The Raggedy Annie of Party of Five

No one’s ever accused Paige Turco of being the life of the Party. Since joining the cast of the four-hankie Fox hit Party of Five last October, her character — single mom Annie Mott — has had a tumultuous relationship with fellow alcoholic Bailey, gotten fired from her job, and fallen off the wagon.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a TV character facing more prickly issues, unless of course you tuned in to ABC’s NYPD Blue — on which Turco plays Abby Sullivan, a lesbian cop who’s about to give birth to Detective Medavoy’s baby. ”I feel blessed,” Turco says. ”It’s not very often you get to play characters as different as Annie and Abby.” Especially at the same time. ”Yeah, it seems like when it rains, it pours,” she says. ”I’ve worked really hard for years. Now I just happen to be on things that people know.”

Soap fans remember Turco as the virginal Lanie on All My Children, while adolescent boys recognize her as TV reporter April O’Neil from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films. Turco also appeared in the paranormal drama American Gothic before auditioning for a bit part on Blue. She didn’t get that one, but cocreator David Milch was so impressed he assured Turco he’d write a role just for her. ”Part of me went, ‘I’ll never hear from him again,”’ she says. ”When I did, I thought, Finally, somebody said something and meant it.”

PO5 creators Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman, fans of Turco’s work on Blue, knew she’d be perfect as Annie. ”She has amazing range,” says Keyser. ”She has the ability to feel like she’s got her life completely under control. And yet she also does a good job of playing somebody whose life is falling apart. You really feel for her.”

Turco will be Partying until the end of the season but can’t reveal her character’s fate beyond then. ”This is one of those times when I’m just enjoying the work I’m doing now,” she says. ”But it’d be nice to do something with humor. Going from the token virgin to working with turtles to playing a lesbian and an alcoholic has been pretty intense.”

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