A '70s Show Star's 'Wedding'
05/11/2004 AT 01:05 AM EDT
Before you go thinking all stars are spoiled and self-involved ... even as a struggling actress in New York in the 1970s and '80s, Everybody Loves Raymond star Patricia Heaton found time to mentor 16-year-old Carmen Vargas through the Catholic Big Sisters program – and the two remain close to this day.
Heaton had asked to be matched with someone who had lost her mother. "My mother died when I was 12, and I know what it feels like," Heaton told us at a recent Big Sisters fund-raiser, where she received the organization's Humanitarian Award. "That it feels like you have no one to guide you. I thought I could be a friend to somebody." Vargas's mother had died of pneumonia when Carmen was 8.
Heaton recalls her time as a Big Sister lovingly, even though she entertained Vargas on a shoestring. "I didn't have any money, I wasn't the greatest role model," said Heaton, who saw Vargas about twice a month. "I would help her with her homework, she would help me with my auditions. I think for her birthday I got standing-room tickets for Sarafina for 10 bucks and we stood in the back for two hours and watched the show together.
"And then I got (cast in) Raymond," Heaton recalled. While the show's star, Ray Romano, moved to Los Angeles to begin shooting, his wife stayed behind in Queens until the show was a definite go. When Romano's wife needed a nanny, Heaton suggested Vargas, and she's been a member of the family ever since (Heaton is now 46; Vargas is 31). After following the Romanos out to L.A., Vargas joined Raymond as a production assistant and stand-in.
Jamie Kennedy, who recently finished filming The Mask 2, plans to spend Memorial Day at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. "I go to the pool, and I go bowling," he tells us. "I know it's weird, but I love to bowl. They don't have lanes there, but there's a public bowling alley down the street." ... Former Bachelor fianceé Jennifer Schefft still won't spill the beans about her maybe-relationship with Apprentice Bill Rancic. Schefft, who is working as a spokesmodel for Evian water in Chicago, would only say: "To keep you up to date, I've moved on from my relationship with Andrew (Firestone), as has he, so as of my dating life right now, I'm definitely open to new possibilities." Hmmm ... Ashley Scott (who will costar with Matt LeBlanc on the Friends spin-off, Joey) plans to marry producer beau Anthony Rulin in the fall. "He's been my best friend for years," Scott tells us. The couple are planning a "really cool enchanted forest theme" for their wedding, which will most likely take place in Mexico.
By JERYL BRUNNER, DIANE HERBST and SEAN DALY