A/N OK, I'm back from California, and I caught some sort of cold (fever, chest congestion, achy, etc) so I took an extra day to get this up. I may have to take a week off publishing in the weeks ahead. Between life, trip prep, and the trip, I haven't written in two weeks, and I'm eating into my written buffer. But, we'll see how it goes the next few weeks. If I can stay ahead of where I'm at now, I'll keep publishing every week. On another note, those who have read this and "Chew Toy" will recognize Martson's, a place where Penny and Leonard like to to to have brunch. Well, it's a real place, and on my trip to see a taping last week, I had brunch there. Kinda cool to actual eat at a place I've used in my stories.

Chapter 30

Studio 44, 9:30 AM Wednesday September 11th 2012

Penny was in her dressing room, looking over her script. She had spent several hours last night going over it, after getting back from California, but wanted to take a quick look again before the table read. She tried to take a drink from her travel mug, but it was empty, so she thought she would head on down and grab another cup, before the table read started.

Penny was at the craft services table with her coffee, when Kelli came up behind her. "Penelope," Kelli said, as Penny continued looking over the fruit. "Penelope, said Kelli again. There was still no answer, but Penny turned and was able to stop before bumping into Kelli. "Oops," said Penny, "sorry Kelli."

"Didn't you hear me calling you?" Said Kelli.

"No, did you?"

"I called Penelope twice and…Oh yeah, you didn't hear me because I was calling Penelope, not Penny."

Penny looked sheepish, "Yeah, that could be it. I still sometimes don't answer to that."

"Well, you better start."

"Why?"

"A couple of reporters for two trade papers are coming in today," said Kelly. "They will be here around noon, to do interviews with you."

"What, why?" said Penny sounding shocked.

"They got their screeners," Kelli explained. "After viewing the first three episodes, they want to talk to you."

"I was going to ask you about that," said Penny. "I heard the term screener when I went in to do the promos at Warner Brothers. Someone said they had been sent out and there were some floating around out there. One person even said they had seen them and they thought I was funny. I hadn't even heard about it, hell, I didn't even know what they were, until I asked. Why didn't I get one?

"Penny," said Kelli, "they really aren't for the actors. When a critic writes a column about television, for a paper, magazine, or website, they will review various shows. They can't just watch the show when it's on and write the review in time to have it up within a half hour or so online, or have it ready for the paper's printing company that night. It takes time to write the review or article, then edit it, then do the final copy. So what the industry does, is to send out DVDs or Blue Ray copies of shows."

"In our case, we sent out the first three episodes. This gives the reporters some time to write their articles, not just on the first episode, but on several so they can get an idea of where we may go with it. You remember the changes we made after the pilot? So, when the first show is on next week, the reviewers can write a review, not just on the show, but on the series, and have it ready for online that night, or in a paper the next day."

"I will tell you," said Kelli, "that there is a lot of interest in your character, and you as an actor. Not just those two people coming in today, but we've gotten quite a few requests. That person in LA was right. You aren't just funny to us, the people whose job it is to write about television are finding you funny. There is a buzz about you, it's still low key, but it's there. And it's not just the press, there are some in the industry that are paying attention to you right now. That's why those reporters are going to be here today."

Penny blushed and said, "I don't get it, I'm not the star, Jeanie is, shouldn't they be talking to her?"

"They have been," said Kelli, "up until now. She was the most well known, although with that Marvel contract, Dave was catching up fast, but both of them have been doing interviews, talking about the show, and the press has been ignoring you and Brent. Now, however, critics have gotten a peek at you, and they want to know more, so we have arranged for you to talk to them around 12:30, to give you a chance to grab something to eat."

Penny was completely flabbergasted, "Well…uh…I…what…"

"What's wrong Penny?"

"I'm not used to this," said Penny still a bit shocked. "I'm someone that is just coming along, I don't understand the interest and with all the mistakes I've been making, I'm not sure it's right for me to do the interviews."

"You don't want to do the interview?"

"Oh," said Penny, "if you really need and want me to do that, I will. I owe you and Jim a lot."

"Penny, relax," said Kelli. "Remember when I told you Jim saw something in you? Well, I can see it now also. You literally jump off the screen with the way you do your lines and your expressions. Interviews like this can help your career. We can talk after the table read, and I'll try to answer any questions you have, if you wish."

"OK, see you then," said Penny sounding relieved. She turned back to the table, again looking over the fruit.

Caltech Cafeteria, 8:30 AM Wednesday September 11th 2012

Leonard and Sheldon were having breakfast, at the university. They had to attend a department meeting at 9 AM and they had both come in early to prepare for it. As with everyone in the department, the four students Leonard was working with, had been given the day off, so there weren't any experiments running this morning.

They were talking about Penny, about Amy, and about how Howard would be home in a week, when Alex walked up, handed some papers to Sheldon and started to leave. Leonard spoke up, "Would you care to join us, Alex?"

"Leonard," said Sheldon, "is it proper for a lesser employee to join us?"

"What?"

"She is my employee," said Sheldon, "we shouldn't be interacting outside of our job."

"Oh, sure," said Leonard. "but, if I ask her to join us as a regular social interaction, then you aren't involved."

Sheldon considered that for a few seconds, then said, "All right."

"Please sit down, Alex," said Leonard.

For the next half hour, Leonard and Alex talked about her work, Leonard's work, and, of course Sheldon's work. Alex was asking where Leonard got his PhD and for what, how old he was, how long he lived with Sheldon. He was giving what he thought were funny answers, and she was laughing at his replies. Finally she asked if he was dating.

At that Leonard chuckled, "Yeah, you startled me when you introduced yourself. My girlfriend is an actress and she had to change her name when she got her job. Her name is now Penelope Jensen."

Alex laughed at that and said, "So she doesn't work here at Caltech?"

"No," said Leonard. "She's not even here right now, she's in New York, shooting her TV series."

Alex looked thoughtful and said softly, "In New York, huh? So you don't get to see her much, do you?"

"Yeah, every two weeks," said Leonard. As a matter of fact, she just left yesterday, so she won't be back for a couple of weeks."

"Good, good," said Alex.

"Good?"

"Oh, yes," said Alex, looking embarrassed, "I meant it's good you get to see each other."

"Oh, yes it is."

Sheldon stood up, "We have to go, the meeting is in five minutes."

At that, Leonard and Alex stood and followed Sheldon.

Studio 44, 11:30 AM Wednesday September 11th 2012

The table read had just concluded, with Kelli walking right up to Penny. "Did you think about it?"

"There wasn't much to think about," said Penny. "I owe you guys and if it helps the show, I'll do it, but I'm nervous I might say something wrong."

"Don't worry about that," said Kelli, "they are here to do a report on the show. They will be kind, it won't be any of the tabloid crap."

Penny took a deep breath and nodded.

Jeanie walked up, and said, "You ready to go?"

Kelli said, "She's got two interviews to d."

"Oh, those were today?"

"Yeah," said Kelli, "Jim and I set them up when there were questions about Penny. Talk to her Jeanie, I've got to run, see you around one Penny."

"So you have interviews, huh?" Said Jeanie sitting in a chair next to Penny.

"Kelli told me there are a couple of reporters that want to interview me, they've seen the screeners, and I guess I've done well."

"You have," said Jeanie.

"Huh, what do you mean," said Penny.

"I've seen the screeners, Penny," said Jeanie.

"What the hell?" said Penny. "Has everyone but me seen them?"

"I think so," said Jeanie, "I didn't want to say anything before Kelli did. I know a couple of people who write for major magazines, and they called me to ask about you. You've created a lot of buzz."

"For what?"

"Your performance," said Jeanie. "Those first few shows are a perfect showcase for your abilities. There are a lot of writers and reporters out there who want to interview Penelope Jensen."

"What the hell is wrong with them?" said Penny sounding puzzled. "I don't deserve that. You, of all people, know how many problems I've had. Not to mention something like that flat out scares me," she started speaking faster and higher, "what if they find out about all the mistakes I'm making, they'll think I'm a big fraud, what happens, then…"

"Penny, calm down," said Jeanie, putting her hand on Penny's arm. "Think of it as a game. They ask you questions, you carefully consider their question and you give a short answer. Besides, I know both of them, and these two will be throwing you softball questions. You won't have to worry."

"I don't get it," said Penny. "Wait, you sounded like you knew about the interviews today. How did you know about it?"

"I told you, I got several calls," said Jeanie. "Several of them last week, when the screeners were released. Got a couple more from the people who Jim and Kelli approved to talk to you. You go do the interviews, and when you get home, come up to my apartment."

Penny was still confused, "Ok, I guess, but…"

"No buts, go get ready for the interviews and enjoy yourself," said Jeanie rising. "I'll see you at the apartment, and we'll talk then." She smiled then turned and walked off.

Apartment 601 3:30 PM Wednesday September 11th 2012

There was a knock on Jeanie's door, she got up from her table and peaked though the peep hole and opened the door. Penny was waiting there, looking upset.

"Come in, come in," said Jeanie, "what's wrong?"

"It's a combination of things," said Penny.

"Well tell me," said Jeanie. "I'll get us some wine while you start. Did the interviews go badly?"

"No, they went well enough," said Penny sitting on Jeanie's couch. "They asked where I was born, where I went to school, if I was seeing anyone, the usual. They asked me what I had done and they seemed surprised that I've done so little. They did tell me how funny I was, but I'm not sure exactly how I did. They also said something about how I was probably going to be the breakout star. How does one become a breakout star?"

Jeanie handed Penny a glass of wine, went to the other end of the couch and sat down, and said, "It means that you will probably get the most attention, be the most well known from the show."

"No," said Penny, "I didn't say what happens when you become the breakout star, I ask how that happens. You're the star, you and Dave. I'm just starting out, how can I be the star."

"Penny," said Jeanie, "they said the breakout star. That is something different from being the star of the show. It usually happens when the writers come up with a memorable character and an unknown or relatively unknown actor and is just perfect for the role. People remember that character and the actor for that character usually becomes a big star."

"But, you know how much of a mess I am," said Penny, "I don't deserve to be a big star."

Jeanie laughed, "Penny, no one deserves to be a big star, it happens. Fans like a certain character for different reasons, the character becomes popular, and the actor reaps the benefits."

"But you're the star, I don't want to be more popular than you. You're the one they expect to pull in an audience, not me. You should be getting the credit."

Jeanie laughed again, "Oh, Penny, you are going to have to learn some of the history of television. It happened a little bit to me, on Sex and the City. I was such a mean and bitchy boss, that the character became memorable, and there was a lot written about my character. I was fortunate that the women on the show were quite able to deal with it."

"As for TV history, in multi cams have you heard of Happy Days or in single cams, The Andy Griffith Show?"

"I think I heard of Happy Days, about the fifties in Chicago?"

"No, Milwaukee," said Jeanie, "and, Andy Griffith was set in a small town named Mayberry. He was the widowed sheriff, with a small son."

"Oh yeah," said Penny, "my mom used to watch that in repeats."

"Ok, that helps," said Jeanie. "The Andy Griffith Show was named that because Andy Griffith was the lead actor. He had been on Broadway, he had done some comedy records, he had done films, he was really well known. His deputy was played by a guy named Don Knotts. Knotts wasn't well known, he hadn't done all that much."

"Well, it happened that his character, Barney Fife, became a huge fan favorite, the critics loved him, and Knotts won five or six Emmy's for his portrayal. Was Griffith angry about that? No, he knew it would help the show, to have people tuning in to see that character, so he added him into more scenes, until Knotts left the show for films."

"It happened on Happy Days also. Ron Howard…"

"The big time director?"

Jeanie smiled, "Yes the big time director. He started as an actor, actually back on Andy Griffith, he played his son. Anyway, he was supposed to be the star of Happy Days, and Henry Winkler was supposed to be a minor character, playing a tough guy, biker dude. But, the character became hugely popular, and his role got expanded. Howard welcomed the attention to Winkler, and he and Winkler have been friends since."

"But there are some cases where it didn't work out, right?"

"Oh sure," said Jeanie, "for instance, on The Dick Van Dyke show, Rose Marie was supposed to be the main female character. But, Mary Tyler Moore became the breakout star and they started featuring her more. Their relationship was a bit strained, but Marie was a consummate pro, knew it would help the show, so she didn't let it show, she remained on friendly terms, with Moore, but not close friends."

"A more famous and angry example would be from the show Cybil," said Jeanie. "Cybil Shepard was the star of the show. Christine Baranski was the costar, and their characters relationship was similar to our characters. Baranski's character was sarcastic, like you, and hard drinking, unlike you, and Baranski won an Emmy for her portrayal."

"Shepard complained, in public, that the writers were writing all the good stuff for Baranski, and not for her. She took her complaints to the network and got the creator, who was also the executive producer fired. Her and Baranski never got along."

Penny looked sad, "See, that is what I'm worried about. I don't want us to get mad at each other. You've been so supportive of me, you're becoming a really good friend, and I don't want anything to come between us."

Jeanie patted Penny on the hand, "You don't have to worry about it. I'm more Andy Griffith or Ron Howard than Cybil. People tuning in to see you, increases the ratings of the show. Which means we'll be on longer, so I have a job longer. I don't have any kind of ego about this, I just want to work. And, if I'm working with you, that is a bonus."

Penny was smiling but had tears in her eyes. "Thank you so much," said Penny. "I just don't know what to say, and wonder if I even deserve this."

"You do," said Jeanie, "these types of interviews, and the interest in you are really great things for your career, just remember me when you become a big star, and I need a job." She laughed.

"Really, just promise me something, if you, as I expect, do become a star, please remember me when you work with a new actor. Bring them along, if they are struggling, help them. If they have questions, answer them if you can, or if you can't answer, find someone that can. And, above all, act professional around them at all times, on set, OK?"

Penny nodded her head, "OK." Penny leaned over and gave Jeanie a hug, "Thank you."