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Lucy Lawless Grateful to Make it Out of Katrina's Path

The National Ledger
31 August 2005

By Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel
Aug 31, 2005

From Baton Rouge, La., Lucy Lawless tells us she's definitely among those who consider themselves lucky to be alive after rushing out of the path of Hurricane Katrina. She's been working and temporarily living in New Orleans, making the CBS Halloween movie "Vampire Bats."

"I've been staying in a lovely little house in the French Quarter, and at first, I was planning to ride out the storm. Then we heard it was going to be a Category 5 storm, and I rang the producer and said, 'Let's get out of here. This is crazy,'" she recounts. Initially, Lucy planned to get to Los Angeles. Realizing that had become impossible, "We lowered our sites and thought we'd get to Houston. Then we found that was impossible and thought, 'Hell, let's try to get to Baton Rouge.' Our choices were eroding by the hour." She notes that she and the producers "were the last out" from the production. "The local crew left days ago. We took the film stock with us and the payroll."

On the road Sunday evening, "It took us nine hours to travel a distance that usually takes 15 minutes. We knew they were going to sandbag off the road, and our big fear was that we'd be turned back and get caught in the storm," she admits.

Lawless and exec producer Jill Tanner wound up staying with a Baton Rouge family they met through a special effects artist. "I've never depended on the kindness of strangers before, but here, with the generosity of these people in the South, it seems appropriate," says the native of New Zealand.

The former "Xena: Warrior Princess" star actually had several offers for private homes in which to stay, some set up by a network of loyal "Xena" fans. In fact, some of the fans had managed to charter a plane and pilot for Lucy to leave the area, "but we couldn't make it out to where the plane was," she says, clearly moved by the efforts. She's grateful, also, that husband Robert Tapert and their two young sons, who had been staying at the house, happened to have left New Orleans a week ago.

The company has about a week's worth of shooting to go in the movie. "But I've seen the street where I was living and places where we've been shooting on the news, and they're just devastated. We just hope everyone else got out all right."

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