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Archive for the ‘ER’ Category

by Beal

5.  ER – Chloe gives birth to Baby Susie in “Motherhood” (May 11, 1995)

A lesser TV authority would never have included this on their list. A main character’s sister gives birth and it makes a Top Five list? Who does that? Well, I do, and here’s why. First of all, we’re talking ER season 1, when this show was the greatest program I had ever watched, and not just Law & Order‘s fiercest competition for longest running show and most frequent cast changer. I was OBSESSED with the Chloe/Susan plot line. Check it, Susan is an ER doctor, her sister Chloe, is a junkie. When she turns up pregnant, Susan takes her in but despite her best efforts, Chloe just can’t stay clean. Obviously she gives birth in Susan’s emergency room, in a memorable scene in which she yells for The Beatles “Blackbird” to play as her daughter is being born. Following the birth of Baby Susie, Chloe and Susan’s mother, COOKIE, arrives at the hospital since the plan all along was for Cookie to raise the baby. At the last minute though, bitchy/flaky Cookie (seriously, you can’t trust anyone called Cookie) decides she’s taken care of Chloe long enough and by default, Susan is now the mother of the possible crack baby that was named after her. Important to note: Quentin Tarantino directed this episode.

4. Roseanne – Jackie has Andy out of wedlock in “Labor Day” (March 8, 1994)

Coming in at number four, Roseanne manages to eliminate the sappy emotional swill of the Very Special Birth Episode in exchange for madcap hilarity, sitcom style. I believe Jackie’s surprise pregnancy was written into the show, on account of actress Laurie Metcalf’s real life pregnancy, which explains how her terrifying pregnant belly in the hilarious bathroom scene with Roseanne looks so damn real (and terrifying). Expecting for Jackie to remain in labor for several hours, Roseanne and Jackie hesitate to call Fred, who barely makes it to the hospital in time to see the birth of his child. Remember though, it is a sitcom, and he is required to be in the room, in order to faint at the first sign of anything grotesque. In the final moments, they forgo the usual eight month old baby covered in goo scheme and use the camera instead, giving the audience the newborn’s P.O.V. Just watch:

3. Weeds – Nancy forces doctor to remove baby ASAP in “Where the Sidewalk Ends” (July 20, 2009)

Things start to get a little creepy when Nancy discovers a “birthing room” in her Mexican drug kingpin boyfriend’s house. She’s pregnant, and because she narked out Esteban’s trafficking operation, it’s the only reason she’s still alive. When she realizes that this powerful man is going to force her to have this baby at home OFF THE GRID, and then probably murder her, it’s time to take action. She needs a birth certificate, and witnesses. It’s a matter of life and death. Fortunately, ol’ Andy Botwin is there to save the day (in the General Lee) and rushes Nancy to none other than Dr. Alanis Morissette, who induces labor immediately, after hearing the story of the whackjob drug kingpin baby daddy. When Esteban arrives at the hospital he insists that Nancy leave immediately, it’s too late though, and the nurse presents his son, Stevie Ray Botwin.

2. Murphy Brown – Single working mom, Murphy has a baby boy in “Birth 101” (May 18, 1992)

Much to Vice President Dan Quayle’s chagrin, a fictional unmarried career woman gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on May 18, 1992. In an episode that was both heartwarming and hilarious, the entire news team works together to get this baby born. From Jim’s awkward attempts to take Murphy’s mind off the pain and his total discomfort with the mere thought of her lady parts, to Frank’s idiotic antics and attempts to empathize, Miles inability to focus on anyone but himself (granted, he was shot at while trying to locate Eldin) to Corky’s rush to the pharmacy to refill her prescription to birth control pills, this episode is comedy gold, and a major watercooler moment in television history. Eldin shows up at the last minute (after a jaunt to Maryland for some crabcakes) and the baby is born. The news team comes in for a final congratulations, with Phil in tow (let’s just say this, if I ever have a baby, I hope my favorite bartender is among the first visitors, too) before Murphy holds her son for the first time. “Hi. I see you got a little hat,” she says, before Frank re-enters to tape their first moment together and Murphy begins to sing Carole King’s “Natural Woman” and I start crying.

1.  Dallas – Drunk Sue Ellen gives birth to John Ross Ewing III in “John Ewing III Pt.” (April 6, 1979)

It’s a wonder little John Ross isn’t retarded. For the entirety of Sue Ellen’s pregnancy she not only drank, but drank to total blackout most, if not all evenings. She was reeling from the breakup of her most recent affair with Cliff Barnes (the Ewing’s arch-nemisis) and wasn’t even sure if the baby was Cliff’s or her husband J.R.’s (we find out later it is, in fact, J.R.’s). Weeks before the baby was born, J.R. checks Sue Ellen into a sanitarium (rehab would be used today, but hey, it was the 70’s) where she bribes an orderly for booze. Once she’s good and liquored up, she escapes lockdown, steals a car and smashes it right into a telephone pole. She is rushed to the hospital and gives birth to a baby whose life is clearly in danger. Sue Ellen isn’t doing so hot herself, either. Eventually the baby is deemed in good health, but then is kidnapped, before he makes it home to Southfork. Sue Ellen continues drinking and neglects her child until midway through the following season.

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by Beal

On the rare occasion that I do get up off my couch and venture out into the real world, it’s hard for me not only to cope without the constant entertainment that the rectangle of moving colors and sounds provides, but also to see people and places outside the context of the small screen. Case and point, my most recent trip to Chicago.

I flew the 1.5 hour junket from D.C. on a sunny Thursday morning. About 10 minutes prior to our final decent I could notice the thickening of the suburbs outside my tiny window. Hmm, I bet if Lanford, IL were real, we’d probably be flying over it right about now. Guessing in my head that what I saw below me was far enough from the city, but close enough to Elgin to logistically be the official locale of the Conner family of Delaware Ave, Lanford, IL.

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As the plane began its decline, my thoughts switched from the Conners, to the Winslows, because whatever neighborhood I was staring out at, had a lot of yellowish/brownish brick houses that looked pretty much exactly like Carl and Harriet’s. Not to mention my overwhelming urge to belt out “CHOOM CHU CHU CHU. . .

After de-planing (that is a real word, I think) I gathered my bags and followed signs to board the El Train, at which point I remembered the episode of ER in which Dr. Gant (Omar Epps) attempts suicide by jumping in front of the train. He is rushed to County General and when the unidentified victim’s beeper goes off, the doctors discover that they’re treating one of their own.

WaynesWld2_Still_PK_7864My primary reason for visiting Chicago was to attend Lollapalooza a three-day outdoor music festival, not unlike Waynestock, which technically took place in Aurora, and was technically a movie (based on a TV skit) but hey, close enough. Coincidentally, the last musical performance I witnessed involved Joe Perry from Aerosmith (in my case joining Jane’s Addiction) and after the credits rolled, I, like the Indian shed a tear for the amount of disgusting garbage that three days of partying on created.

IMG_3301After my three days at the festival, I spent a lovely Monday touring the city, and that’s when things got television-wise, way out of hand. I quick jaunt around downtown and I was inundated with more television references than I could handle. It was one thing when I walked past Wrigley Field on Saturday night, and thought, not fondly of an American pastime but, obviously, of Larry and Balki. But, when I saw this other Chicago landmark, I couldn’t figure out why I felt like I had been there before (and maybe I had) but mostly it’s because for eight years on TGIF, we saw those two Chicagoan cousins rushing off the train to patronize the arts.

After walking around downtown and enjoying the many other buildings and the skyline that both Perfect Strangers and Family Matters made feel important to me, I made my way down to the Art Institute of Chicago. I know what you’re thinking, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which although it’s a movie, I can talk about because it is, as I type, it is recording on my DVR. A perfect plan. I type ABOUT the movie, while it records enough of the program to allow me to fast-forward through all the commercials. Plus, I’ll get to revisit the museum, from the comfort of my davenport, allowing me to see the following gems once again.

212937_f520hb_67.231.1So, I was at first ashamed to admit that the when I first saw the Frank Lloyd Wright window, a stunning piece of design and architecture in its own right, all I could think of was D.J.’s side of the room on Full House, if only a George Michael poster were inlaid in front of it. I felt like much less of an idiot though, when after a little online research, I discovered that IN FACT D.J.’s wallpaper is based on a F.L.W. Picture 1window design and that I, although ignorant in origin of design, feel quite proud that I could recognize the similarities between two of Frank’s finer works.

iowa-american-gothic-grant-wood1And finally, no visit to the Art Institute of Chicago would be complete without a viewing of American Gothic, an American institution of its own. This is one of those images, that I’ve seen so many hundreds of time in my life, that seeing the REAL version was sort of a let down. Like, wow, my neighbor had that poster in college, it’s equally as powerful to view it now. Somehow though, through my disappointment I was able to see it in a whole new light. It’s at time’s like these that I really wish I had any kind of photoshop skills because when I saw American Gothic, all I really thought was, hey, that looks just like Joanna Kerns from Growing Pains and Sir Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame. NEAT!

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by Judi

Oh, the CROSSOVER. Jack Doneghy, I’m sure, loves the concept of the TV crossover being such a fan of things like “synergy” and “product integration”, “pro-menz” (that’s “positive mention” to you, little buddy) and “making lots of money.” After all, what better way to get your TV loving public to excitedly clap their hands and buy even more bags of Baked Lays than an episode of their favorite TV show starring people from their OTHER favorite TV shows. FUN FOR ALL, I dare say.

5. Dana from Step By Step helps Corey on Boy Meets World via dolphin in “The Happiest Show on Earth” (1996)

TGIF loved and I mean loved the crossover episodes. There was Urkel on Full House, Salem the cat from Sabrina running through all of the TGIF programs wreaking havoc on the sitcom space-time-continuum, and my favorite- Dana from Step by Step on Boy Meets World. True, she’s on for one scene and doesn’t say much but what she does say is enough to convince Corey that he’s still in love with Topanga. And she does this all through dolphins. Next to a dolphin tank. By telling him a story about dolphins. While they pet and feed dolphins. Dana sure is convincing. I hope she went into sales and is now so rich, she can by and sell JT. (And yes, I also hope she’s married to Cody. Shut up.)

4. Frasier Crane ruins Helen’s life again on Wings in “Planes, Trains and Visiting Cranes” (1992)

There were actually two Cheers and Wings overlaps, the other one being Cliff and Norm visiting Nantucket to go on a fishing trip but then they just go to the Sidecar and drink for two days. On “Planes, Trains and Visiting Cranes”, Cheers regulars Dr. Frasier Crane and his wife Lilith appear to do a seminar that Frasier’s devised about enriching your life (called amusingly The Crane Train to Mental Well-Being). The only problem is that Helen Chapel, recently back from a disastrous stint in New York City where she tried to become a cellist and ended up as a waitress as a strip club, took that same seminar in New York and blames it and Crane for all of her problems since then. The episode ends in a typical sitcommy way with all the Wings characters screaming at each other at the seminar and one of Frasier’s signature raspy “You people!” rants that we all so love. I enjoyed this episode so much when I caught the repeat last year, mostly because it reminded me of my sincere love for Lilith and her deadpan delivery.

3. George and Noah and Monica and Rachel on Friends in “The One With Two Parts” (1995)

It’s funny. I just realized a pattern here- the shows that used the crossover once more often than not used it several times. Friends is a solid example. We all remember (naturally- why would you be here if this were all new information?) that Mad About You‘s ditsy waitress Ursula is Phoebe Buffay’s twin sister, forcing a confused M.A.Y. Jamie and her friend Fran to mistakenly come to Central Perk and hassle Phoebe about getting them coffee.

Ok, so technically I’m cheating here. George and Noah weren’t playing their ER counterparts but really, come on. It’s a great episode, they’re CLEARLY playing off their ER characters and it includes one of my most favorite, rarely used sitcom gimmicks ever- Monica and Rachel have swapped identities because Rachel has sprained her ankle and lacks insurance so the cute doctors think each is the other. And then they get into a fight. (How did they pick who got George, btw? I mean, I love me some Librarian and all but being the one who gets George is cause enough for a fight to the death itself)

2. Lara Flynn Boyle tells Ally McBeal to eat a cookie in “Making Spirits Bright” (1998)

Usually, crossover happen because of a shared network but they tend to happen more frequently when they also share a creator. And no, I don’t mean the sweet baby Jesus. I mean David E. Kelley. Ok, to some of you, that IS the sweet baby Jesus, but around here he’s the guy who just really likes quirky urban lawyers and piano bars.

This nifty little cameo featuring Lara Flynn Boyle as her Practice attorney Helen Gamble sizing up bobble-headed Ally McBeal was inevitable, considering the media broohaha at the time regarding the fact that both actresses were in desperate need of a few trips to Arby’s and the aforementioned bags of Baked Lays. Oh yeah, and that whole thing about Ally’s skirts being too short. All wrapped up neatly in a thirty-second shot that really makes me want to get a cookie of my own.

1. Buffy drops in on Angel in “I Will Remember You” (1999)

It was a natural enough occurrence that the regulars on Joss Whedon’s Buffy would make an appearance on spin-off Angel. Angel would, after all, be nothing more than a glimmer in his big daddy’s eye if it weren’t for our favorite pint-sized slayer. In this episode, Buffy shows up for a reason I can’t remember off the top of my head and almost immediately helps Angel slay a big baddie, whose green slime accidentally turns Angel human.

The former couple agree that they won’t let this affect them, this sudden turn of events that they’ve both been wishing for since they met when Buffy was sixteen and Angel a spry 300 years old.  That naturally lasts about ten minutes and they end up going at it on Angel’s kitchen table. The ensuing scenes are pretty much everything we, the loyal Buffy audience (at least, those of us with girlie parts) have ever wanted- Angel discovering the joys of peanut butter and chocolate TOGETHER, ice cream, sunlight and being able to be with Buffy without turning into, you know, a total, murderous monster who likes killing her friends. Sadly, it doesn’t last. He’s a weak human now and can’t protect himself or her (not that she needs it but I guess after 300+ years, a sudden identity crisis would be pretty hard to overcome) so he goes to the Powers That Be and asks to be made vampire again. They agree to turn back the clocks, with the worst after-effect being that Buffy won’t remember their time together at all. And sure enough, even though she tearfully promises to remember everything, she doesn’t and soon stalks off the show back to Sunnydale.

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by Judi

Oh, CALAMITY. I will admit to being one of those faithful viewers who gets all the giddy at the prospect of a Very Special Episode, especially when that Very Special Episode involves words like “murder, shooting, stabbing, rape and betrayal.” You know, the kinds of cheery topics that just scream sitcom. If we’re lucky, the best life-threatening predicaments bring on an emotional outburst or two, maybe a touching montage or a series of emotional flashbacks. In other words, they bring about things that I eat up with a spoon. Oh yeah, and they are also unusually superior episodes, rife with actual tension and set the plot in a new, very exciting direction.

I had a hard time narrowing down my choices for this list. Other top contenders included Lost (Michael shoots Libby and Ana Lucia), Arrested Development (Buster’s “coma”), House (pretty much every season finale- they really like putting their cast in mortal peril), and Roseanne (Dan’s heart attack). And now, the juicy little episodes that made the final cut.

5. Golden Girls– Rose’s heart attack in “Home Again, Rose (1 & 2)” (1992)

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Center a hit sitcom around a group of feisty old broads and you just know that one of them will, eventually, have a heart attack or some kind of major health crisis. Had it been acerbic Sophia (who suffered a heart attack in the first season, before our love truly had time to develop), eye-rolling Dorothy or lusty Branche, it would’ve been devastating for sure- but soft-hearted, mush-brained Rose? Oh, man. Nothing gets you more ferklempt than when that group of feisty old broads tear up and admit their fears of losing their sweet, much-mocked friend. Add a little tension with Rose’s bitchy daughter who disapproves of how her mother has chosen to live out her golden years and the fact that they can’t even get in to to see Rose because they aren’t “family” and, and- I’m sorry, there’s something in my eye. Talk amongst yourselves.

Watch clip

4. Beverly Hills 90210– Donna almost gets raped in”Love Hurts” (1995)

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As soon as I hit 90210 on the show list, I had to pause. Because, really, there are just SO MANY life-threatening predicaments to choose from. And sure, I could’ve gone with Victim Supreme (that would be Kelly “Never Saw a Soap Tragedy She Didn’t Like” Taylor) or maybe Andrea cooing over her premie baby in the hospital or Brenda talking down a lighter-holding Emily Valentine but I have to admit that Donna’s near-rape is possibly my favorite. It could have something to do with Tori Spelling’s bleached bob phase, the ultra-’90s outfit of baby-T with suspenders combo, but the kicker is that David saves her with a baseball bat, all because Donna tells “Dave” that everything’s all right and there’s not really a knife-wielding rapist in her bedroom. David kicks in the door, Donna’s sacred treasure is spared to turn down abusive Ray Pruitt a few more times, and all across America, girls call their friends to let them know what their “A rapist is in my room” code-word will be. (In case you’re wondering, Beal and I have already talked about it and she knows that if I call her “Melissa”, it’s time to break down the door).

In other news, I am SHOCKED that this clip isn’t on Youtube. Shocked and dismayed that while all the 90210 fans are busy setting fan videos of Donna and David clips to old Sarah Mclachlan songs, no one has put the “Dave” clip up for my viewing pleasure. Inexcusable.

3. West Wing– Josh is shot in “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen: Part 1” (2000)

West Wing could’ve gone the usual route with their assassination-attempt episodes at the start of the show’s second season- God knows the situation is emotional enough already. The president has been shot but Josh has been shot too, just a pure knife to the heart right there. I could watch that scene of First Lady Rizzo comforting his assistant Donna and still be satisfied but then they throw in all these flashbacks about how Bartlett’s team was assembled during the campaign. We get to see Toby recruit CJ, Donna basically worm her way into working for Josh just by pretending he’d already hired her, and, the best, Josh going to recruit Sam at his fancy schmancy law firm after Bartett wins him over with an off-the-cuff town hall speech that proves he’s “the real deal.”

2. ER– Carter and Lucy get stabbed in “All in the Family” (2000)

My relationship with ER was pretty rocky when hot Luca replaced hot Clooney on the world’s longest running medical drama but even I had to tune in for this one- the scenario is simple enough- Carter and Lucy (Becca!) are stabbed and lay bleeding to death in a dark exam room while, outside, everyone parties down, completely oblivious. When Carrie Weaver finds them and ushers them into the ER, you can practically feel the usual adrenaline rush get kicked up a few notches as the nurses and doctors work frantically to save their friends. They save Carter but lose Lucy, whose death scene is heartbreaking as she tells Elizabeth Corday not to be sad or guilty that they couldn’t save her. But I think my favorite shot would have to be the one of Benton, Carter’s long-suffering mentor, barreling down the stairs and pushing past people after he’s heard the news.  Awe-some.

1. Friday Night Lights– Jason is paralyzed in “Pilot” (2006)

Friday Night Lights starts off with a bang, no-holds barred, when quarterback superstar Jason Street goes for a tackle with his head down and ends up on a stretcher. In Texas, as the show and the Billy Bob Thorton-movie it was based on tell us, high school football is king. So, yeah, losing your star player, an All-American, to a life in a wheelchair is pretty much the biggest tragedy you can think of. And of course, this is just where Friday Night Lights is getting started. Suddenly, Dillon, Texas has a fallen hero, an underdog coach, a devastated town and a second-string quarterback who’s never been on the field. And I find myself in love with a show about football even though I could care less about football.

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Why NBC, you’ve done it again! I had lost all hope in you when your Thursday night lineup slummed to Joey, Will & Grace, The Apprentice and ER. It was like, just because Friends and Seinfeld had played out, you didn’t have to give up completely, but you did. I believe it was your shit Thursday that singlehandedly took your network to #4 in the ratings. Up to that point, I had always flipped to NBC when I had nothing in particular to watch during prime time, because your programming was generally better than any other network.

But then, you put Law & Order “spin-offs” [read: exactly the same show with a new tagline] (and what the hell was that one with Bebe Neuwirth?) on every single night, in every single time slot, and I had to let you go. It was a sad era for television, and I, along with the masses, said to hell with network and began obsessions with HBO and cable programming. 

Which brings me to last night. NBC, you’ve won me back!!

You have created a “Must See TV” lineup like no other, and I thank you for it. I submit that it’s better than its last heyday(s)The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, Hill Street Blues—Wings, Seinfeld, Frasier, L.A. Law—and later—Friends, Seinfeld, ER.  [Yes, I intentionally didn’t mention the shitty shows that appeared amongst these gems: Boston Common, Mad About You, etc.

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Last night, I laughed OUT LOUD, alone, during each of the situation comedies you featured. Parks & Recreation was as funny as I could have hoped for, which obviously means it’s going to be cancelled, but I say please, please give this one a fair chance. Amy Poehler was the only reason I continued to watch SNL once it turned terrible, so I thank you for putting her in prime time. Her character is hilarious. When she rolled in in the duck taped travel pillow, pretending it was a neck brace from a fall she had endured into a pit, I peed a little. So so funny. And The Office can be totally hit or miss, but it’s funny more often than it’s not, and Michael Scott only forces me to change the channel sometimes. 30 Rock, hilarious, hilarious, hilarious. I won’t say any more. 

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As for Southland, I plan on giving it a fair chance and reporting back. My Name is Earl is a throw away show that’s essentially a bad skit gone on far too long. But that I can accept. Your new lineup with it’s new name COMEDY NIGHT DONE RIGHT, is no longer a lie. You win.

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I’m partly ashamed of exactly how I decided that I desperately needed to know what ever happened to Kelly Brown, but I believe the thought process to be nearly as valuable as the information regarding the whereabouts of Ms. Brown. Here goes:

While watching the Merecedes episode of The Golden Girls on the Hallmark channel last night, a commercial (not surprisingly) for denture adhesive came onto the screen. . .

OBVIOUSLY, this little ditty reminded me of a very special episode of Hey Dude! when Ted is leaving the Bar None Ranch and serenades his fellow employees to the same tune featured in the above commercial for Sea Bond– Bye bye Brad! Bye bye Melody! See ya Mr. Ernst! See ya Mr. Ernst! How I could possibly remember a 30 second scene for 19 years is a mystery, but not nearly a big of a mystery as I was about to discover when I began researching the cast of Hey Dude!

Melody (Christine Taylor) is the easy one. Apparently the only break-out star from the early 90’s Nickelodeon gem, Taylor married actor Ben Stiller and has appeared in dozens of semi-decent movies since Hey Dude went off the air.

Mr. Ernst (David Brisbin) has appeared on like, every show the 90’s had to offer from NYPD Blue to The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ellen, Seinfeld, thirtysomething and more. He even did 19 episodes of ER.

Ted (David Lascher) ended up on Blossom, Clueless and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. And will likely play the role of the romantic lead’s best friend in my first Lifetime MFTVM.

Now here’s the mystery: What in the hell every happened to BRAD? DANNY? LUCY? BUDDY?

Not one of these “actors” ever worked again! How is this possible? Fine, these people weren’t the greatest thespians in the world, but come on! They couldn’t even appear as a suspect on Law & Order? I’ll give you Danny and Buddy. They clearly won some kind of Nickelodeon casting sweepstakes, neither of them were playing a role, so much as they were playing themselves but in a dude ranch setting. Lucy I could give or take, I never really identified with her because she seemed old. Brad (Kelly Brown) on the other hand, I feel like was a real talent.  

However, Hey Dude! remains the ONLY acting credit to her name. I feel like she was the beautiful, feminine 90’s version of Jo Polniaczek (Nancy McKeon who still appears somewhat regularly on television).

I am thoroughly saddened by the disappearance of Kelly Brown, and her absence from my television screen. Furthermore, it is upsetting to find ONLY the following information about her current whereabouts, courtesey of Wikipedia. . . 

After Hey Dude, Brown left acting, got married, and started a family. She is last known to be living in upstate New York.

–BEAL

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