PAA DONNA ABANDANDO

Played by Gail O'Grady: The first thing you needed to know about the lovely Miss Abandando is that she holds a special place in her heart for the NY Rangers, which means she loves lost causes (which the Rangers were until they finall won the Stanley Cup in 1994 after a 50-year curse). That also explains why she agreed to take a relatively thankless job as the receptionist (or, in NYPD parlance, "PAA") for the 15th detective's squad, and why she fell for nebbishy Greg Medavoy. Their affair was complicated by his marriage, her trampy sister Dana, and an old flame of Donna's who used to play for the Rangers. Eventually, the stress of it all proved too much, and she broke things off with Greg. A year or so later, she received a job offer from Apple Computers that was too good to pass up, and the Queens gal moved out to Silicon Valley.


Gail O'Grady

Born in Detroit (on January 23, 1963), but, like Dennis Franz, raised in Chicago, Gail O'Grady first found fame in 1987 in a Diet Pepsi commercial with Michael J. Fox, in which he risked life and limb to bring her a can of her favorite soda. Quite a step up from the year before, when her role in "The Three Amigos" wound up on the cutting room floor.

She spent several years doing TV guest spots (most notably as a superficial USO performer on the early episodes of "China Beach"), as well as a few parts in lame-o movies like "Nobody's Perfect" (which co-starred Chad Lowe as a college student who gets in drag to be near O'Grady).

She was cast as the squad's civilian aide on "NYPD Blue," and though the part was originally intended to be a bimbo role, O'Grady's warmth and intelligence gave writer David Milch a change of heart, and he transformed Donna Abandando into a good-hearted woman who fell in love with hard luck Det. Medavoy. Originally signed for only three or four episodes, O'Grady became a series regular in short order.

Her role on the show began to shrink as Gail appeared in a number of TV movies and miniseries (though there's some question as to which of the two is the cause and which is the effect), and she eventually decided to leave "Blue" after signing a deal to do a sitcom for Fox, though the show never made it past the pilot stage. She's since bounced around in TV-movies and small feature film roles, but remains on good terms with the cast and crew -- she was the only former "Blue" regular to show up at the 100th episode party back in January of '98.

Beginning in the fall of 2002, she'll be part of the cast of the NBC nostalgic family drama "American Dreams."


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