Los Angeles Times

In The Pipeline: Catching up with two women

This week, a couple of revisits with two women I recently wrote about in this column.

Last year, I sat down with Mary McDonough, whom you may remember as Erin Walton from "The Waltons." It was soon after she'd started teaching a local acting class here in Huntington Beach for students.

Mary is still teaching the kids, but recently, she invited me up to Los Angeles to watch her take part in a Waltons reunion, something she was co-producing in conjunction with "The Waltons"' return to TV (it just began re-airing on the Inspiration Network).

It was a fascinating day, watching as everyone got together. Though Richard Thomas (John-Boy) taped his segments in New York, David Harper (Jim-Bob), Judy Norton-Taylor (Mary Ellen), Eric Scott (Ben); Jon Walmsley (Jason); Kami Cotler (Elizabeth), Ralph Waite (John Walton Sr.) and Michael Learned (Olivia) were all there.

Even show creator Earl Hamner, Jr. (the real life John-Boy) attended.

Watching the cast interact while watching old episodes was extremely interesting (and nostalgic), and Mary was right in the thick of things, holding forth at a long table, guiding the discussions as the camera rolled.

There were contagious laughs on set as the cast reflected about the show back in the '70s, and everyone seemed thoroughly comfortable with each other. If you watch the show today on Inspiration, you should be able to see some of the segments they taped.

Thankfully, Mary is also finishing up her new book, "Lessons from the Mountain: What I Learned from Erin Walton." The book comes out next May, but is already available as a pre-order on http://www.amazon.com.

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There's another woman I wrote about a few months ago, singer Franki Doll, who, along with her band The Broken Toys, had just been chosen by the clothing chain Hot Topic to be its next featured band (which means Franki's new CD would be featured in stores and the band would tour throughout the company's 688 national locations, gaining incredible exposure).

Well, the CD was just released, and Franki is thrilled with it. Titled "Step Right Up," the CD is brimming with the sort of intense, meaningful, anthemic music that has become the band's trademark.

When asked if they will ever sign with a record label, Doll said the answer is still up in the air.

"We're open to talk to anyone," she said. "The boys and I are tight, and if we all collectively feel it is the right deal, we will sign. Keep watching!"

Mike McDougal, the buyer at Hot Topic, said this about the new release: "Franki Doll & The Broken Toys demonstrate a real passion for their music that conveys itself clearly from their latest release 'Step Right Up' to their energetic live performance. This band works until the quality of whatever they are doing is perfected, and they will only continue to grow and strengthen their fan base with the determination that each member demonstrates. I am honored to have partnered with Franki Doll, and I hope to continue working with her in the future."

Wishing the best of luck to Franki Doll, who has been through many tough trials in her young life. I encourage you to check the CD out, and for more information on her and the band, visit http://www.myspace.com/frankidoll.

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Note from the offices of Ken Yabuki D.D.S. and Ryan Wyn D.D.S. located at 18800 Main St., Suite 210 in Huntington Beach: "We are buying back Halloween candy from neighbor kids for $1 per pound, and then sending it to the troops overseas! What a great way to brighten the day of an American soldier. Date and time for the Candy Buy Back is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 1 to Friday, Nov. 5."

CHRIS EPTING is the author of 18 books, including the new "Hello, It's Me: Dispatches from a Pop Culture Junkie." You can write him at chris@chrisepting.com.

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