It’s a mystery to Brooke Shields.
Somehow, the small coffee table in front of her has become filled with tiny white teapots. And, she’s not even drinking tea.
One reason for the clutter may be the steady stream of reporters she’s been talking to at the Television Critics Association meetings. The 50-year-old actress, who has made guest appearances on television shows, hasn’t had a regular part to play on TV since her NBC drama “Lipstick Jungle” ended in 2009.
Now, she’s starring in a series of “Flower Shop Mystery” movies based on a series of books by Kate Collins for the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel. “Flower Shop Mystery: Mum’s The Word” debuted Sunday, Jan. 17, but will be replayed.
In the new mystery series, Abby Knight (Shields) is a former lawyer turned flower shop owner who is starting over after the death of her husband. That all changes when the peaceful town of New Chapel is the scene of a murder. Her good friend is the prime suspect and that sends her on a quest to find the real killer.
Being part of a continuing set of movies and not a full-time series is perfect for Shields, who juggles her career with the demands of being a mom. The movie series also gave Shields her first opportunity to work as executive producer for a project in which she’s starring.
Shields has a long list of movie and TV credits dating back to when she was a child. There was never an opportunity to do anything else but act. But, now she loves being part of all the aspects of making movies. At the same time, it took some adjusting.
“It’s been an education but it has been lovely to work within the context of everybody weighing in. It almost feels like theater,” Shield says.
The movies are being filmed in North Bay, a small community in the northern most regions of Ontario, Canada. The location gives the cast and crew the opportunity to take over the entire town to create this idealistic community for the flower shop owner.
Being away from the normal spots where shows or films are produced has helped Shields learn the producer craft. She was able to talk with members of the team while having dinner or taking a break for the evening. And, she loved working in a place that embraced the cast and crew so deeply.
“We are also breathing a lot into the economy there and they are very appreciative of that,” Shield says.
The experience has been positive for Shields on multiple levels. She loves the book series and playing the character. The filming was a community effort. And, she’s part of the Hallmark family, which is turning out family friendly programming for two channels.
She loves the idea her film will be part of the programming that brings families together to watch the mystery unfold. Her youngest daughter, 9-year-old Hammond, is particularly interested in the mystery part.
Even before Shields was cast, her daughter had expressed an interest in becoming a detective. Shields laughs when she talks about how she’s got business cards that say no mystery is too small and how all of her Christmas gifts were spy equipment.
Part of that passion for mysteries comes from Shields, who grew up a huge fan of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books. She loved them and was the right age to play the female detective, but Shields says when she was younger there wasn’t an effort made by actors to find their own projects.
The “Flower Shop Mystery” found her. Shields got a call from executives at Hallmark saying the books had been purchased and they wanted her to play the sleuth with a green thumb.
As soon as she signed on to the project, Shields read the first six books in the series. She still has a passion for mystery books and has held to a strict rule since she was young: She never reads the last page. She prefers trying to figure out the solution.
This is the last season of “American Idol.” At least for now, the FOX reality competition show is going off the air.
But that hasn’t affected the way the judges are looking at the competition.
“The way we treat everybody auditioning this year is exactly the same as the other years. I’m not thinking of this as the farewell season at all in terms of what my job is,” says judge Harry Connick Jr.. “We are looking at people. We see who they are, look at their talent, assess their talent, and try to figure out whether they would be a valuable part of the show and base it on that. So it has nothing to do with anything else. We are just completely focused on the task at hand.”
One thing that has remained the same is how tough it is to judge the talent. Connick started on the show as a mentor, a role he has always enjoyed. He misses just getting to hang out with the young singers.
“When I’m back stage and I see these young kids walking around, I walk the other way, and they probably think that I have some kind of personality problem, because I don’t even say ‘Hi’ to them, because I don’t want to know that their godmother is my uncle’s best friend, because that’s going to change how I respond to their performance,” Connick says. “So until they don’t get the votes to stay on the show, that’s when I go up to them and say, ‘Hey, great job.’
“And they look at me like I have horns coming out of my head.”