Baltimore School for the Arts sophomore on 'The Good Wife'

Rachel Hilson, a 15-year-old sophomore at the Baltimore School for the Arts, has landed a recurring role on "The Good Wife," the CBS hit drama now in its second season.

She debuts Tuesday as Nisa, a study partner and love interest for Zach Florrick (played by Graham Phillips), the teenage son of Alicia Florrick (played by Julianna Margulies).

Hilson has already shot three episodes and just got word this week that she'll be shooting a fourth. Quite a big break for a young actress whose other credits are more along the lines of lower-school plays at McDonogh.

Hilson did have a gig as a backup dancer in a pink wig on the Nick Jr. show "LazyTown," which took her to Iceland for 10 days of filming in 2008. But this is prime-time TV. Even Hilson, who auditioned for the part in New York, sounds like she can't quite believe it.

"When I first met Julianna Margulies — it's so strange because she's so accomplished," Hilson said. "Just to be acting with her is crazy."

(Hilson is not the only person on the set with a connection to the School for the Arts. Josh Charles, 39, who plays the part of Will Gardner, also attended the school.)

Most of the episodes have been shot over the course of a day or two in New York, which has helped Hilson keep up with her school work. She takes the train up with her mother, Anita Hilson, the admissions director at McDonogh, and they stay in a hotel.

For the very first shooting, when wardrobe and other details had to be worked out, they had to stay in New York for a week. After her first day of shooting, the actress had a nap and then typed up a paper for her English class on her mom's laptop.

She returned home from one New York trip and went straight to a baby-sitting job in her Southwest Baltimore neighborhood, said her father, Bob Hilson, a former Baltimore Sun reporter.

"The next day," Anita Hilson noted, "she was cleaning her room and doing laundry."

Whipping (poster) boy

John Coale, the Democratic fundraiser who gave Martin O'Malley a $500,000 loan in the last days of the governor's race four years ago, feels like the poster boy for campaign finance reform these days.

A Baltimore Sun news article and editorial recently brought up his loan an example of an end-run around state law, which was intended to limit an individual's contributions to any single candidate to $4,000 per four-year election cycle. The law also caps a donor's total contributions to $10,000 over four years.

Coale called me to say that the real problem is with developers who do business with the state and get around the law by giving under separate business entities.

"If you're a developer, you have an LLC for the cement, for the steel," he said. "Developers who have an interest in getting some influence are in good shape. … The do-gooders get into this all the time, and there's always a way around campaign finance [limits]. The only thing I can see is, you have it transparent."

He suggests a website that not only lists political donations but also discloses whether the donor has any business with the state. Coale, a retired class-action lawyer who is married to Fox News personality Greta Van Susteren, said he has no business with the state of Maryland.

"Fox got a lot out of that liberal Democrat Martin O'Malley," he grumbled.

O'Malley did appoint Coale to the University of Maryland Medical System board, but Coale said that's hardly a reward. The gig requires him to attend board meetings in Baltimore at 7:30 a.m.

"I've got to get up at 5," said Coale, who travels from Washington or the Eastern Shore. "My God. Whoopee. If you think that's a plum, you're hurting. They do give you a little thing for the parking lot. I can never figure out how it works anyway, so I have gotten zero."

More caffeine? Less?

State Comptroller Peter Franchot wants caffeine out of alcoholic drinks.

But he might want to get some of it into his proofreaders.

A news release issued Wednesday after the state liquor industry had heeded Franchot's call for a voluntary statewide ban on caffeinated booze bore this subheadline: "Comptroller Urged Ban at Board of Pubic Works Meeting."

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