Rena stars as "Christie Dunbar" on ABC's series "Blind Justice." Possessing a dark but earthy beauty and a natural, winning smile, actress Rena Sofer has found notable small-screen success in such series as Melrose Place, Just Shoot Me, and Coupling after spending the majority of the 1990s in an Emmy-winning role on the daytime soap opera General Hospital. As the millennium turned, so did Sofer's cinematic aspirations, with keen-eyed movie lovers spotting her in such feature efforts as Traffic (2000) and March (2001). An Arcadia, CA, native, Sofer relocated to Pittsburgh when her Orthodox Jewish rabbi father and psychology teacher mother divorced. Spotted by a New York talent agent at the age of 15, it wasn't long before Sofer was appearing on the daytime drama Loving and landing roles on such small-screen efforts as Herman's Head and Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style. In 1992, she made her big-screen debut with a small role in Sidney Lumet's A Stranger Among Us with Melanie Griffith. Beginning a four-year run on General Hospital in 1993, Sofer would simultaneously appear in numerous made-for-television features before beginning her year-long run on Melrose Place in 1998. She made a notable leap back to the big screen with a small role in the 2000 comedy Keeping the Faith, and after following up with Traffic, Sofer settled back into sitcom life with a high-profile guest-starring role on Ed. In the 2002 made-for television remake of Carrie, her part as a sympathetic high school teacher proved a highlight of the otherwise forgettable effort, and in 2003, she headed the cast of Coupling, the highly anticipated American remake of the popular U.K. sitcom. Rena was born on December 2, 1968, in California.
More fun stuff about Rena Sofer
She was married to 'Wally Kurth' who plays her husband on "General Hospital" (1963).
Gave birth to a girl- Rosabel Rosalind Kurth. She weighed 7 lbs, 10 ounces. She was 20 1/2 inches with black hair and blue eyes. Her middle name comes from the recently deceased Rosalind Cash, whom both Rena and her husband absolutely adored. [17 September 1996]
Announced her engagement to director/producer Sanford Bookstaver. [September 2002]
Her wedding to Sanford Bookstaver was featured in the February 2004 issue of InStyle Magazine.
Won a Daytime Emmy Award and a Soap Opera Digest Award in 1995 for her role on "General Hospital"
In February , 2005 Can now be seen in the new ABC drama Blind Justice.
Rena Sofer: Blind Justice
ABC TO BROADCAST NEW MIDSEASON POLICE DRAMA "BLIND JUSTICE" WITH VIDEO DESCRIPTION FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED
First Regular ABC Series to Be Offered with Video Description Will Premiere Tuesday, March 8
For the first time on the ABC Television Network, a regular scripted series -- "Blind Justice," from Steven Bochco Productions -- will be broadcast with video description for the visually impaired. "Blind Justice," the next generation of police drama, chronicles the journey of Detective Jim Dunbar, an officer blinded in a shootout because of his partner's negligence.
Video description is a broadcast service for the visually impaired which offers a descriptive narrative woven into the soundtrack between character dialogue. It is activated via the SAP (Secondary Audio Programming) feature on modern televisions. To date, ABC has offered selected theatrical films or movies-for-television with video description, but never before a regular series.
"Blind Justice," which premieres TUESDAY, MARCH 8 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on ABC, is the latest dramatic realization by Steven Bochco, who also created the critically acclaimed and long-running series "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue."
The midseason series will star Ron Eldard as Detective Jim Dunbar, Marisol Nichols as Detective Karen Bettancourt, Rena Sofer as Christie Dunbar, Reno Wilson as Detective Tom, Frank Grillo as Detective Marty Russo and Michael Gaston as Lieutenant Fisk.
Co-creators of "Blind Justice," along with Bochco, are Nicholas Wootton and Matt Olmstead. Bill Clark and John Badham serve as executive producers. The series is produced by Steven Bochco Productions in association with Paramount Network Television for ABC.
A blind cop and his guide dog
When "NYPD Blue" ends its 12-year run in March, creator Steven Bochco will put a new cop on the beat. A blind one.
Ron Eldard plays Detective Jim Dunbar, who was blinded by a gunshot wound during a robbery, but has fought to keep his job. Now he works the beat with his Seeing Eye dog.
"Blind Justice" premieres March 8 at 10 p.m., and will have the considerable benefit of "Blue's" old time slot.
Eldard admits that the concept may seem ridiculous. A blind cop with a gun is a tough sell, especially from a producer like Bochco, whose cop-show signature is gritty realism.
Eldard and his on-screen partner, Marisol Nichols, did ride along with NYPD officers to prepare for their parts.
What was the real cops' reaction to Eldard's character?
"Same as everyone else's: ‘This is ... ridiculous,' " Eldard said.
"But," he added, "they tried to be cool about it, because we were actors and they were taking us on ride-alongs, and we had the technical adviser for ‘NYPD Blue' (Bill Clark) with us, who had been a cop, so I could see they were giving us respect. But then, after about an hour or two in the car, they're like, ‘Dude, come on, you can't have a gun. There's no way.'"
Dunbar is paired with a very reluctant, very tough female detective (Nichols), who views Dunbar as a humiliating baby-sitting assignment. In the squad room, Dunbar is the victim of constant hazing from a disgruntled detective (Frank Grillo). Dunbar's lieutenant (Michael Gaston) barely tolerates him. And his wife (Rena Sofer) is about to leave him. But still he soldiers on.
"It's a really (gutsy) metaphor," Eldard said. "Here is someone who has everything, who's at the top of his life, he's a tough guy, and then suddenly his arrogance and his hubris are tamed."
A continuing theme of skepticism, they hope, will ground the story in some semblance of reality, Eldard said.
"Bottom line, I could never be out there with a gun. There's no way a blind guy could draw the gun. But you know there's so many great pieces of art that are ... completely unrealistic," he explained.
"'Friends' — I love them, they don't mirror reality in many ways at all. ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm' — in the real world, that guy would get his face punched in," Eldard said. "But you know what, I go with it. So here, if the audience is too worried about the gun, then we've totally failed. It means we're just a cop show about a blind guy."
Rena Sofer excited to star in 'Coupling'
Say, Rena Sofer! How do you feel starring in "Coupling," the racy new sitcom that has reveled in publicity (and gotten a good scolding) since NBC announced it last spring?
"Great!" replies Sofer with a big smile. "Eighteen years in this business, and I'm finally on the show that everybody's talking about. Fine! Talk about us! Thank you!"
Like Susan, her character on "Coupling" (Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. EDT), Sofer is playful but straight-talking. Independent? Sure, "but not afraid to get into relationships," she says, noting with a laugh "I've been married twice" - in May she wed director Sanford Bookstaver - "so obviously I'm not afraid of that."
Sofer is a brunette with porcelain skin and incandescent blue eyes. Beauty is an asset for a comedy about six thirtyish singles unified by mix-and-match sex and randy repartee.
The show stars Colin Ferguson, Jay Harrington, Christopher Moynihan, Lindsay Price and Sonya Walger as well as Sofer, who says she was thrilled to get the call that a role for her might be available: She already was a big fan of the original British "Coupling," watching it devotedly on BBC America.
"When they said 'You're auditioning,' my thoughts just ran wild: 'Who am I gonna play? Is it Sally or Jane or Susan? Susan? Yeah, that works.'"
It might work great for Sofer, 34, after years of jobs that never quite launched her: a short stay on "Just Shoot Me"; six episodes on "Ed"; at least one pilot that didn't get picked up; the final season of "Melrose Place"; "Oh Grow Up," a Fox sitcom that quickly bit the dust in 1999.
She was a regular on the daytime drama "Loving," then spent six years on "General Hospital" (where she met co-star Wally Kurth, who became her first husband and the father of her daughter, now 7).
Hers is a lengthy list of credits for a New Jersey schoolgirl who strayed into show business because "I had absolutely no direction."
Rena Sofer: Just Shoot Me
Bob: The hit NBC comedy Just Shoot Me has a new cast member this year and they will introduce her in a new episode Tuesday night at 8 o'clock. She's the very lovely Rena Sofer. Hello, Rena how are you?
Rena Sofer: I'm good how are you?
Bob: I have more about you. This Emmy award-winning actress is an alum of General Hospital and Melrose Place and has also had roles in the hit series Friends, Seinfeld, Spin City, NYPD Blue, and Ed.
Rena Sofer: Well...[laughing] I love the NYPD Blue credit. I got paid for it but I never actually ended up shooting anything on that show. It's a nice thought.
Bob: Really? What happened?
Spike: So you got a check but you never appeared?
Rena Sofer: Exactly.
Bob: Were going to be the dead prostitute and then they didn't have time for that?
Rena Sofer: No, thank you, a little bit more than the dead prostitute.
Bob: I'm sorry.
Spike: No. No. No. We didn't mean to belie your acting ability with that comment.
Bob: But that's usually what the quickie roles on that show are. They quickly cover her up. And then Dennis Franz gets half naked.
Rena Sofer: Yes Yes exactly. That's like the Kevin Costner thing in the Big Chill, right?
Bob: So okay that didn't happen. We were just trying to build you up. I'm sorry.
Rena Sofer: Oh no, that's lovely. It's lovely.
Bob: Well Rena this is like the greatest thing that could happen to someone. You don't have to worry about whether the show is a hit.
Rena Sofer: Oh my god, isn't it great?
Bob: Yeah. It's Just Shoot Me your on. And you're brought in supposedly to make sweeping changes and everyone on the staff tells you that the boss just wants to sleep with you so you quite. Is that right?
Rena Sofer: [laughing] No I come on basically to kind of shake things up a little bit over at the magazine. I really don't belong there. And yet it doesn't stop me from actually running the show. So it's a fabulous thing. Everybody either likes me or hates me and changes their mind about that quite often, you know, during every week.
Bob: How hard is it to step into an already existing cast, that's in a groove and establish yourself?
Rena Sofer: You know what, I'm the queen of it. I entered General Hospital in its 30th year. I entered Melrose Place in its 8th year. Ed was already on. I did another soap opera, Loving, which was on in it's 7th year. You know, I kind of do that, so I'm kind of use to it.
Spike: You're like a pacemaker, a gorgeous pacemaker. [laughing]
Rena Sofer: I know. They all call me the closer. I'm the closer.
Spike: Well, closer means you're at the end of a ballgame, so I wouldn't call yourself "closer" .
Rena Sofer: [laughing] Okay. Oh well.
Bob: Eric printed up a bunch of glamorous photos of you from the Internet that are very nice.
Rena Sofer: Oh thank you.
Bob: And when I say Internet that does not mean anything bad. These are good.
Rena Sofer. Although I have seen one of those kinds of pictures about me on the Internet.
Rena Sofer: That I have to say is incredibly humorous.
Bob: It's not real?
Rena Sofer: Well, it's so obviously not real it's ridiculous.
Spike: You were never in bed with Spock and Kirk. [laughing] I've seen that one and it's offensive.
Bob: But if I had been told that these were three or four different women, and I wasn't really being alerted that they might all be the same person...you have a bunch of different looks.
Rena Sofer: Yeah, yeah. Well I try. You know as an actor you want to try to look as different as possible so that you can play as many different roles and sometimes you are kind of pigeonedholed into certain things so it's always nice to say 'see I can look different'. Also weight gain and loss always helps too. [laughing] I'm sure you've got some old pictures in there of me.
Bob: I'm looking, I'm looking. They all look lovely.
Rena Sofer: Oh thank you.
Bob: In one you are in a kind of Italian straight haired curling around the cheeks look and you have THAT smile and another one it's a more glamorous Catherine Zetha Jones with the hairdo up this and you've got your...oh how would you describe this...she's got her elbows back...
Spike: Very statuesque.
Rena Sofer: Thrusting out the chest.
Bob & Spike: YES
Spike: Is there a cleaver or classic way to say that.
Bob: She just did.
Bob: Now I want to ask you a little bit about your childhood because I thought it was interesting.
Rena Sofer: Okay
Bob: Something happened to you that in show business it's the dream scenario and that is that you get discovered. You get spotted as a teenager.
Rena Sofer: Right
Bob: In a Greenwich Village in a boutique, by a scout for a modeling agency.
Rena Sofer: Right
Bob: Do you still remember that moment crystal clear. I would think that you would remember it your whole life.
Rena Sofer: You know what, I do. I will always remember it. It was one of those surreal moments where you're being watched by somebody and you can't figure out why. Are they hitting on you? Are they…
Rena Sofer: Do they know you? Are they…what? You have no idea what it is. And the next thing you know, they walk up to you and say 'I'm with a modeling agency would you like to be a model'?
Spike: Sure, so definitely hitting on you. [laughing]
Rena Sofer: And I was only 15 years old and I had braces. I wasn't the kind of kid who was ever told I was going to be a model.
Spike: So you mace the guy and run for a police officer and then what?
Rena Sofer: It was actually a woman. So since we were in The Village I thought that she was hitting on me.
Rena Sofer: So then next thing you know I had shown my father her card and she was with the Elite Modeling Agency, and I had heard of Elite, and next thing you know my dad says 'You should do it, you should do it, you should do it'. And I did it and ...
Bob: And you didn't like it.
Rena Sofer: I hated it! My daughter's looking at me because I don't like that word 'hate'. I didn't like it very much. And I didn't like it so much that I gave it up after three weeks. And the woman said 'well, have you ever thought of acting'? And I went 'no' and the next thing you know she had me in classes. And we were growing my hair out, and we were getting my braces off, and getting all together, and getting ready. And the next thing you know I started working.
Bob: Wow. What did you most dislike about the modeling? Was it the posing or the lifestyle? Because I have heard that modeling is extremely tough.
Rena Sofer: I never even made it to the lifestyle nor did I make it to the posing. I could not stand the fact that you would walk in with all of these hopes and dreams…and I was just on such a high that people thought that I was pretty enough to model...and then you walk into this room and this photographer won't even look at your face. All he does is look at a book and go 'No. No. No. No. No. Come back when you have better pictures. NEXT.' That's it, every single time. I dealt with that, I don't know, five or six times a day every day for three weeks and I had a total breakdown. I just thought 'I'm the worst, I'm horrible, I can't do anything' and I was so depressed about it that my dad said 'you're not doing this anymore'. And with acting you can always get better. You can always change yourself for a role. It's not just about you physical looks, you can ACT. So we tried that and it worked.
Spike: And your dad I understand is an orthodox rabbi?
Rena Sofer: Yes he is.
Spike: So he's probably pretty protective of his little girl I would imagine.
Rena Sofer: [laughing] Somewhat. He is. He's a great guy. My dad lives with me now actually. He is a single dad who raised a little girl who grew up to be an actress, so I don't know how protective he was but he kind of pushed me out the door and went 'Go ahead', so.
Bob: You mentioned your little girl is with you right now.
Rena Sofer: Yes
Bob: What is her name?
Rena Sofer: Rosabel. We are getting her ready for school. My finance is going to drive her to school for me today.
Bob: How old is Rosabel?
Rena Sofer: Six years old.
Bob: Six. Can we say hi to her?
Rena Sofer: Sure. [to Rosabel] Honey do you want to say hi?
Bob: She trusts us with her kid.
Bob: Hi Rosabel, how are you?
Bob: Do you ever watch your mommy on tv?
Bob: What do you think? Is she funny?
Rosabel: mm um
Bob: Alright cool. Go have a good day at school, Rosabel.
Rosabel: Okay, bye
Bob: Bye, bye
Rena Sofer: She's so unaffected it's ridiculous. She's like 'yeah, whatever'. [laughing]
Spike: Congratulations. That is the mission.
Bob: Rena thank you so much for your time.
Rena Sofer: You're welcome. Thank you.
Bob: We are looking forward to see you. She's brand new on the NBC comedy Just Shoot Me, Tuesday 8 o'clock. Rena Sofer.
Rena Sofer: Thank you guys!
Rena Sofer: Oh Grow Up
For Rena Sofer, playing Lois on General Hospital was a combination of personal experience and careful study. Her success in this endeavor was represented by her Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, and the Outstanding Younger Leading Actress trophy she received during the nationally televised Soap Opera Awards gala. Despite an upbringing that had her moving from town to town, Rena has a firmly based devotion to family much like that of Lois. Born in Arcadia, California, Rena moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, following her parents' divorce, and later to North Bergen, New Jersey, where she finished high school. Her father is an Orthodox Jewish rabbi in New Jersey; her mother lives in Boston where she teaches psychology.
At age 15, Rena was discovered by a New York talent agent who, taken by Rena's dark brown hair and deep blue eyes, directed her towards acting classes. Numerous roles on stage, and in feature films and television, soon followed. Rena made her feature film debut in "The Only One," and was also seen in director Sidney Lumet's "A Stranger Among Us." She has appeared on television in "Saved By the Bell: Hawaiian Style," "Another World," and as "Rocky" McKenzie on the ABC daytime drama, "Loving." Ms. Sofer will soon be seen starring in the cable television movie, "A Reasonable Woman: The Kerry Ellison Story." Among many other roles, in 1998 she joined Fox's "Melrose Place" as Eve Cleary, a mysterious friend from Amanda's (Heather Locklear) past. Sofer also guest-starred in many television comedy series, including "Seinfeld," "Caroline in the City," "Ellen" and "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place," among others.
An active athlete, Rena enjoys skating, cycling and swimming. She is also a successful businesswoman, with partnerships in several profitable endeavors including the "Calling 4 the Cure" AIDS information/fundraising phone card. Rena and fellow "GH" actor Wallace Kurth (Ned Ashton) share a home in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles with their children and dog, Sally.