Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A little OT 'JAG' news

Local Actress Has a New Role as Realtor
March 12, 2008
Michael Aushenker , Staff Writer
Staff Writer

You might say that these days, actress Cindy Ambuehl is 'keepin' it real''as in 'real estate.'
Ambuehl, who starred as Renee Peterson on the long-running CBS primetime series 'JAG,' has turned her real estate hobby into a full-time profession by joining Coldwell Banker's Pacific Palisades office on Sunset.

'I've been dabbling in real estate for 20 years,' says Ambuehl, and it has now become her true passion. 'It's really conducive to family life''a perfect transition for me. If I could survive acting, I can survive real estate.'

By family, Ambuehl means the household she shares in Santa Monica Canyon with her fianc' and fellow actor, Don Diamont; their twin boys, Anton and Davis, 5; and Diamont's children from a previous relationship, Lauren, 18, Sasha, 16, Alexander, 13, and Luca, 7.

If Diamont's name sounds familiar, it's mainly because he's been a daytime television staple for 22 years, appearing as Brad Carlton on the venerable soap opera 'The Young and the Restless.'
There was a time for Ambuehl when 'location, location, location' meant hopping from set to set to earn her paycheck. A working actress, she spent the 1990s playing in episodes of hit shows such as 'Cybill,' 'Frasier,' 'Charmed,' 'Silk Stalkings,' 'Diagnosis Murder,' 'Malcolm in the Middle,' 'Caroline in the City' and 'The Love Boat: The Next Wave.' Ambuehl played Jerry Seinfeld's love interest on an episode of 'Seinfeld' called 'The Burning' ' the one in which Jerry is stunned to learn that his new girlfriend has a mysterious "tractor story" that she is concealing from him.
Ambuehl also worked in movies, playing opposite Rodney Dangerfield in one of the comedian's last features, 1997's 'Meet Wally Sparks.' But as an actress, she is probably best known for her work on 'JAG.'

Originally debuting in 1995 on NBC, the military-themed criminal justice drama, starring David James Elliott and Catherine Bell, became a primetime hit when it was rescued from cancellation by CBS. It ran for a solid decade before its 2005 cancellation. Ambuehl's recurring role''the quirky, outspoken love interest and comic foil who kept Elliott's character on his toes'' appeared on the show from 2000 through 2003.

The 'JAG' stint came right as she worked on Fox Television's critically acclaimed (but quickly canned) Hollywood satire, 'Action,' starring Jay Mohr.

'I was only supposed to do 'JAG' for three weeks,' Ambuehl says, 'but when 'Action' got canceled, I did it for four years.'

Another career highlight for the 43-year-old actress: playing on the short-lived 'Head over Heels' with one of her best friends, Eva La Rue, who now stars on another CBS juggernaut, 'CSI: Miami.'
Ambuehl credits all of the comedy work she's done as indirect training her for her current profession.

'We try to lighten up the burden for our buyers and sellers,' says Ambuehl, who adds that an actress's perseverance also comes in handy. 'I remember testing three times with Mel Gibson for a role on 'What Women Want.' You go through these experiences, you walk into a room and you perform in front of people. You learn to work the room.'

Today, Ambuehl is most proud of her real estate work with partner Lauri McNevin and Coldwell's Palisades office manager, Robert Sedway.

Ambuehl credits Sedway as 'a phenomenal leader. He really supported me in my transition from actress to real estate agent.' Of McNevin, a Palisades resident who has worked in real estate for 11 years, Ambuehl says, 'We make a good team. When we work with people, in this very, very scary market, I love the fact that Lauri has the educational background as well as the common sense. Lauri and I show every property ourselves, we take every phone call ourselves, we show up to the party. We're very hands on.'

As working moms, the women feel they have an edge in finding homes to accommodate families. Family is important to both Ambuehl and McNevin (a mother of two), and they are empathetic regarding their nesting clients. In fact, Ambuehl points out that they fill in for each other with babysitting chores so that 'we actually work seven days a week.'

If there is a reason that Ambuehl shifted from acting to real estate, it can be summed up by one word: family. Acting 'was not conducive to having children. It was really important to me [to be a full-time mom].'

Ambuehl has always put her personal life over career.

'I left 'JAG' when I was eight months pregnant. Now that the writers strike is over, I can still dabble in that which I love, but I am also going to work in real estate, which is my total focus.'

So why does she prefer the buy and sell over acting these days?

'I'm loving the feeling that I'm helping people,' Ambuehl says. 'I feel that Lauri and I come from such a place of honesty and hard work, we're giving them a peace of mind. And that's a good feeling. I'm taking care of people.'

Although Ambuehl didn't receive her real estate license until 2007, her interest in property transactions has always coincided with her original vocation.

'I've been buying and selling homes all of my career as a hobby in Orange County,' says Ambuehl, who was born and raised in Yorba Linda, where her parents still live.

McNevin is a seasoned pro, having left a five-member team in her native Austin, Texas, to come work in California two years ago. She and Ambuehl met through their sons.

Ambuehl and her fianc' Diamont socialize with another Palisadian on 'Young and the Restless'''Eric Braeden, who enjoys the Palisades life with his wife, Dale. Ambuehl laughs as she tells the Post that Braeden loves to joke with Diamont that the name of their soap should be re-titled 'The Young and the Rest of Us.'

So what exactly brought Ambuehl and Diamont to town?

'I always wanted to be near the beach,' Ambuehl says. 'So we really looked hard in the Palisades and Santa Monica because combined we have six boys and we needed a big place to accommodate everyone.'

They found their dream house serendipitously, just driving around and looking at open houses. Ambuehl directed renovations of their Spanish Mediterranean estate and did all the interior design.

What Ambuehl really loves and appreciates about the Palisades is that it reminds her of her Orange County roots: 'The Palisades, too, has that small-town feel. It feels very much like home.'
'I love that it's a small town, after coming from Austin,' McNevin chimes in. 'It's such a smaller city than Los Angeles, and such a wonderful relief. It feels so good to come here and have my own space.'

Together, Ambuehl and McNevin have negotiated home sales primarily on the Westside, having closed deals in the Palisades, Brentwood, Santa Monica and Malibu.
When she's not turning around properties, Ambuehl spends her down time lunching at Tivoli Cafe or enjoying brunch at Mayberry's. McNevin enjoys those local restaurants, but also lists Il Carpaccio on Palisades Drive as a new fave.

'We just went to Riordan's new place and we loved it,' says Ambuehl regarding The Village Pantry on Swathmore.

Ambuehl feels closely connected to the Palisades. She adds that whenever she and McNevin make a sale, 'a portion of our commission goes to a local school in the community in which we sell a house, on a sale-to-sale basis. So we're giving back to the community.'
Some might question Ambuehl's enthusiasm to dive into her new profession at a time when her industry is experiencing its darkest days in more than a decade. But Ambuehl shrugs off such pessimism.

'The real estate market is taking a hit, but I survived two Screen Actors Guild strikes,' she says sanguinely. 'We'll survive this just fine as well. Last year, we had $15 million in sales and over $20 million in listings. I'm not intimidated at all by it.'

In addition to her real estate business, Ambuehl is a fashion designer. Her clothing line first hit QVC in 2005, and she will debut her new line on The Shopping Channel in Canada on March 14. Her line--hip, funky and contemporary--consists of blouses, pants, dresses and skirts and pants.
She and Diamont have also completed hosting a DVD titled 'Tips for New Parents,' joining with Eileen David and Hunter Tylo from 'The Bold and the Beautiful.'

Still, Ambuehl is a fulltime realtor these days, though she still gets a kick out of the effect her previous life can have on the locals. Sometimes, people will double-take when they enter Coldwell Banker's office and find that familiar face working the phones.

'It's really funny,' Ambuehl says, giggling. 'When I first came aboard, I got a lot of people who felt that they already knew me. 'Were you on so and so?''

Which begs the question: Are these customers happy to have TV's Renee Peterson handling their real estate dealings?
It depends on whether they like the character I played!' she says with a hearty laugh.

Cindy Ambuehl and Lauri McNevin have a Web site: For more about Ambuehl's clothing line, go to

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