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Book Author Turns Movie Actor for a Day

Monica Potter and Mark.JPG

(Mill Valley, California)

I can't believe I got to play "movie star" for a day--well, sort of. I was cast as an extra in the new TV show, "Parenthood," which is filming around the Bay Area today and for the next couple of weeks.

The show stars Craig T. Nelson ("Coach," "Blades of Glory"); Peter Krause ("Six Feet Under"); and Monica Potter ("Boston Legal").

Our scene was a little league game at Boyle Park in Mill Valley.

Monica Potter (shown in the photo above) asked me if she could have my newspaper. I said "Okay," but I told her I could not give up the "Arts" section because my photo was in it. When she asked why, I explained it was because there was a photo of me for my new book. I am part of "Reading Week" for the Contra Costa County Library System, May 3 through 10.

Well, suddenly Monica, Craig T. Nelson and all the extras in the bleachers wanted to know about my book, so I got one out of the car. They quizzed me during a long break in filming about all my journeys on the campaign trail. It was like an impromptu book lecture and signing! A few of them took home signed copies! What a hoot!

You, too, can own a copy of "Age of Obama: A Reporter's Journey with Clinton, McCain and Obama in the Making of the President 2008" by clicking on the blue book button on the right side of this screen.

Okay, my acting career is over. Back to being a writer tomorrow!

Charities and Volunteers Need to Bridge the Government Gap

Mark at Comcast Cares Day.JPG

(Alameda, California)

In these tough economic times, anyone expecting the government to fix all the problems is sadly mistaken. The budget shortfalls at the federal, state and local levels make that impossible, despite all the clamor over stimulus packages and bailout plans.

It's going to take a lot of help from the private sector--from charities and nonprofits and from basic "people-helping-people" efforts.

I was part of one such effort today. "Comcast Cares Day" is a nationwide effort of the country's largest cable company. I work for Comcast a couple of days a month, hosting the "Comcast Newsmakers" show. I was at Encinal High School in Alameda (pictured above) and at Hubbard Elementary School in San Jose. Both schools had hundreds of volunteers fixing up and cleaning up the campuses. They were painting and gardening and taking care of lots of other odds and ends. In Northern California alone, Comcast had a force of 4,000 volunteers fixing up twenty-five schools. As I said, just "people helping people!"

There are other ways to help. Save the date for Friday, May 29, 2009. The Tri-Valley Community Foundation and its Hacienda Helping Hands program will host "A Taste of Summer" BBQ to raise funds for many programs that serve the community with food aid, health care, support for the arts and many other services. I will be the "emcee" of the event. We'll have a great T.G.I.F. BBQ cook-off and many other fun activities. For tickets and more information, go to http://helpinghands.hacienda.org

This blog is about politics, but the truth is that the political system can address only a fraction of our problems. We have to work together to identify needs and rally people around finding solutions!

From time to time, I try to salute worthy charities and non-profit efforts in this column because they make our communities better places. Hats off to all who helped across the nation on "Comcast Cares Day."

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