Actress Sarah Chalke calls recent NY Times makeover “unnerving,” “unsettling”

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Combination of Metro and News, Business and Sports “sends mixed signals in tough economic times,” says rising Hollywood star.

Appearing at a fundraiser last night for one of her favorite charities, rising Hollywood star Sarah Chalke (“Scrubs,” “How I Met Your Mother,” Hanes) raised more than a few eyebrows in the audience by launching into a attack of near-rant proportions aimed at the New York Times and its recent editorial makeover.

“It truly was a rant, really, and it seemed like a rant from the heart,” said one taken-aback onlooker present for the unusual spectacle. “It was a rant with rather a peculiar, almost-obsessive psycho-economic tinge to it.”

In her remarks, the usually mild-mannered Chalke spoke heatedly about her dismay in opening her paper on October 6th only to find that the Times’ Metro coverage had been integrated into its Main News section Monday through Saturday, and that Business and Sports were now combined into one section Tuesday through Friday.

“I realize that the changes enable the Times to offer me later-breaking business news on Mondays and a free-standing Arts Section on Saturdays, when I need it most,” the Canadian-born blonde bombshell told the audience. “But to make a decision to change the Times’ format just as Wall Street is crashing down around our feet, at a time when both the nation’s largest insurance company and the nation’s largest savings and loan are teetering on brink, sends mixed signals in tough economic times."

Chalk went on to call the experience of picking up a copy of the revamped Times on October 6th both “unnerving,” “unsettling,” and "a message of hopelessness."

“I admit, I took it personally,” said Chalke. “In hard times such as these, I view the New York Times almost like comfort food. And so to pick up a copy and find my mashed potatoes had been mixed in with my grits and my sweet potato pie was now lumped on top of my double cheeseburger just felt very wrong.”

In an aside, Chalke added that former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan "feels the same way" and congratulated his wife Andrea Mitchell on her recent Clinton-as-Secretary-of-State "scoop."

But Chalke said the Times format change “sent a very wrong economic message” at a time when the market was “searching for reassurance" and that the paper's decision "must have been made by the real estate department or something."

“And what have they done to Page Six? I couldn’t find it anywhere,” Chalke said, likening that section to "a steaming bowl of Campbell’s Tomato Soup."

Underscoring her state of confusion, Chalke added that she would eventually like to see the Times published “eight days a week.”

Yasmin Namini, senior vice president for marketing and circulation for the New York Times, responded to Chalke’s complaints in a chiding tone: “We never make such changes lightly. We believe this is an effective way for us to trim production costs while continuing to provide the full breadth and depth of high-quality that you expect of us.”

It’s not the first media protest for Chalke this year. In September, Chalke joined with two fellow Canadian ex-pats -- “Late Night With David Letterman” band-leader Paul Shaffer and famed comedian Martin Short -- in a sit-in in Ottawa over the format change of state-owned radio network CBC-2 from classical to pop, saying that CBC2 management had “chosen demographics over quality.”

Said Chalke at the time: “What on earth is Tom Allen doing? Who the hell wants party music at that time of the morning? I don't want to have my first coffee accompanied with screaming, booming crap banging my brain to a pulp. I get enough of that with those clowns driving by in their rubber-tired boom boxes. Reality check people: we get enough of that from the car and beer commercials.”

Chalke is a Canadian television and movie actress best known for portraying Dr. Elliot Reid on the NBC comedy “Scrubs,” the second and fourth Becky Conner Healy on “Roseanne” and Stella in the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.”

Chalke was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and was raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is the middle of the three daughters of Douglas and Angie Chalke. Her mother is originally from Rostock, Germany. According to a “Scrubs” commentary track, she used to attend the German school in her hometown twice a week. Her first language is English, although she speaks French fairly well and German fluently. Chalke graduated from Handsworth High School in North Vancouver in 1994.

Her father is a lawyer in private practice in Vancouver. Her parents also operate an adoption agency that specializes in placing foreign orphans (primarily Chinese) with Canadian families. Her older sister Natasha is also a lawyer, and she has a younger sister named Piper. In April 2008 Chalke became a naturalized American citizen. She is currently engaged to Jamie Afifi. She is also a vegetarian.

Chalke's acting career began at the age of eight when she began appearing in musical theater productions. At 12, she became a reporter on the Canadian children's show KidZone. In 1993, she took over the role of Becky (Conner) Healy on “Roseanne” from Lecy Goranson; she also made a cameo appearance as a different character in the Roseanne episode "Halloween: The Final Chapter" (#178, originally aired October 31, 1995). She returned briefly to Canada where she starred in the CBC Television drama “Nothing Too Good for a Cowboy” (1998-1999).

In 2001, she was cast as Dr. Elliot Reid in the NBC comedy series Scrubs, created by Bill Lawrence and co-starring Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Neil Flynn, Ken Jenkins, John C. McGinley, and Judy Reyes, with an opening theme "Superman" by Lazlo Bane.

She has appeared in several feature films, including Coke Sams’ “Ernest Goes to School” with Jim Varney, Linda Kash, Bill Byrge, Jason Michas, Sarah Chalke, Gabe Khouth, Corrine Koslo, Russell Porter, and Will Sasso, and and Nisha Ganatra’s “Cake,” with Heather Graham, David Sutcliffe, and Taye Diggs, as well as several episodes of “How I Met Your Mother,” created by Craig Thomas and Carter Bays, and starring Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan.

She also appeared in Channel 101's “The 'Bu” with “The Lonely Island,” a parody of the hit show “The O.C.,” but was credited as "Pamela Fenton". In 2007, she appeared as a supporting character in Marcos Siega’s “Chaos Theory,” with Ryan Reynolds, Emily Mortimer, and Stuart Townsend; “Cake” is the story of an obsessively organized efficiency expert whose life unravels in unexpected ways when fate forces him to explore the serendipitous nature of love and forgiveness.

In 2008, Chalke became the spokesperson for a line of women's underwear by Hanes that included a series of commercials directed by her “Scrubs” co-star Zach Braff.

Chalke lost her aunt and grandmother to breast cancer that was undiagnosed while in its early stages. Chalke has since encouraged breast cancer awareness, and starred in the Lifetime movie “Why I Wore Lipstick To My Mastectomy.” She is also an ambassador for the Audrey Hepburn Children's Foundation.

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