[ P E O P L E ] BY TAMMY LA GORCE
“I like to be a busy person,” says
former soap opera actress Martha Byrne by cell phone from
her car parked outside a Bergen
County gym, pre-workout, on a
freezing December morning.
It’s safe to say that Byrne,
44, is enjoying her current
schedule. This month marks
the premiere of the Mahwah
resident’s new NBC show, Crisis,
a 24-like drama that centers on
students kidnapped from an elite
Washington, D.C., school. Byrne
plays Marie Wirth, the mother of
a victim; Gillian Anderson and
Dermot Mulroney star.
Byrne was among the leads
in Preying for Mercy, a thriller
that saw limited release in January. And thanks to the popularity
of Gotham, the Internet-based
soap opera she wrote, starred in,
produced and directed in 2009,
she’s sifting through offers to
executive produce additional
Add to that a pair of businesses based in Paramus. In
2011, with her childhood friend
Mario Costabile, a musician
who owns the Paramus-based
label the Vine Records, she
launched ShowBiz Bootcamp,
an academy-like program for
aspiring performers ages 10
to 25. The boot camp is an
offshoot of Full Circle Talent
Group, a management com-
pany founded by Byrne and
Costabile in 2010 to represent
actors and musicians.
Then there are the rigors of
family life. Byrne, who grew up
in Waldwick, is married to Mike
McMahon, a private investigator.
They have three kids: Michael,
15; Max, 11; and Ann Marie, 7.
Still, focus isn’t a problem for
the actress. She’s been acting
since age 10, when she played
an orphan in Annie on Broad-
way. She says show business has
been “more like a hobby...than a
career. You just put your atten-
tion wherever it needs to be on
any given day.”
For 20 years, Byrne’s atten-
tion was on the long-running
soap As the World Turns. She
played the character Lily from
1985 to 2009 (also playing Lily’s
twin sister for four years). Now
Crisis, which she filmed in Chicago in September, is absorbing
the bulk of her energy.
“I’m most excited about that
role because it gives me the
opportunity to show a broad
spectrum of emotions. The
whole premise is, what would
you do to save your child?” As a
soap opera actress, she says, “I
got used to kidnappings and all
these horrible things happening.”
Crisis is different. “They don’t
tell you what’s coming story-wise,” she says. “They keep everything secret. You can’t even
take pictures on the set.” ■
Hinchliffe a National Historic Landmark—the only such facili-
ty with a history connected to baseball. A bill submitted by U.S.
Congressman Bill Pascrell to include the facility in Paterson’s
Great Falls National Historic Park is awaiting action in the
House of Representatives and $1 million in grants have been
earmarked to stabilize the stadium and halt its deterioration.
That work is to begin this summer—but there’s still a long
way to go. The tab for the entire rehabilitation of the facility
has been estimated at $15 million. Supporters of the effort are
optimistic the funds can be raised after such recent victories.
Brian LoPinto, president and co-founder of Friends of
Hinchliffe Stadium, says the city of Paterson is seeking an additional $1.3 million for the initial work. He adds that such progress will help the renovation project gain even more steam.
“What a landmark like Hinchliffe does is honor the past and
remember the players and teams that played there,” he says.
“Now we have an opportunity to give it another life because
we hope the latest news will spur more donors for the effort.”
As Hinchliffe began its phoenix-like resurgence, local
awareness of Ellerbee heightened—especially in the city’s
close-knit African-American community—even as he spent his
golden years on Cape Cod. Local journalist and activist Jimmy Richardson says Ellerbee cherished his connections with
Hinchliffe and to Paterson.
“He was a man with a strong interest in sports, a very religious
gentleman, and he had high standards of ethics,” Richardson says
of Ellerbee. “His legacy in local baseball is very important.”
In March 2013, just two months before he died, Ellerbee
took part in a telephone interview for WBGO’s SportsJam with
Doug Doyle. “I had the highest batting average of anyone else,”
he told Doyle as he recounted his playing days. “I’m not brag-
ging on myself, just telling it like it was.”
Ellerbee wrapped up the conversation with a life lesson. “You
have to believe in yourself to be good at anything,” he said. “I don’t
have no regrets. I don’t look back. I keep looking forward. Who-
ever you are, be noble. What-
ever you do, do well. When-
ever you speak, speak kindly.
Give joy wherever you dwell.
That’s what I believe in.” ■
SIGNS OF THE TIMES: Each set of
ticket windows at Hinchliffe is topped
by an Olympic scene set in terra cotta, right. The tiles appear at intervals
around the stadium’s exterior. These
days, the interior of the structure is
covered with graffiti, below.
12 February 2014 NJMONTHLY.COM