‘Reviving Ophelia’ Provided Much-Appreciated Post-Divorce Lift for Jane Kaczmarek

Jane Kaczmarek Lifetime photo

           Making Lifetime’s “Reviving Ophelia” movie that airs Monday (10/11) came as a much-appreciated lift for Jane Kaczmarek.  The actress, who reigned for seven years as authoritarian mom Lois on “Malcolm in the Middle” — and for 17 as half of one of Hollywood’s favorite couples with ex-husband Bradley Whitford — admits, “It was a tough year.  My husband filed for divorce.  It was a very sad year.”

            Many in the industry thought of the Whitfords as a great couple.  “So did I,” she says.  “I never thought I’d be single again.”

            The divorce came in tandem with the disappointing cancellation of Steven Bochco’s ”Raising the Bar,” in which she played a judge, after two seasons.

            “Reviving Ophelia” represents “the first time I’ve worked since all of this happened.  My manager liked the idea of getting me in front of a camera again, reminding me when I was good at something,” says Jane candidly. 

            Drawn from psychotherapist Mary Pipher’s seminal books about the pressures and expectations facing young females in our “girl-poisoning” contemporary society, the movie centers on a high school girl’s (Rebecca Williams) relationship with an abusive boyfriend.  Kaczmarek is the mother in denial.

      These days, Jane is bouncing back.  She’s dating.  She continues to flex her acting muscles with North Hollywood’s Antaeus theater group (she opens in Lillian Hellman’s “The Autumn Garden” later this month).  She says a half-hour comedy would be a dream, but she’s not open to the kind of series schedule in which 12-hour days are the norm.

      Jane’s children are now 12, 10 and seven years old, and she says, “I don’t like to leave them.  Being a mother has really become my – I really like it.  I’m older – 54.  Having kids this late, I waited so long to have them, and then when they were really little, I was working on ‘Malcolm’ – a great time on a great show.  But now, I really love being home with my kids in the middle of the day, cooking with them, getting a real good look at what women who aren’t in show business do.” 

Nestor Serrano Disney photo

       FROM THE INSIDE LOOKING OUT:  Busy character actor Nestor Serrano, who plays the not-so-nice Pancho Martin in Disney’s thrilling “Secretariat,” opening today (10/8), is relieved to find that moving from his long-time New York home to Los Angeles hasn’t slowed down his professional pace.  In fact, he went right into working on an upcoming episode of “90210.”  Part of the reason for the move: warmer and dryer weather conditions to benefit to his four-and-a-half-year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy.

            “I’ve been involved with United Cerebral Palsy of New York for 12 years – that’s approximately eight years before my daughter was born,” discloses Serrano.  “A friend of mine who was helping out with an event told me about it….and little by little, I’d come in and help out and my involvement got bigger.   My wife and I are board members.  It’s purely a coincidence that our daughter was born with cerebral palsy.”

            Volunteering, he says, isn’t a chore “when you love what you do, when you realize how many people out there don’t know there are resources that can help them…guide them through services and find financial resources.”  Unfortunately, Serrano also knows, “There’s not a breakthrough on the horizon.  You know, you can have a thousand people with cerebral palsy and a thousand different manifestations — from a vegetative state to a level that’s undetectable to the untrained eye and everything in-between.”

            His daughter, “doesn’t do well in humidity.  One of the main conditions in her case is breathing issues,” he says.

            Hence the family move.  “It was a huge change and one I was really, really frightened to make.  I love New York, and thinking of the holidays, family — I  knew it was going to be difficult,” Serrano says.  “But the punch line is, I love it here.”

            Weather wasn’t welcoming when they shot “Secretariat” in Kentucky, “in the summer.  Hot times and a lot of manure, and there was the smell factor,” he recalls.  But Serrano is laughing, not complaining.  “It was such an extraordinary experience,” he says.  “And Diane Lane — she was such a huge anchor for this movie.  Her character has an arc that could easily have been thinned out by a lesser caliber actor, but she really fleshed this out.  Her character has so much heart and passion and commitment.  To know this is a true story is really remarkable.”

Jimmy Smits NBC photo by Mitchell Haaseth

     THE VIDEOLAND VIEW:   Jimmy Smits’ ‘Outlaw’ airs its fourth episode tonight, with industry watchers waiting to see whether the legal drama will become the third casualty of the new season (“Lone Star” and “My Generation” have already been cancelled).  In the case of “Outlaw,” the series  improved after its pilot, warranting a second look.  With production having been halted this week after eight episodes were shot, ratings need to soar for the show to survive.

     SCARY TIMES:  Good news for fans of frightening film fare.  Prolific director Andy Fickman (“You Again”) is moving right along with his ambitious plan to remake four cult favorite flicks from the old RKO Studio: “Bedlam,” “Five Came Back,” “I Walked With A Zombie,” and “Body Snatchers.”  He tells us he’s just about due to get “two of our scripts in and we’ll start doing some readings on those.”  He adds, “I’m a fan of horror films, the thriller genre in particular.  It’s so much fun to take these projects and give them a modern-day spin.  It’s a pretty big process, putting four of them through the development wringer.”

 

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This entry was posted in The Hollywood Exclusive by Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and tagged , , , , , on by .

About Stacy Jenel Smith

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley when it was a kids' Shangri La in the 60s and we had Fabulous Eddie's miniature golf and trampolines on Ventura Boulevard. My big brother frequented The Third Eye psychedelic shop back in the day, but he wound up turning out anyway. Dad was an NBC video man who worked on "Laugh-In," Dean Martin's show, and specials by everyone from Sinatra to Fred Astaire. Mom was a first class home maker and PTA and GCA volunteer. They're still doing great. Anxious to get going in life, I quit college and jumped into journalism when I was still a teenager, and was writing for the New York Times syndicate and People magazine before turning 20. But that was a long time, many adventures, lots of traveling around the world and thousands of interviews ago. I go back to the very last days of hot type and getting to talk to Henry Fonda and Bette Davis, and Sammy Davis at the old Brown Derby...What a ride. That's in no small part thanks to my amazing writing partner, Marilyn Beck, one of the grand old-school Hollywood columnist stars -- a true star -- who knows how to do it right. I'm lucky, for sure. Now is fun, too. I love going out to events with my 17-year-old daughter (Jonas Brothers!). Seeing everything fresh through her eyes renews my excitement about the game. In-between I went back and finished school -- University of Redlands -- married, divorced, and at long last found my true love. My favorite things outside of the show business realm are being with my family, my faith and spiritual growth, learning new things (from doing Qigong to uploading stuff on Facebook), and running. See you on the trail.

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