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USA WEEKEND (Online), November 14, 1997.

 

CELEB UPDATE by Lorrie Lynch

 

I won't surprise you when I say TV viewers don't rely on network shows to entertain them anymore. Ratings, surveys and polls show that in a 500-channel universe non-network fare increasingly attracts a regular audience -- whether it be Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Highlander or Xena: Warrior Princess. "Who's News" readers want information on the actors in these shows, and that's why Rene O'Connor is on this weekend's "Who's News" page.

Xena, of course, has become a cult in itself. And its viewers know O'Connor, a 26-year-old Texan, is the Warrior Princess's loyal, spunky pal. The way O'Connor sees it, "It's a nice break from the traditional role models on television when actresses have to play (characters) ... who are always dependent on a man. ... It's encouraging for young and old women alike."

Because of its comic-book quality, O'Connor says, Xena producers thought it would attract a family audience, and it has. But with breastplate costumes, mythology, kung fu fights and tough women, the show's appeal is much broader. Fans, who call themselves Xenites,  range from young girls and middle-aged moms to lots of men. The show has also attracted a following among gay women. Lesbian bars host Xena nights. Some Xenites speculate the pair are more than just buddies. "We're just friends," says O'Connor. "But when we started to realize there was an audience out there looking for Gabrielle and Xena to be more than just friends, we played up to it a bit. ... At times the writing could go either way."

In real life, she and Lawless are close friends.  "We are with each other 12 hours out of the day. We gossip all week." So what's up for this season? O'Connor is purposely veiled, but tells us Gabrielle and Xena's friendship is "tested in a way that you will wonder if they will ever be able to be close and true to each other as they were before."

If you haven't delved into the online-dom of Gabrielle and Renee O'Connor -- ROC for short -- start with these sites:

http://www.scherer.net/renee/
The ROC Collective page. Renee O'Connor updates and Xena news. Home of the Most GABulous Page Award, which notes the best Gabrielle Web pages.

http://rampages.onramp.net/~rocweb/
Information from the official fan club run by none other than O'Connor's mom, Sandra Wilson (aka MommaROC).

-- LORRIE LYNCH

            The USA WEEKEND CELEBS site is located at http://www.usaweekend.com/celebs/index.html

  

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