis and it ain’t even close to small. 

At some point, I told him how amazing he was in "Law & Order:Criminal Intent." He said, “It was the suit,” noting that it cost $5,000. He’s too much. I assured him it was not the suit. It was all him. I told him I was showing that last scene he did to everyone who came over to my house. D. remarked that I should be showing people the "Queens Supreme" episode. Lee said I should show people whatever episode I wanted to show them. LOL. He’s such a doll. 

While we all sat and talked, several sibs were taking pictures of Lee and I think he was getting a little embarrassed or wanted us to think so. “That’s enough,” he kept saying with an “aww shucks” look on his face. I took out my camera and he started to play with it, trying to figure out how it worked. It’s still new to me, so I wasn’t sure myself. It’s a digital camera than can take video and still photos. He was trying to figure out how to switch it from one to the other. He was aiming in the direction of D., her sister, and Christy and all of them were begging me to take it away from him. But how could I? They knew I couldn’t and someone teased me about that, too. I think he took one or two still pics but I haven’t checked yet. He seemed to be having trouble so I tried to reach over to show him something but he pulled it away from and made a “uh uh uh” noise because he wanted to figure it out for himself. 

Later, when the smokers all got up to go to the bar, I got the camera out and started videotaping Lee. It was the first time I’d used the camera all night. At first he mugged it up, but after a couple of minutes, he said, “OK, that’s enough.” He’s so adorable when he’s being humble and embarrassed. He was a really good sport about the pictures, though. 

Later, I found out that D. and Danielle had been talking to Lee about me. D. says she was trying once again to tell Lee about how much he means to his fans. They started talking about me and how I usually only follow an actor for about three months (actually, it’s six) but that I had stuck with Lee for about 18 months (actually 24 and this was the actual anniversary, too) so he had staying power times 6. They joked about that actually. Nic apparently heard or engaged in part of this conversation too. D. said he was quite pleased to hear this. 

They also told him that I have his voice on my voice mail and on my cell phone. Good God. He wanted to know what quotes I used. They both remembered that I used the “glean” quote on my home phone, but he couldn’t remember when he’d said that! Can you imagine?! So they reminded him. They also told him about the self-deprecating one on my cell phone. They said he said he acted the lines again for them. What a riot. Wish I’d heard that part. 

Danielle even said she told him I had a Lee shrine. I think she was mainly referring to the frame of the souvenirs from Jack London. I don’t know if she told him about the quarters or not. How embarrassing. But D. assured me that he was not at all upset; that he actually loved all of it. So, phew. Danielle also told him I framed the first sharpie he used to sign a picture for me. :-O 

Also, I think it was Danielle who told me that while I was videotaping Lee, he started to get embarrassed at the attention and said, “Note to self: Kill Anne.” And that’s when he said, “OK. That’s enough.” He also walked away from where he was standing and sort of turned his back to me and sat down on the railing near me. Danielle piped up, “Oh if you’re trying to get her to stop filming, you might not want to turn that way. That’s her favorite part,” meaning his ass. Thank you very much, Danielle. Not. Slightly embarrassing for me. Especially since it’s not true. His nose is my favorite part. Around that same time, he said, “That’s it. Anne’s banned.” Right. As if. There was more talk about his ass earlier, when we were talking about the play and we were commenting on the parallels between Cook and Beecher. He made some comment about people wanting to carve stuff into his ass, like it was Mt. Rushmore. 

After everyone had eaten, the waiter came to clear the dishes. Lee still had a lot of calamari left and the waiter asked if we were done with the plate. Lee was at the other end of the table, signing something, I think. I called down to him. He didn’t hear me, so I called his name again. He looked up and said, “Yeah?” Then I asked if he was done and he said yes. Such a simple exchange, but it made me really happy. I called out his name like I would any other friend I was having dinner with. It was just nice. 

When it came time to pay the bill, we all chipped a little in to cover Lee’s portion. When he tried to take money out of his wallet, we told him we were covering it. He said “I belong to any of you,” or something to that effect. I was at the far end of the table at this point and I can’t remember everything, dammit! ;) Danielle said, “You‘re a cheap date.” 

At this point, everyone asked him to sign their theater programs and he kindly obliged. He wrote a book on Mav’s. “Jen, OZ Clue. What am I supposed to glean from this? That I should get a clue? Or maybe a candlestick? Or Both? What kind of sick mind comes up with and then executes a faux game? Maybe I shouldn’t think about things so much. Is that my problem? Oh FUCK there I go again. Maybe, I should just say thank you and let you know I appreciate it and I will surely have a Blast playing it. Thanks, Lee Tergesen.” 

I noticed that while he was doing it, the veins on his forehead were popping out, so I called to Mav, secretly pointed at Lee and then at my forehead. She didn’t get it at first, thinking there was something on her forehead, so I did it again and she got it. 
I don’t remember when it came up, but Lee brought up his comment from Ask Lee about spending a night in jail. His answer was vague on purpose. He said, “I've never been in jail for more than a 12-hour period of time...” He told us that he had been arrested for DUI and put in jail but ended up not having to spend the night (or maybe the charges were dismissed the next day) because of some glitch. (It was during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.) I thought it was pretty cool of him to tell us, though.

Danielle said she told him how much she liked his performance in the "E.R." episode. He asked what her favorite part was. Before she answered, he said, “It was the kiss I gave Abby right?” Then he told her it wasn’t in the script and he came up with the idea. I love hearing stuff like that.

At another point in the evening, we were talking about Lee’s interview. L. brought copies of the Windy City Times and someone else brought the Crunch interview. Someone said the Windy City Times was the best interview with him. He said, “Oh come on, what about Heavy Metal...” I said, “Metal Rules.” He said, “Yeah, Metal Rules.” I told him that was my favorite one and he went on about how long it was. I also told him that Jeff and I had become e-mail buddies because of him and he thought that was pretty cool. Mav remembers that he said, “That fucker’s like 30 pages long, how can you *not* love that. Plus, I got to sing along to Slayer and shit. Can’t beat that.” 

It was a funny discussion. He tried to read the Windy City Times interview, but he couldn’t because everyone kept talking to him. He gave up, but D. told him to keep the copy. She could get another one. He imitated her, “I can get another one,” and asked why he couldn’t find these things but she could. I told him I loved one of the pictures in the article and he said he thought his smile was too big. I disagreed. It was just right. I think he said, thanks. 

Around midnight, we all got ready to head out and bundled up for the cold. Lee treated us by posing for several silly and fun pictures outside, including some really funny ones with a teddy bear wearing a prison uniform, which was left on his seat anonymously when he got up. (“Where’s the bear. I need the bear. The bear has to be in the pictures.”) He even had Nic and Rami hold him up -- each getting an arm and a leg -- for two shots. Susan took those lovely pics. :-) 

Then Lee set up one shot himself. He had everyone gather in a tight circle and look down at the ground. He slithered on his back under us and framed the picture. Then he got up and squeezed back into the circle and held the camera under us in position and clicked the shutter. He made us take another one sticking out our tongues. The man is just endlessly amusing. 

When I gave him the last hug and kiss for the night, I kissed him partly on the lips and partly on the beard. Soft and bristly at the same time. LOL. 

When I was trying to squeeze into the cab, Danielle had to slam the door shut. After I was inside, Lee was yelling at Danielle for slamming the door on me, they told me. “You could have hurt her.” Danielle said something like she’s in there now and Lee said, “Broken elbow and all.”

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