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Parting Shot | My Favorite Weekend: John Spencer

His garden stars in a supporting role

September 18, 2003|Lisa Boone

We all know what he's going to be doing this weekend: attending the 55th annual Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday. The veteran actor received his fourth Emmy nomination this year for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series for his role as Chief of Staff Leo McGarry on NBC's White House drama "The West Wing." He took home the Emmy last year. But there's more to life than awards. Like gardening.


First and foremost, my favorite thing to do is not to set an alarm clock. I love sleeping in. I love my property and backyard. I have a waterfall. I've taken to learning my words outside. I love the movies and the theater, but usually the things I do on the weekends are away from the performing arts. I spend half of Saturday and Sunday learning my lines. Basically I try to cram everything in on the weekend that I can't do during the week: laundry, catching up with friends, plugging in my TiVo.

No elitism

I love going out to dinner. I'll get a hot dog at Pink's. I stand in line with everyone. Mrs. Pink says, "Call ahead and we'll bring it out to you!" but that makes people angry. Besides, I have trouble with elitism. Or I'll get a slice of pizza at Cathy Moriarty's Mulberry Street Pizzeria. It's the best pizza in L.A. -- the only pizza that is truly New York pizza. You can get a couple of slices of pizza, read the New York Post and be happy. If I'm going to go high end, I'll go to Orso. I used to go to Orso in New York. It's a New York restaurant transplanted here. And you can't get a bad meal at Spago. Everything there is brilliant.


The weekend also is about catching up on gardening. Roses are like wives, they take some attention. I'll do a little fertilizing, pruning, planting -- it's Zen time for me. When I'm working in the dirt, I don't think about anything. I have music piped outside and I listen to it while I'm gardening. I put on the classical music station and there I go. It's great. Thinking about it now ... I wish I was there. Instead I'm doing some work in the Oval Office today.

Catching up

I'm a little spoiled. I'm a member of the Academy and they send me tapes so I'll often cram two or three movies into one night and catch up on what I've missed. I'm always playing catch-up. Of course, I watch them all. You have to watch them all or you can't vote. I'm Catholic, what can I tell you? [Laughs.] Sometimes I go to church on the weekends. I find Mass very comforting; it can be very inspiring. When I go, I'll go to St. Monica's in Santa Monica because it's the first church I went to out here.


I love going to the Armstrong Garden Center on Magnolia. It's a little addictive. Sometimes I buy three times the stuff I need. Everything looks so delicious when I see it. I buy too much stuff and then I don't have room to plant everything when I get home. One of my little extravagances is to go to Tower Records or Virgin and buy CDs. I do-si-do them. I do more browsing than buying. Sometimes I'll buy eight, nine, 10 CDs ... it's not like I'm buying cars or diamonds.

-- Lisa Boone

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