The fabulous foursome from TV's Felicity
Keri Russell, stars as Felicity
Scott Speedman plays Ben
Scott Foley portrays Noel
Amy Jo Johnson plays Julie
How do these gifted actors feel about the characters they play? Are they similar to them in any way? What are their lives like on and off the set of TV's hottest show? Find out the real story of Felicity's hot young stars.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
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About the Author
Leah Furman is the author of numerous biographies. She lives and writes in New York City.
Leah Furman is the author of Sisqo.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1Getting to Know Keri RussellBy now, almost everyone is familiar with the cascade of golden brown ringlets, the genuine laugh, and those imploring gray-green eyes that define Keri Russell's signature good looks. She's been featured in newspapers and magazines, she's done the talk show rounds, and she comes into our homes once a week as the central character of Felicity. Onscreen and off, Keri exudes personality. She may not be as spontaneous as her television persona, who chases after the boy of her dreams on a whim and doesn't think twice of sending him her college application essay, but she's just as easy to like.THE GOOD OLD DAYSKeri and Felicity have something else in common, as well; both are native California girls. While Felicity Porter hails from Palo Alto, Keri Lynn Russell was born on March 23, 1976 in the beautiful, residential city of Fountain Valley in the heart of California's Orange County. Keri's parents, David and Stephanie Russell, had planned to name their baby after grandfather, Kermit. Fortunately, Keri was spared the frog humor by coming into this world with two X chromosomes.Unlike Felicity, Keri didn't remain in California for long. David Russell, a corporate executive with Nissan, was soon transferred to Arizona. The family, which included Keri and her older brother Todd, then made their home in Mesa.A precocious youngster, Keri loved the attention that came with being the baby of the family. And while her older brotherwas often charged with taking care of little Keri, the two would often scuffle. With the birth of her younger sister, Julie, Keri gained a sense of responsibility. But while taking care of the new baby gave Keri a feeling of importance, she was also longing for the attention she had received as the youngest child.Conflicted about her role in the family, Keri suffered from the classic middle-child syndrome and began seeking attention elsewhere. She would often act out at school and even proved to be too much for the Brownies. Keri was ousted from that organization for gross misbehavior."Me and my best friend were doing too many cartwheels, or something ridiculous like that," Keri recalled on The Tonight Show.DANCING QUEENBut the Brownies were not the only game in town. Mesa boasted enough dance studios and extracurricular sports to keep Keri in a constant state of activity. "I did everything--T-ball, track ... ," she said in a newspaper interview.While she took to a variety of sports, dance class was Keri's favorite pastime. She loved to dance and was very talented. She studied ballet, jazz, lyrical, and street dancing, in short everything she could fit into her busy schedule. Stephanie Russell was a very supportive mother, tirelessly chauffeuring her daughter from one dance class to another. School and the myriad of dance classes left Keri with little free time. But it was all worth it when Keri was selected for the Mesa Stars Dance and Drill Team.The team presented Keri with yet another opportunity to meet people and make friends. Her fellow dancers especially admired Keri's naturally curly locks, which they attempted to replicate by booking appointments with Keri's hairdresser. "Everyone always wanted to be like her," recalls one of Keri's former dance teachers in an Arizona Republic article. "I even went to Jo [Keri's stylist], but I look back at those pictures and want to die!""My sister and I paid extra money so we could go to Keri's stylist and have her hair, but it never looked the same," addedone of Keri's former classmates. "We were all going through our ugly stage then, and she was still so pretty."Her years at the Mesa Stars Dance Studio were happy ones. Aside from the many friends she found there, Keri had the chance to travel the country and perform at half-time shows during major sporting events. When she was twelve years old, Keri even performed in Sydney, Australia, at the World's Fair Expo '88. The young dancer had won numerous scholarships to exclusive after-school dance programs where she worked on her dance skills several hours each day.And believe it or not, Keri kept up with her school work through it all. Always trying to set herself apart and make her parents proud, Keri studied hard and maintained a high grade-point average. Life couldn't have been any better, when, suddenly, it all came to a screeching halt.ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGHS AND LOWSNo, Keri didn't topple from the peak of her drill team's pyramid and ruin her chances for a career in dance. It was just that her father once again announced that the family would be moving--this time to Colorado. The timing could hardly have been worse for Keri, who was going on thirteen. She was heartbroken; this would mean leaving the Mesa Stars forever.Denver would mean a change for Keri. Not only would she have to adjust to the new people, but she'd have to encounter the harsh elements of winter for the first time. Remember, she had never lived anyplace with seasons before. First it was Southern California, then Arizona--both states ranking high on the list of winter vacation getaways. In this case, the silver lining was that Keri would experience her very first white Christmas.Unlike many girls and boys her age, lucky Keri was spared the dreaded "awkward stage." Her rigorous dance schedule kept her fit, her skin was always Noxzema fresh and her hair naturally curly. And sure enough, everything soon fell into place in Denver as well. On one bright, sunshiny day, Keri was spotted by a local photographer. While she may have beenonly thirteen years old at the time, the photographer was convinced that Keri had modeling potential. At his urging, Keri decided to give the world of high fashion, or at least Sears catalogs, a try. After all, what adolescent raised on Cosmopolitan and Cindy Crawford's House of Style could resist such an offer?Keri was all ready to hit the fall fashion runways, going so far as to compile a portfolio, when she realized that the glamorous world of modeling was anything but. In comparison to her time at dance school, which required all of her concentration and completely brought her into the zone, modeling was just plain boring. Being told what to do and having to sit still for extended periods of time was ho-hum at best.While Keri kept on pursuing dance in Colorado, she formed a strong bond with her dance teacher. She has kept up with her teacher all of these years, likening their relationship to Felicity's relationship with her audiotape correspondent, Sally in a recent Ultimate TV interview.Keri's parents stayed in the Denver metro area long enough for her to begin what would prove to be an abbreviated tenure at Highlands Ranch High School. Since she hadn't had much time to gain a foothold in the precarious land of junior high school, she was forced to brave the unknown world of high school all alone.Her father's transfer during Keri's crucial formative years took a toll on the young girl's psyche. "I moved to Colorado at kind of a crucial time, just when I was finishing junior high school," Keri told Entertainment Tonight. "And that's a bad time to move. Because everyone kind of has their friends." Everyone, that is, except one girl who also happened to be new in town. The two would become fast friends after meeting at a new-student orientation and winding up in many of the same classes. "So I had one best girlfriend," she told Detour magazine. "I didn't fit in any group, I kind of voyeuristically watched high school pass by, which is completely Felicity."Nevertheless, the sudden relocation did manage to teach Keri a thing or two about adapting to her surroundings. "Nobody knows you and you have to find your own personalityamong the group ... . So you have a chance to re-establish yourself ... but it always ends up the same," Keri would later reflect in an interview with Lisa Canning.At Highlands Ranch High School, Keri was a standout student much like she had been at Mesa's Poston Junior High. And while she may have lacked a sense of belonging, the feeling that she was on the outside looking in wouldn't last long. In just one year, Keri would leave the business of grades, textbooks and popularity contests behind forever in pursuit of her dream. "You miss out on the social side, but that's not my forte anyway," she admitted to Parade magazine.STEPPING INTO THE LIMELIGHTKeri Russell's collection of dance trophies would have led many to believe that the young woman would one day grace the stage of a Broadway musical. But Keri had other plans. The chorus line is nice, but it's not exactly the type of job that comes complete with a private dressing room bearing a star on the door.When modeling didn't pan out, Keri began studying acting. She was also determined to continue dancing. The dance studio was Keri's home away from home. Ironically enough, the dance studio was also where Fate played her hand, assuring once and for all that the world would be less one dancer. One evening, when Keri was practicing her grand jetés at the studio, two Disney scouts happened to be watching.This was back in 1990, when Disney was looking for fresh faces to star in a show running on its cable channel entitled The All New Mickey Mouse Club. The first ever Mickey Mouse Club was started in the 1950s. It spawned the most famous mouseketeer ever (until now), Annette Funicello, who went on to star in a series of beach-blanket-and-bongos flicks in the 1960s. The next installment of the Mickey Mouse Club came in the 1970s, giving rise to Lisa Welchel of Blair Warner on Facts of Life fame. Now, it was Keri's turn.The young dancer's star quality was not wasted on the savvy talent scouts who were immediately taken with the vibrant fourteen-year-old. This girl could very well turn out tobe the next Annette Funicello! Without a moment's hesitation, the scouts contacted the young performer about setting up an audition.Soon, Disney began casting for Honey, I Blew Up the Kid. Realizing that Keri would be perfect for the role of the babysitter, Disney quickly scheduled a second audition. Of course, they had no way of knowing that Keri was hardly a pro when it came to staying home alone. "I was actually a really poor babysitter," Keri told Jay Leno. "I would get so scared at night that I would have to call my mom and say 'Would you come babysit with me, I'm scared!'"Never having been in a commercial, much less a feature film, Keri began to feel overwhelmed. This was all virgin territory, and Keri wasn't sure that she could handle it. "I never dreamed of being an actress," she recalled in Seventeen. "My parents are just normal, and my brother and sister have nothing to do with television."Luckily, her parents understood the importance of these opportunities for their daughter, as well as the trepidation that she was feeling. The two did everything they could to bolster Keri's confidence during this highly stressful time.After the exhilaration of going on her first two professional auditions had subsided, Keri was thrilled to learn that she had nailed both roles. She couldn't believe her luck. But her family knew that Keri's success was well deserved. She had always been a hard worker, and now everything was paying off big-time.As Keri's career began to take off, it became very important to keep the teenager grounded. Keri's parents had heard the horror stories. They knew all too well what could happen to young actors who don't have a solid support network.LIFE WITH MICKEYWhen work on the Mickey Mouse Club got underway, Keri had to relocate to Florida. To watch over their working teenager, the Russell family joined Keri in Orlando. This was the beginning of a whole new life for her, and she would needher family around until she got acclimated to the lifestyle. At home, Keri was treated the same as ever. Her brother kept her ego in check by referring to her as "the dorky little sister."As part of her employment at Disney, Keri had to engage in numerous promotional campaigns. She was required to do interviews and put together a biography. The facts on the fifteen-year-old mouseketeer included insights into her favorite drink, the Virgin Pina Colada, her favorite actor, Ethan Hawke, and her favorite color, green. Of course, much of this trivia would change as Keri grew older.The Mickey Mouse Club ran for three seasons. The taping sessions were conducted at Disney World, which became Keri's home. "I grew up at Disney World," Keri told Harper's Bazaar. "I learned to drive in the Magic Kingdom."While in Florida, Keri also attended special classes for working children. But she received a completely different sort of education on the set. The Mickey Mouse Club enabled the fledgling actress to grow comfortable in front of a camera and taught her a thing or two about being a working actress. The long hours, the endless takes, the camaraderie between the cast and crew, the Mickey Mouse Club had it all. And Keri loved every second of it, saying "I'm having the time of my life and it is the best learning experience." And while she remained passionate about dance, it was now forever relegated to the role of hobby.Even with her television experience, Keri was still a little nervous when time came to shoot Honey, I Blew Up the Kid. She was no longer playing Keri, the mouseketeer, but an entirely different person named Mandy Park. Instead of a bunch of kids chosen for their zip and sprightliness, like on the Mickey Mouse Club, Keri now had seasoned actors to collaborate with. While her role as a teenage babysitter was hardly what one would call a stretch for the actress, it gave her the opportunity to get her feet wet in the world of film.After the filming wrapped, Keri went back to her mouse ears and the Mickey Mouse Club. The show was gaining a large teenage following. Years later the former mouseketeer would still be getting Mickey Mouse Club fan mail. "They'revery loyal fans," she explained to Ultimate TV. While working on the show, Keri didn't always get along with everyone, but the friendships she did form were that much more lasting. What's more, she actually met her current boyfriend, Tony Lucca, on the set of the Mickey Mouse Club.Tony was an actor, musician, and fellow member of the mouseketeers. As the years went by, he and Keri grew very close. By the time the last season rolled around in 1993, the Mickey Mouse Club had spun off a series called Emerald Cove. Many of the original club members had roles, including Keri, who played Andrea McKinsie and Tony, who played Jeff Chambers. Not surprisingly, Andrea and Jeff were listed as one of the hottest "neighborhood couples."But Keri and Tony were more than just a couple, they were best friends to boot. Leaving Florida to pursue her career in Los Angeles meant leaving her secure and comfortable existence, but Keri was used to life's little upheavals. She had already gone through enough transitions to know that things have a way of working themselves out.GOING BACK TO CALIAt this point Keri was seventeen. The age when many a young man and woman goes off in search of a college degree. But Keri was driven to make it as an actress. Going to college when she could get hands-on experience in Hollywood just didn't make sense. As Keri has often said, "College is still an option." There is, after all, no age limit on college freshmen. So instead of advancing her education, Keri focused on her career. Soon after arriving in Los Angeles, she found an agent, went to hundreds of auditions and received a long list of assignments.Her first jobs were mostly commercials. While Keri may have preferred Carl Jr.'s fast-food during her mouseketeer period, she quickly changed her tune when Jack-in-the-Box came through with her first commercial. She also appeared in ads for Sears, J.C. Penney, and Lee Jeans.While this type of work did nothing to expand the young thespian's acting range, it did serve to bring in a nice income.With her parents now living a thousand miles away in Dallas, Texas, Keri had only herself to rely on. She was happy just to be earning a living without having to resort to waiting tables like so many of her contemporaries.Besides commercials, Keri was also becoming a regular guest star on a variety of prime-time TV series. In 1994, Keri appeared on the shows Boy Meets World and Clerks. In Detour, Keri described her work on Boy Meets World by saying, "I was there to be the cute girl and kiss the guy. Literally, that was my job. I can't tell you how many times I've been paid just to kiss the main guy."Yet it was jobs like these that paved the way for Keri's present wave of success. Small guest roles led to bigger parts, like her role as one of the series regulars on Dudley Moore's fleeting sitcom Daddy's Girls. The parts may not have been exactly what Keri had bargained for, but she understood that any actor wanting to make it in Hollywood had better have patience to spare. One day, her big break would come along--she just knew it.Luckily, Keri's second year in Los Angeles was a vast improvement. First, she landed a guest spot on Married ... with Children. Then, she auditioned for The Babysitter's Seduction, an NBC movie-of-the-week, and was thrilled to hear that she had finally won a starring role. Working with the likes of Felicia Rashad and Stephen Collins, she felt like she was finally breaking through. And although no one was stopping her for autographs just yet, her costars knew that they were in the presence of a Hollywood up-and-comer."It was so clear to me that she was someone who was going to be a star," says Stephen Collins in the Seventeen article. "At nineteen, she was already one of the most seasoned pros in the business."Keri's third year in the city of angels was what clinched her claim to rising stardom. Not only did she garner another role in a made-for-TV movie, The Lottery, but she also scored the first big coup of her career. She would have a starring role in an Aaron Spelling series, an opportunity most aspiring young actors could only dream about.When her agent first informed her of the audition for NBC's Malibu Shores, Keri had no difficulty keeping her cool. By this time, she'd been to hundreds of auditions, if not more. Desensitized to the constant stream of rejection, Keri was all set to come in, read her lines, and never hear from Team Spelling again.HIGH SCHOOL REUNION?When Keri heard that she won the role of Chloe, she was ecstatic. She recalls calling her mom and screaming: "Hi! I totally got the part!" And when she heard that the actor playing her onscreen love interest would be none other than her boyfriend, Tony, Keri felt overjoyed at the prospect of starting a great new job with her best friend. How fortunate can one girl be?While Keri's romantic relationship with Tony had by now fallen into the on-again-off-again category, the two were still as close as ever. Working with Tony and the rest of the Malibu Shores cast was a tremendous experience in every sense of the word. The makeup alone must have weighed several pounds; as Keri told US magazine it "took an hour and a half" to apply. She also met a whole new group of people, many of whom she quickly befriended. She spoke about her Malibu Shores costars in an online chat with Ultimate TV during the summer of 1998, saying, "I actually went to Europe two summers ago with Christian Campbell [Neve's brother] as friends for two and a half weeks, I see Tia Tejada all the time ... I saw Charisma before I left for Ireland."But playing Chloe Walker, a sex pot à la Spelling, came with its own set of difficulties. It marked Keri's entrance into the realm of glam TV. Produced by the man who brought us Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, and Dynasty, just to name a few, Malibu Shores forced Keri to read lines that were often meaningless and to wear a wardrobe that was always outrageous. Dissappointed as Keri was with this unrealistic portrayal of young women, this was her most conspicuous role to date, offering the incentives of steady work and a consistent income. It was just too tempting to pass up.As it turned out, Malibu Shores was dropped from NBC's roster while still in its first season for failing to win the all-important ratings. Many fans were up in arms, but Nielsen had the last word. While the show's demise may have upset Keri at the time, it was actually a blessing in disguise. After all, can you think of any Spelling television grads who actually moved on to thriving careers in film?Truth is, once most people begin to identify an actor with his or her television persona, it becomes difficult to shed that image. While many television stars do break through the small-screen barrier (think Bruce Willis, Jennifer Aniston, and Neve Campbell), such a transition is nearly impossible to accomplish unless the actor's original television show is of a high caliber. And while Aaron Spelling's night-time soaps may be more fun than a barrel of sea lions, few would dare call them quality programming for fear of being laughed out of the room.After Keri made her narrow escape from a fate worse than infomercials--that of forever being referred to as "the girl from Malibu Shores"--she quickly landed three new roles in succession. The first of these was another TV movie entitled When Innocence is Lost, in which she played the starring role of Erica French. The second was an appearance in the premier episode of a new Fox series called Roar. She played Claire, a young heroine who gets killed off in the first episode. By now, this was pretty much standard fare for the busy young actress. But it would be Keri's third role that year that would finally bring her to a whole new level of filmmaking.THE LAND OF FILM FESTIVALSThe independent feature film Eight Days a Week was Keri's first foray into the scrappy world of film festivals. Instead of working for a paycheck, acting in independent films is done for the love of one's craft and because of a belief in the project. Such independent productions usually don't have the funds to bankroll their actors' high salaries and expensive trailers. Sometimes actors even work on a deferred payment schedule,in hopes that they'll get their due once a studio picks up the movie.Eight Days a Week centered around the tale of a lovesick teen who woos the girl of his dreams, played by Keri, by standing outside her window "eight days a week." To Keri's delight, the film won the Slam Dance Film Festival's prestigious Audience Award. This project led Keri to another part in an independent film called The Curve, with Matthew Lillard of Scream. This time she would be portraying an ambitious college coed whose boyfriend plots to kill his roommate for an automatic 4.0 grade point average (if you're thinking this sounds a lot like MTV's Dead Man on Campus, you're on the right track). While Keri called the film a "really wacky, crazy college movie," in an In Baltimore interview, this is clearly one story line you won't find on Felicity.She was also thrilled to get the chance to work with some of Hollywood's most talented actors such as Lillard, Dana Delaney, and the "very cute" Michael Vartan, her onscreen boyfriend. The movie was shot in August 1997 on the campus of Towson University. "I feel like I'm at summer camp," is how Keri describes her experience to In Baltimore.Her coworkers on the set also had great things to say about her. At first, she was described as "smiling at everyone" and "a very sweet kid and unbelievably petite." But these "aw shucks" adjectives turned into high praise once everyone had seen Keri act. "Look at someone like Robert Duvall, who's so naturalistic in every role. Keri is the same way," Dan Rosen, The Curve's writer/director, told Detour magazine. Her talented performance would also be hailed when the movie was chosen to be featured at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. Keri put in an appearance during which she enjoyed previewing other independent films as well as meeting some of Hollywood's biggest stars. Little did she know that she was soon join their lofty ranks.BREAKING OUT A STARThey say it is always darkest before the dawn, and in Keri's case the saying proved true. After shooting on The Curvewrapped in the summer of 1997, Keri was at a loss. While there were many available parts on the market, Keri was finding less and less that she could actually sink her teeth into. After her great experience on the film, Keri resolved not to play any more flat characters.But as the days without employment sped by, Keri began to get restless. After all, isn't it better to be doing some form of acting than no acting at all? And there was the little matter of paying the rent on her Pacific Palisades home. Her agent had never stopped sending her scripts. Unfortunately, most of the parts she would be required to perform were skewed toward the bland side. After a few more months of frustration, Keri was ready to throw in the towel. Having received an offer for a decidedly lackluster part, Keri was all set to accept when she received a large envelope in the mail.The package was from her agent, and as Keri tore it open, she silently prayed for some good news. Her prayers were answered--the envelope contained a script for Felicity. As she began to read, Keri could hardly believe her eyes. This was one of the finest scripts she had ever read. She was struck by the depth and charm of Felicity's character. Here was a role to make an actress proud.If she had entertained any notions of selling out an hour earlier, she put them all to rest after reading Felicity. She telephoned her agent, and told him that she couldn't wait to audition for the role of the impetuous college freshman who turns her back on convention to follow her love. Keri could sympathize. She had fallen in love with the role of Felicity, and was ready to turn her back on any substandard roles.She recalled to US magazine calling her agent and saying: "Turn down that offer. Even if I'm not right for this, I understand that there is hope."Soon after that conversation, Keri's agent arranged an audition. She had to wait while a long list of names was called out ahead of her. Watching girl after girl go in to read for the role she believed was hers, had Keri on edge. She even remembers phoning her agent and saying, "I'm not going to be great after waiting for two hours." Finally, Keri was called into read. She remembers walking into the room and seeing about two dozen pairs of eyes staring straight at her. Keri badly wanted the role, and felt nervous and intimidated.The casting team had already seen hundreds of girls of all shapes and sizes by the time Keri came in to try her hand. Their initial impression of the actress was that she was way too cute to play shy, unassuming Felicity. It didn't look good. Then Keri began to read her lines.That's when J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves realized that they were looking at the future Felicity. Keri had no clue that her reading was so well received and went home thinking that she blew her chances. Luckily, she didn't have long to wait before being called back for another audition. And then another, and another, until at last her agent contacted her with the good word--she had won the part."I remember signing the contracts and going, 'Oh god, my character's name is the same name as the show,'" Keri said with disbelief. Overjoyed at her good fortune, Keri hoped that the series would be bought by the WB network. For months, she walked on pins and needles, unsure of her future. She kept on auditioning, but this time she restricted her search to film roles, keeping her fingers crossed for the sake of Felicity.Something did manage to take Keri's mind off her worries. It was called Mad About Mambo, a movie for which Keri was hired to play the female lead. The film revolves around the story of a Spanish soccer star who must learn how to dance if he is to improve his game. Keri put her dancing to use while playing the young woman who teaches the athlete all the right moves. "She is a very talented actress and totally convincing as a young girl from Belfast," said the film's executive producer, actor Gabriel Byrne, in the Detour article. "Her performance has 'star' written all over it."Scheduled to film in Ireland from the middle of May, 1998, until July 14, 1998, Mad About Mambo provided Keri with the ideal place and time to work, take in some sights and snap a few photographs--in short, to do exactly what was necessary to forget about her uncertain future. "When I was not shooting," said Keri to Parade, "I went to Trinity [College] andjust sat on the steps thinking, 'I could drop out and just go to college and become a real person.'"Yet she couldn't completely ignore what was going on back in the States. Everyone was counting on her to propel the Felicity pilot into prime time--and this terrified her. Then, when the network finally came through with a thumbs up, it was still up to Keri to sell the show to potential advertisers and start generating some buzz.Keri was barraged with requests for interviews, photographers were hanging on her every gesture in search of that perfect shot, and even magazines wanted to do full-length feature stories about her. All this before anyone had so much as seen her perform. "This is definitely the most public thing I have ever done," said a slightly dazed Keri during her first appearance on The Tonight Show. In a Swing magazine article she was quoted as saying, "It's a little overwhelming. There are so many people who need things from you, and you want to please everyone."Besides her career, Keri had her boyfriend to think about. By this time, her relationship with Tony Lucca had reached a serious and committed level. When Tony was asked who was the one person, living or dead, that he would most like to spend one hour with, he answered Keri. And while Keri was more cagey about her love life, trying to keep her relationship under wraps, she did let slip that she was dating her best friend. For those following Keri's career, the identity of her long-time best-friend was no great mystery. Soon, she gave up all attempts at keeping her romance a secret.Work, publicity, her boyfriend; all these responsibilities added up to one exhausting sum. And not all of it was fun either. At one press conference, Keri was asked a few decidedly rude questions. "Like someone even asked me, 'You've done other lesser quality television shows and now you're doing good ones. Did you take acting classes in between--is that why you're good now?'" explained Keri to Entertainment Tonight. "And that was one of my first questions ... So, you just have to kind of smile through it."Somehow, Keri managed to pull it off. The advertisers werehappy and the audiences were curious. As much as two months prior to Felicity's premiere, people were already stopping the new star on the street, saying "Oh you're the girl on that new show that's not on the air yet." One time Keri was even recognized by a schoolgirl selling candy door-to-door. "Five minutes later, her little brother was at the door," recounted Keri in Parade, "then the entire candy-selling population of the neighborhood. That's real scary.""It's bizarre," said Keri of all the pre-season hype. What if people wound up hating the show? She couldn't bear the thought of the entire nation watching her fail. "If it does badly," she explained to TV Guide, "people are going to say, 'Oh that's that crappy Keri Russell series.'" Add to this the anxiety of watching your larger-than-life likeness floating past you on the side of a cross-town bus, and you'll have some notion of the trepidation Keri must have felt as word of the show spread and all eyes turned to watch Felicity for the first time.Her fears were allayed once the first show scored the highest ratings of any WB premiere to date. Now there was no denying that this was it, the event Keri had been waiting and working for all her life. "This is a very rare experience, and really like the first thing I've done that I've been really proud of," says Keri in a recent article. And as far as happy endings go, that pretty much says it all.Copyright © 1999 by Leah Furman.