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A few words with ... Casey Wilson, Rachael Ray and Todd Hoffman

Casey Wilson of "Happy Endings" on ABC

Q: Since you have written and acted in films, been onstage and are now in a TV show, which is your preference?

A: I would say stage. It's just the most fun even though it's so compartmentalized, so start-and-stoppy. You have to manage your energy levels, and whatever happens there is what happens and can never be re-created.

Q: Who blows you away as an actor?

A: Debra Winger blows me away, always. She has such a small part in "Rachel Getting Married," and "Terms of Endearment" is one of my favorite movies. I love the relationship between Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger.

Q: What is it like on the set of "Happy Endings"?

A: It's so fun, just a joy. There is no better job I have ever had. The creators are unbelievably generous and open and collaborative and have a great vision. It is a comedy, and they let you play and find stuff and have fun. And we all get along, and we are at a point with the cast -- you can't as a rule direct another actor -- and everybody has become comfortable with each other and wants the show to do well, and they will say, "Hey what if you tried that?" Or "That was funnier that way." Just in the spirit of serving the show.

Q: What was your best Halloween costume?

A: This year I went as a shotgun wedding bride, and I also had a black eye. It was not very nice; I was a bride in trouble. Once I made a boyfriend dress up as Woody Allen from "Annie Hall."

Rachael Ray of "Rachael Ray" in syndication

Q: Are you happy with how "Rachael Ray" is going these days?

A: Our demographics are great, our ratings are terrific, and we've been even -- year-to-year, knock on wood -- we're really blessed, and we're hanging in there strong.We have first-timers (guests) coming all the time. Lately, we've had Hugh Jackman, Adam Sandler and Katie Holmes, and we're just doing great. We'll be up to our 1,000th show by late January or early February.

Q: Your new Food Network series "Rachael vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-Off" begins on New Year's Day. How has the experience of taping that been?

A: It is the most exciting television I have ever filmed in my life! It is unbelievably intense, yet it's still great family entertainment. We each have a team, and we coach a squad of celebrities -- and it comes down to one person who takes an enormous pile of cash for the charity of their choice.They all took the cooking so seriously, and we worked them so hard. Guy and I were there 12 to 14 hours a day, and they were there hours after us. I mean, they worked themselves to the bone.

Q: How about the new change in ownership of your magazine, Every Day With Rachael Ray?

A: Meredith, I think, is really the perfect home. In May, we relaunched the magazine, and it's been looking better and better. It looks unlike anything else that's out there.

Todd Hoffman of "Gold Rush" on Discovery Channel

Q: On top of all your other challenges, you dealt with internal conflict in your gold-mining team. What was your strategy?

A: My natural instinct is to avoid trouble. I feel like it gives me brain damage. I'm not confrontational, usually. If I confront you, you've taken me all the way down the river, and now I'm really pissed.When I do have some confrontations, what we try to do is keep a level head and a calm voice. It turns away wrath. … Let me tell you, if I said I was a pro at it, I'd be lying.

Q: Last mining season, you had to deal with a lot of issues around permits and government regulations. Did that continue?

A: Well, I can't talk too much about public agencies and things like that, but if I was to put two words together that would sum this story up without giving things away, it would be "eye-opener." Right?When you have a society that is so top-heavy, where you need to have eight people decide where a lamppost should be, that society is eventually going to eat itself from the inside out.

Q: What do you hope people take away from your efforts to better your life by risking it all on gold mining?

A: It's not so much that everybody's going to run out and go gold mining. It's that you can take that same principle and put it into anything, whether you have a coffee shop or whatever. It's the American spirit.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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