Work Can Be A Beach

So you think your New Year’s resolutions are tough? Brandy Ledford has three days left to get back into Baywatch fighting form. “I’m trying to get back in shape for the bathing suit because I didn’t work out during the holidays,” the actress confesses on the phone from her Vancouver home. “I ate cake and ice cream every day. I had Martin go out at 10 o’clock at night and get me a Haagen-Dazs bar.” Martin is Ledford’s husband—rising Canadian actor and director Martin Cummins.

If the pair of twentysomethings have a joint resolution, it’s this: In 2000, try to be in the same place at the same time more than occasionally. They spent most of the five months before Christmas apart, while she played Dawn Masterton on Baywatch Hawaii, and he did movie and TV projects here. Their son, who will turn four in March, spent time on location with each of them. “The only way I get through it is that my son is so happy,” Ledford says of the separations. “It just seems that he has been well-adjusted to all this travelling and going back and forth. He is fine. If he wasn’t, then I’d have a hard time with it. He’s really a great, happy, fun-loving child who adapts.”

The protective parent requested the boy’s name not be published because creepy fans are one legacy of Cummins’ four seasons on the TV horror series Poltergeist. So just think of their little guy as Batman—that’s who he likes to think he is, anyway—and assume he’s gorgeous, considering the gene pool. Baywatch production wrapped for the season in December but Ledford is headed back to Hawaii this weekend for a video shoot. Cummins returns to Toronto in a couple of weeks for his next film, Ice Men. The low-budget drama about a group of friends during a long cottage weekend will be the directing debut of Thom Best, who was director of photography on Cummins’ pre-Christmas movie shot here, Love Come Down. In that Clement Virgo-directed feature, Cummins was cast as half-brother to Larenz Tate.

“It was a really incredible experience,” Cummins says. “Clement Virgo is awesome. He’s a great actors’ director. I have nothing but respect for the guy and I love him.”

Ice Men also has a theme of brotherly love, with Cummins and his separated-at-birth Vancouver pal Ian Tracey (Da Vinci’s Inquest) playing estranged siblings. Despite all the time he has spent in Toronto, Cummins is firmly attached to his Vancouver roots. Last year, he co-wrote and directed We All Fall Down, a semi-autobiographical movie about his hard-living years on the city’s downtown east side in his late teens and early 20s.

Ledford has dual American and Canadian citizenship—her mother was born in Winnipeg—but has thus far resisted her husband’s efforts to Canadianize her. “It’s too funny,” Cummins says. “When our son was born, you know how they put the little tuque on the youngster’s head? Well, I had her completely convinced that it was a Canadian rite of passage, eh? She would have believed anything after 24 hours of labour.”

The Redondo Beach, Calif.-raised Ledford has zero plans to check out her Manitoba roots. And no wonder—she’s cold enough on our west coast. “It’s hard to acclimatize,” she says. “I lost my tan in about 30 seconds.”

The pair met five years ago in Ft. Lauderdale while shooting Pier 66, an Aaron Spelling TV pilot that didn’t become a series, and have been together ever since. Cummins calls being married to a Baywatch, um, a Baywatch, um …

“…babe,” he chimes in, finishing my sentence, “the weirdest thing in the whole world. She’s just so not typically what you would imagine the Baywatch babe to be. For her, it was up in the air whether she’d be an accountant or an actress. She is like the full-on showrunner at our house.” Being in the same house looks like it may remain a challenge. If Fox decides to go ahead with T.R.A.X., the Renny Harlin-directed TV pilot that Cummins made here last fall, it likely will be shot here. The high-concept actioner combines two hot genres—reality TV and the supernatural—into a sort of COPS-meets-The-X-Files. It looks like a reality show, but the perps are vampires and werewolves and such. “You know, it is the most tweaked thing I have ever worked on. It is absolutely totally bizarre,” Cummins says, meaning all of it as a compliment. Ledford will stay in Vancouver for the indie-film comedy Tabloid TV, about reporters trying to blackmail their network boss out of cancelling their show. Then, if Baywatch is renewed for a 12th season, it’s back to the beach—and gym.

by Claire Bickley
Toronto Sun