Story by Jake Sasseville

Photos by Christina LeBlanc

Edward Little High School

“Come over here, Jake,” said Danielle, the co-executive producer’s assistant. We were whisked away from our parking spot in the garage to soundstage 17 in Studio City, California. To the right, THAT 70s SHOW soundstage, and to the left, the cast of “Passions.” It was 10:10 a.m. We were 10 minutes late. In the entertainment world, even one minute is an eternity. In another moment, there we were – in the WILL AND GRACE soundstage. As I was blabbering on I didn’t have a chance to notice that all of a sudden, we were in the middle of Will and Grace’s living room. Our Los Angeles adventure had just begun…

Indeed, I believe “THE EDGE with JAKE SASSEVILLE” experienced its finest moments the week of March 21. I did, too. Beginning on local access in Lewiston/Auburn at Great Falls TV three years ago, the show -created, hosted and executive produced by me – traveled to Los Angeles with the help of many people on a near zero-dollar budget to tape on the set of one of TVs highest rated sitcoms – “Will & Grace.”

It was made possible by the kindness and dedication of the co-executive producer of the show, Adam Barr, a native of Lewiston who graduated from Lewiston High School. A month or so after sending Adam a letter, I recieved a call back at my home. I was stunned. The conversation barely mentioned WILL AND GRACE, but rather Adam was interested to see how I was progressing with the show.

He showed interest, gave suggestions and pointers and provided a seed for the beginning of a friendship. It was only our second conversation where I mustered up the courage to ask, “What would you say if I asked you that if my show was ever to visit Los Angeles, if we could maybe stop by the set for a taping?.” After a long pause (and much sweat dripping off my nose), Adam responded, “That’s do-able.”

The ball began rolling – and didn’t stop. Of course, my local access show had no plans to go to Los Angeles. The show had been funded solely by me and donations. It had survived three years on local access attracting guests from South Africa, the hit CBS show SURVIVOR and even Marilyn Monroe’s first husband, Jim Dougherty. I paid for the set design, for the wood, for the production – I did the editing, the pre-producing and the hosting. The show has been held together with the dedication of dozens of teenagers and one very leniant and kind station director, Adolph Holmes of GFTV.

Now that I had the opportunity to go to Los Angeles, how could I give it up? I couldn’t. I obsessed. I fielded ideas with my crew – how we could raise the money? Could we get the money donated? How could this possible work? We thought about calling airline executives, hotel executives, ANY EXECUTIVE who could help us. However, the answer rested with a hit music radio station out of Portland, Maine: WJBQ Q 97.9.

I had been a guest on the Q morning show with Meredith, Jeff and Lori in June 2003. I remained in contact with DJ Lori Voornas since then, exchanging emails on a monthly and weekly basis. I approached the Q and pitched this idea: You pay for my flight and hotel to Los Angeles, and I’ll get you two VIP tickets to give away to two lucky Q listeners to meet the cast. The station manager hesistated and even said that it wouldn’t be possible. To me, failure in this seemingly perfect endeavor could not be an option. I kept him on the phone – he was kind enough to continue to talk to me – and eventually I convinced the Q to pay for the trip. It was a miracle.

The winners were chosen, the plane tickets were bought and the hotel reservation were put in place. The show was going to Los Angeles – virtually having it all donated. How thrilling!

We arrived on a Southwest Airlines flight in Los Angeles at noon. We found out our rental car that we’d drive to Burbank was a convertible – Los Angeles in a convertible – you had to be kidding me. They weren’t! My friend Christina LeBlanc (who currently attends St. Anselm’s in New Hampshire but graduated last year from Edward Little) and I hopped in the car and rode through LA thanks to the WJBQ winners, Melissa and Dot.

After unpacking and getting settled, we headed to the hotel bar – not to drink, of course, Mom – but rather to get a soda (I broke the low carb diet for the LA trip – such a shame). We met a bartender, Paul, who was a 24-year-old struggling actor in LA. Christina was crushing on him; I was interested to hear his story. It was perfect! We asked him how to get to the HOLLYWOOD sign. After he tried to jot down directions, he decided it was too difficilt.

“Would you guys just like me to take you down after work? It wouldn’t be a problem,” Paul offered. Christiina and I looked at each other and agreed without hesitation. It was 11:30 p.m. We were due on the set of WILL AND GRACE the next morning at 9 a.m., but this was LA – was sleep really needed? Of course not!

We cruised in Paul’s nostalgic 1988 BMW convertible to the Hollywood sign. The fun didn’t stop there – we ended up riding around Los Angeles for two hours into the morning – after we had traveled that entire day! What a treat! Sunset Boulevard, Santa Monica, The Osbourne house, the Hollywood hills, downtown Hollywood and Los Angeles and Malibu were just a few of our stops during our midnight drive. One word to describe this (actually, two): Purely awesome!

The crew and I headed to the set of WILL AND GRACE the next morning. It wasn’t really a crew but rather an entourage. I didn’t realize how many hands and minds it would take to put together this episode(s). I didn’t know what I was doing on set that day – whether we were taping, or interviewing or what. I was soon briefed that I’d be interviewing Sean Hayes (Jack) for a short period of time. Because Deborah Messing (Grace) had been written off the show because of her up-coming baby delivery, the other actors were on overtime trying to make the show work without Messing.

I walked into the “Will and Grace” living room, sat down, the cameras rolled and I smiled. My energy was infectious but calmly handled. I thought to myself, in a final reflection: It took months to get me here – I’m actually here – what a gift! Sean came out and sat down. It was an instant connection and the 10 minutes were jam-packed with an awesome interview, funny responses and plenty of surprises. He rated my “JUST JACK” interpreting of him on the show as “superb.” I loved the Hollywood scene. I was addicted.

The following day, we were on set from early in the morning, interviewing Adam from Lewiston and then chatted with audience members waiting for admittance to the studio for a taping. By the time the afternoon came around, Eric McCormack (Will) and Meaghan Mullaley (Karen) were ready for their interviews. I was very calm. My dream was coming true before my very own eyes. I couldn’t believe it! We chatted with Eric in Will and Grace’s kitchen on set, and Meaghan welcomed us in to her dressing room as she was having final preparations done to her hair and makeup. I’m still thinking to myself – INCREDIBLE!

That night, they taped one of the last episodes of the season. During the taping, they had the most luxurious buffet in the back of the studio that the crew and cast can lounge in during tapings. Clearly, I went completely carb crazy -how could we miss the opportunity to munch on gourmet desserts and roast beef behind the Will and Grace set?

The taping ended around 9:15 p.m. We ended up hanging out with Shelly Morrison who plays Rosario, Karen’s maid, in her dressing room afterwards. It was the longest interview of the day – heartfelt and sincere; two words I hadn’t thought were in the “Hollywood dictionary.”

The trip modified my perspective on life and Hollywood. It confirmed my desire to be a part of such an energetic, fast paced and intriguing industry. Frankly, there is a negative side to Hollywood, but there isn’t a job field in the world that doesn’t have its drawbacks. It’s all in proportion, I’ve figured, and the drawbacks in Hollywood and this “biz” just happen to be a little more public. I’ve learned that no dream is out of reach. It is possible to achieve your wildest desires – I’m living proof of what hard-work, dedication, perseverance and a LOT of luck can get you. I continue to be so fortunate to have people around me willing to work with me and for the show to make it spectacular. I’m grateful for the support and the guidance.

With the final curtain call, that day was over. The interviews with the cast were finished, and I’d been afforded to the opportunity to get footage that many of the country’s most respected news outlets could only hope for. True, that day was over – but that day was the beginning of something spectacular in my life. Something I don’t even quite yet understand. Truly, a gift……

Author’s Note: To find out more information about THE EDGE’s Los Angeles adventure and future tapings of THE EDGE, please visit our official website at

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