Moving From Fantasy To Facts

What makes a successful actress change gears and take up a career as a journalist?

In the case of Andrea Thompson, it was a question of following a lifelong dream and leaving a profession that was not fulfilling any more.

Thompson, who plays Detective Jill Kirkendall on NYPD Blue, is turning in her badge to move to Albuquerque, N.M. and become a television news reporter and anchor. She starts her new job on May 29.

Early Show Anchor Bryant Gumbel asks the obvious question: Why?

"Why do you find it a strange choice? It seems to be working for you," Thompson replies, adding, "You know, it's actually been a bigger fantasy than acting has been. Acting has been a job for many years, and I have loved the work I've done and loved the people I've worked with.

"I don't think of this as leaving NYPD Blue. I think of it as leaving acting," she continues. "I don't enjoy being an actor anymore, and I haven't for a number of years, and I have always, always been fascinated with the news. In fact, my mother was absolutely appalled when I was about 17, and I announced I wanted to be a photojournalist and go cover battles."

She will begin her new career as a reporter and part-time anchor at CBS affiliate KRQE -TV in Albuquerque. And she makes it clear she wants to start on a lower rung on the career ladder.

"I'm going because a have a great deal of regard and respect for this profession. So I feel I have to earn the right to call myself a reporter," Thompson explains. "I think some people are under the impression I woke up and said, 'I'm going to be a reporter.' No one understands there's a lot of work that went on behind this."

And what's Thompson's end game?

"This studio is nice," she tells Gumbel, glancing around Studio 58. "I feel very comfortable here."

And is there no chance that she will ever return to acting?

"You know, Hollywood is not going anywhere," she replies. "If there was a nuclear war tomorrow, the cockroaches would come back first and the studio executives, second. I'm not worried."