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Lucy's Love Catch
Lucy's Wedding Joy - My Perfect Love Match
New Zealand Woman's Day
27 October 1997
Scanned/transcribed by MaryD
The Xena star is blissfully happy about her upcoming wedding.
NEWLY engaged Lucy Lawless has landed the right man, says a family friend who saw love blossom between the Xena: Warrior Princess star and television producer Rob Tapert.
North Island tour operator Doug Posa knew the pair were meant for each other when he noticed their "special chemistry" during a fishing outing last year. "They looked like the perfect family," says Doug of Lucy, her new man and her daughter Daisy, 9, who had escaped Auckland for a weekend.
"I think both Lucy and Rob enjoyed getting away from the pressures of filming, and the publicity. Although they were very restrained in front of Daisy, you could see there was chemistry."
Doug, who has known dolphin-watcher Lucy for five years, says she, Rob and Daisy spent an idyllic day fishing off Whakatane, and American-born Rob was thrilled to catch two yellow-fin tuna.
"Lucy and Rob seemed so compatible. They both loved the sea, that was obvious. They were both just so easygoing, so easy to get on with. I know it is a cliche, but they were made for each." Doug admits he was cautious about Rob, a big-time Hollywood television producer, but he quickly warmed to him.
"He was a down-to-earth person, just like Lucy, not a big flashy producer like you might think. If you didn't know he was an American, you would think he was a Kiwi.
"He got on really well with little Daisy. He would make a great father."
It was no surprise to Doug when it was announced on US television show Entertainment Tonight last week Lucy and Rob were to marry in the New Year.
"I am not sure you can ever say at the beginning of a relationship they were destined to be married, but I'm certainly glad they are going to tie the knot, and I wish them all the best," says Doug.
Rob reportedly proposed to super-sexy Lucy, who has just finished a sell-out seven-week season of Grease! on Broadway in New York, over a candlelit dinner for two. It will be the second marriage for both lovebirds. Lucy was formerly married to bar manager Garth Lawless, Daisy's father, and Rob was married to a US television scriptwriter.
Lucy's large, close family was delighted to hear of her engagement. Her proud parents, Frank and Julie Ryan, flew to New York to see her play Rizzo in Grease! and to share her happy news. They also passed on congratulations from Lucy's six brothers and sisters, and then toured the US on a holiday of a lifetime.
Handsome, laid-back Rob is popular among the crew on the set of Xena, a show he sometimes directs. His no-fuss personality is reportedly what Lucy loves about him. The happy pair love to take time out in Taupo, where they indulge in Rob's passion for fly fishing.
When they're not away on romantic weekends, they love to don jeans and T-shirts and hang out in her west Auckland home, which she has had extensively renovated.
Although Lucy is excited about the upcoming nuptials, she says divorcing her first husband recently and being a single, working mother was the hardest personal challenge she has overcome. Her bravery and courage, qualities she shares with her dynamic character Xena, are especially admired by actor Geoff Gann — otherwise known as Karen Dior — who appeared with her on the highest-ever-rating episode of Xena in the US earlier this year.
When Geoff, who has AIDS, heard of Lucy's engagement he spoke of his special friendship with the stunning actress. He says they met on the set of Xena in Auckland and quickly forged a close friendship.
"Lucy and I just bonded instantly and became best friends," says Geoff. "I told her about having AIDS and she told me about the accident [last October] that broke her pelvis. She gave me so much support. She helped my acting and is really the most fabulous and giving person."
The episode, filmed last October and expected to screen in New Zealand next year on TV3, saw Geoff playing a man masquerading as a female beauty queen. Xena discovers his facade and keeps his secret, with the episode ending in a poignant kiss, which caused a stir when it screened in the US.
But Geoff says Lucy ignored opinion she was wrong to kiss an AIDS sufferer. He says the kiss was at her insistence, to prove that people with the disease deserve to be treated like everyone else.
"The whole scandal that Lucy Lawless kissed someone with AIDS just made people want to watch," he says. "It was just supposed to be one of those beauty-pageant kisses on the cheek, but Lucy suggested I should grab her, dip her and give her a really passionate kiss," he laughs.
The furore over the kiss didn't phase Geoff, who was taunted as a child for being gay. His AIDS has improved since he started taking a revolutionary new treatment, protease inhibitors. He says his next move is to try to catch up with Lucy. "Most of all I would love to go back to New Zealand and do another Xena."
Story: Anna Avino & Eric McFarlane