HOTSEATED- Secrets of the 2007 HotSeat sitters

From the courtroom, to the Lawn, to the City Council chambers, to your own TV, you know their names and faces. But do you know about the time a prominent CEO jumped into a co-ed pool naked? Or how one author taught her dog to sing? Or how one of our most powerful lawmen went from throwing punches to knocked out cold in 45 seconds? These are the stories our local celebs have to tell when they sit in our HotSeat, and here are some of the best from 2007. 

NBC29 meteorologist Norm Sprouse feels comfortable enough in front of the camera to forecast the weather, but if he had to change something about himself, he'd be "less shy."

Though he didn't have any Borat sightings, Mark Shore of the Charlottesville Albemarle Visitors and Convention Bureau is proud to report that while adopting a child in Kazakhstan last year, "I spent five weeks in a one-bedroom apartment in Karaganda with my wife and three biological kids, and nobody had a meltdown."

Although she said Katherine Hepburn would play her in the movie, perhaps Cate Blanchett is better suited for the role of Debbie Wyatt. The veteran defense attorney says her Walter Mitty fantasy is "being Queen Elizabeth rallying her troops at Tilbury before the miraculous defeat of the Spanish Armada."

While he's all about peace, love, and understanding in everyday life as a psychiatrist and UVA's Dean of African-American Affairs, Maurice Apprey likes watching turmoil on stage: he spends many of his vacations, "travel[ing] around the world attending performances of Wagner's operas."

Photo by Matt MendelsohnWhile he's ruffled a few feathers as a critic for the New York Review of Books, Daniel Mendelsohn says the most real trouble he's ever been in was "being pulled over at 3am in my 1977 Triumph Spitfire by a lesbian police officer in Charlottesville in the summer of 1986, on 250 East, for speeding. I was chasing the car of a cute boy named, I think, Tiger May."

Photo by Susan Woodley RainesApparently, author Lee Smith has quite a bit of time on her her hands between books. Her proudest accomplishment? "I recently taught my dog Betty to sing 'Rocky Top.'"

Although she soon hopes to ask plenty of probing questions as Albemarle Commonwealth's Attorney, Denise Lunsford admits to once "ask[ing] someone at a birthing class how old babies are when they open their eyes– the only babies I had experience with were puppies and kittens!"

Charlottesville residents can count on Holly Edwards to be an honest city councilor when she takes office in January. She learned about telling the truth the hard way: when she was 14, on the way to hear a band, she tried "the old tell-your-mother-you're-going-somewhere trick." She got caught not only in a lie but also in a thunderstorm.

Back in February, former UVA provost Gene Block was preparing for his current job as chancellor at UCLA by driving around Charlottesville listening to "satellite radio tuned to the L.A. traffic channel to get me ready for entry."

Before she penned Practically Perfect in Every Way, not everyone thought Jennifer Niesslein lived up to her future book title. She confesses that, as a girl, she "got kicked out of Brownies."

While highly regarded for his business smarts, SNL Financial founder Reid Nagle has been caught with his pants down at least once. He admits to visiting New York and "getting the coed Downtown Athletic Club confused with the all-male New York Athletic Club, and diving into the DAC pool in the buff."

He's participated in strikes, protests, and other forms of civil disobedience, but Virginia Organizing Project executive director Joe Szakos says the most trouble he's ever gotten in was "a ticket for going through a deserted red light at midnight– 20 years ago."

Guitarist Matthew Willner's second favorite instrument of communication is also his biggest 21st century thrill: "my Blackberry, considering I remember rotary dial phones."

Since she did such a great job playing a White House flak on The West Wing, if our local PR star has her way, Allison Janney may soon be getting a casting call to star in the life story of Albemarle County spokesperson Lee Catlin.

Although known as a problem solver on the Albemarle Planning Commission, Marcia Joseph isn't always Ms. Fix-It. "I tried to fix my plumbing last summer," she reports. "What started out as a pinhole leak moved quickly into a major replacement project. The thrill of using a wrench properly turned to terror as I managed to pull the intake pipe away from the wall."

CBS19 reporter Lisa Ferrari has a Walter Mitty fantasy as sleek and fast-paced as her last name: "I'm a CIA special agent disguised as a broadcast journalist, and by night I'm saving the world. I drive a souped-up Ferrari, and my lipstick is a small, powerful revolver."

When she sang with Charlottesville metal outfit Soul Sledge, Richelle Claiborne could have worked up the angst by driving around town. Her pet peeve is "people who can't drive. I mean, use a turn signal! Actually yield at a yield sign!"

Even though she deals with plenty of hurt feelings as a psychiatrist, Barbara Haskins' favorite TV shows are "reality-type elimination dance programs."

While skilled at the piano, Will Anderson has equally fast fingers when it comes to the cell phone: he can boast, "I (in absentia ) bested the World Texting Championship's winning time by 10 seconds."

Although she'll probably use a bit more discretion as an Albemarle County Supervisor, Ann Mallek says, "At age five I climbed from the fence onto our old horse and galloped around the field without bridle or saddle. Messing with the horses without supervision was a second offense, as earlier I had showed up in the bath with a horseshoe-shaped bruise on my backside."

Albemarle Sheriff-elect Chip Harding might not have gone into law enforcement had his career as a boxer worked out. However, 45 seconds into his first fight, "I learned I was not a very good boxer: TKO with my nose broken in three places. The upside: I lost only one fight in my career!"

Nelson County supervisor Connie Brennan thinks that– considering his recent success playing a woman in Hairspray– John Travolta would be the right fit to play her in the movie.

Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman says that despite his usual practice of working with witnesses as a prosecutor, his most embarrassing moment came in the courtroom when "a witness started testifying about being held at knife-point, a recollection he hadn't shared with me before."