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Apr 04

If NBC’s “Bent” romantic comedy gets tossed on the dust pile of short-lived series after tonight’s two episodes air — as TV pundits across the land predict — it certainly won’t be for lack of effort on the cast’s part to save the show.

Charming hottie David Walton tells us his schedule this past week included an intensive radio tour, TV and print interviews.  “Whatever is out there, I’ll do.  I’ve been whoring myself out as much as possible” as he puts it.  “I love it.  I love talking about the show.  The NBC publicity team has been helpful.  I don’t really know how publicity works, but I’m sure the more people hear about it, the better the chance people will watch, so I’ve been telling strangers.  I opened a bank account yesterday and I told the teller I would withhold my opening of the account if she didn’t watch.”

The series, with Walton as a surfer dude contractor working for Amanda Peet’s no-nonsense corporate lawyer/single mom character, has its flaws.  But it also has appeal in the actors’ chemistry, fun repartee and Jeffrey Tambor as Walton’s father, a frustrated actor.  It certainly appears to have more going for it than other shows given more of a chance than its stingy run.  Six episodes are being burned off in three weeks — opposite “American Idol” and “Modern Family.”  Really, it looks like the network is committing sericide.

But Walton is being as upbeat as possible, in his actory way, as he stresses the collection of good reviews amassed by “Bent.”   He adds, “The first episode was good, but by the third and fourth we hit our stride and were dying to do more.  We’ll end our run, and then for a month and a half we’ll wait for our fate.”

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Apr 04

News that Jane Fonda is probably stepping into the pumps of none other than former First Lady Nancy Reagan in Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” feature caused a flap last week — quite predictably, given Nancy’s association with Republican red, and Jane’s with red, as in commies.  This comes fresh on the heels of Julianne Moore’s performance as Sarah Palin in “Game Change” this election year, and Meryl Streep’s Oscar win for playing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  It’s a vintage season for actresses portraying political stars — and in each case, there has been a degree of controversy.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a politically-charged personality for casting to elicit widespread critiques.  When stars play stars of any sort, it’s a hazardous business.  Let’s face it, Ashton Kutcher’s casting as Steve Jobs has just been announced, and already, you know there are moviegoers poised to shoot him down.  Playing someone famous, the risks, the complaints, and the rewards are bigger.  For every triumph — ala Michelle Williams in her Oscar-nominated portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in “My Week With Marilyn,” or Jamie Foxx’s Academy Award-winning performance as Ray Charles in “Ray” — there are missteps galore.

You may recall the critical shark bit when the usually-great Kevin Spacey played Bobby Darin in his auteur film, “Beyond the Sea.”  Val Kilmer’s portrait of The Doors’ rocker Jim Morrison was too weird for some — perhaps appropriately — and it reportedly took Kilmer months to shake the character. Dennis Quaid got mixed reviews as Jerry Lee Lewis in “Great Balls of Fire!”  James Brolin was critically crucified for his performance as Clark Gable in the film “Gable and Lombard.”

However, when actors nail such a performance, the rewards are big.  The Academy loves a great star playing a great star.  Think Robert Downey, Jr. — nominated for his Charlie Chaplin performance.  Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, who scored an Oscar nomination for him and a win for her, for playing Johnny and June Carter Cash in “Walk the Line.”

With Charlotte Chandler’s Marlene Dietrich, A Personal Biography having focused fresh attention on the film icon (the book is just now being released in paperback), you can be sure actresses are musing about playing her.  Who could pull it off?  Cate Blanchett, perhaps?  She already has an Oscar for playing Katharine Hepburn in “The Aviator.”  What a bookend a Dietrich Oscar would be!  Or how about Diane Kruger of “Inglourious Basterds”?  Chandler says she imagines a European actress in the role.

Coming up this year are “The Drummer” biopic of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, starring Aaron Eckhart; Steven Soderbergh’s “Behind the Candelabra” HBO Liberace project with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon; Damon again in the planned Robert F. Kennedy biopic “His Life”; and  the competing Linda Lovelace biopics — Amanda Seyfried in “Lovelace,” and Malin Akerman in “Inferno: A Linda Lovelace Story.”  Time will tell who’ll get acclaim, and who’ll go down in flames.

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Apr 04


Edie Falco’s acclaimed “Nurse Jackie” returns to the Showtime lineup Sunday (4/8), while in real life, the actress is weighing whether to take on another role — or focus on her role as a mom during her hiatus this year.     “I’m looking at a whole bunch of stuff.  I’m sort of excited by the potential of some things coming up,” she tells us.  On the other hand, “It might not be the worst thing for me to take some time off.  It would actually be nice to be home for the kids and do some things.”

Her kids — adopted son and daughter Anderson and Macy — are now eight and four years old, respectively.  Edie has found that balancing work and motherhood, now that they’re a little older, “Is actually easier.  They come with me a lot.  They seem to enjoy themselves.  They run up and down the halls of the studio where I work. They know the people, play with the guys.  And when they don’t come with me, they understand when I say, ‘I’m going to be late tonight.’  I can actually sort of explain myself, and talk about it when they feel disappointed.”

Contrary to her real-life happy home, things are anything but healthy, smooth or fun for her pill-popping Nurse Jackie Peyton.  The beginning of the new season will find her “still fumbling around to find out exactly what her bottom is — what her last straw will be,” as Edie puts it.  As for Jackie’s work mates and loved ones, “Everybody’s tolerance for the insanity of addiction is different.”  Expect some big changes for Jackie this season.

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Apr 03

Jared Harris is practically a one-man rep company of late, with his “Mad Men” character, Lane Pryce, his recent turn as Moriarty in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” and his forthcoming role — as Ulysses S. Grant — in Steven Spielberg’s highly anticipated “Lincoln,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

“What a great character, what an amazing character,” he says of the Union Army General and 18th President of the United States.  “The number of failures the man endured!  When you consider that when the Civil War broke out, he was a store clerk in his father’s canning business, and then eight years later he was President of the United States, it’s fantastic.  What a great 10-part series on cable that would make,” Harris muses.  As far as Harris is concerned, “He’s been kind of maligned in terms of his military success, even his success as a president.”

Of Grant’s notorious drinking, Harris says, “He liked a tipple.  Apparently he couldn’t handle his liquor.  When there were in lulls in the campaign, he would commandeer a steamboat, go up the river for a day and get absolutely legless, and then come back.  But he was never drunk or under the influence while the enemy was anywhere near.

“One of the things that endeared him to his soldiers was that he lived the life they lived.  They were used to seeing commanding officers with 27 wagons of personal belongings following them.  Grant came with one clean shirt and slept on the ground.”

Harris credits “Mad Men” — and the fact Spielberg is a “Mad Men” watcher — for the fact he landed in Grant’s saddle.  In fact, he gives the 15-Emmy Winning AMC drama (freshly returned for its fifth season) credit for the heat in his career.  Having grown up amid the industry, the 50-year-old son of the late Richard Harris is all too aware of its vicissitudes.  “You’ve got to make hay while the sun shines.  I remember watching Jack Lemmon accept a lifetime achievement award.  He stopped in the middle of his speech, and said, ‘I don’t know if I’m crying because I’m so happy to receive this award, or because I haven’t worked in two years.'”

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Apr 03

The “Grimm” troupe is three episodes away from finishing production of its first season, with the cast and crew of that NBC supernatural crime drama in good spirits as they near the finish line.

“I don’t know that we’re a huge hit, but certainly a hit enough.  It exceeds most expectations,” notes Silas Weir Mitchell, who plays the series’ good wolfman, Monroe.  “Being on Friday is a nice element, because I think the expectations, viewership-wise, are less on a Friday.  We’re doing really well with Live+7, which is anybody who watches it on DVR or on demand within seven days of the original airdate.  As far as that metric goes, we’re doing very well.”

Mitchell is known for having played a string of disturbed and/or disturbing characters on “Prison Break” (as “Haywire” Patoshik), “Burn Notice” (as unstable arms dealer Seymour) and other shows.  He laughs when asked whether he yearns to play a regular sort, say a suburban dad or office worker.

“I don’t know about playing ‘regular,’ per se, but I think it would be fun to play someone whose rhythms are slower and kind of more delicate, than Monroe, whose brain fires at a certain speed,” he says.  “I love the bouncy, firecracker mind, but I think it would be fun to play someone deliberate, just as a change of pace.”

The actor is grateful that he hasn’t had to endure as many hours in the makeup chair as some might expect for the transformation into his creature alter ego.  He tells us that the team shot sequences of Monroe, the Blutbad, doing various movements all at once, and has interspersed them through the season, as needed.  “The guy who has really had to take it on the chin in terms of schedule is David Giuntoli,” he says of the series’ lead.  “Especially at the beginning, it was really all about him and stuff he was doing.  Now, as the story has entrenched itself and grown roots, there are more people involved in the story and it’s a little easier on him.”

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Mar 30

Gladys Knight is not only in the TV spotlight as a “Dancing With the Stars” contestant — she’s also planning for the launch of her first album in six years, “Another Journey,” next month.  Among the helping hands producing the recording is “American Idol’s” Randy Jackson, who won a Grammy for co-producing her “At Last” album in 2001.

“Yeah, I’m still working with big Dawg Randy,” says the legendary Empress of Soul with a laugh.  “That’s my buddy.  I’m finally coming out with that album.  People kept asking me for it.  I really thought I was through with recording, to tell you the truth.”

She says she’s been amazed to hear Gladys Knight and the Pips songs being sung by contestants on “Idol.”  “It does my heart good to know I did something that’s lasted all these years, and that they feel the music we did is worthy enough to choose to perform at such an important moment in their lives.  That’s how I feel about it: ‘This is your time to shine, and you chose my song.'”

Now is her time to shine as a dancer.  Asked for a progress report on her training, she says, “I’m doing pretty good.  I’m kind of shocking myself, because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do this.  I think a lot of it is due to my partner, Tristan (McManus), and how he teaches and how patient he is.”

Is Gladys a natural dancer?  “Noooo.”  She laughs. “You would think so, honey, with all them Pips dancing around me all the time, but they never let me dance, you know?  I used to want to learn the routines of the Pips and in the beginning I did.  Then Pops said, ‘Ok, look.  This is how it is, Baby.  You’re a lady.  So you’ll strut and the Pips will dance.’  And that’s how they set it up.”

The 67-year-old grandmother of 17 has been keeping up her concert tour schedule, training with McManus while on the road.  She is in the midst of a two-week break as we speak, expecting to get back out for gigs in Canada and Mississippi after tonight’s and tomorrow night’s shows.  “Is that crazy or what?  But when I perform, our engagements are set months in advance and there were things I just couldn’t cancel,” she explains.

Where does all her energy come from?  “Well, I try to eat right, and, you know, exercise is always good for you.  I had fallen off the wagon, so to speak, in terms of exercise, but dancing gives me my cardio.  It’s working out pretty good.”

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Mar 29

January Jones expects to keep her schedule clear for awhile to focus on all her attention on her precious guy in life — that guy being her six-month-old son, Xander.

“I promised myself I wouldn’t take any work after we wrapped unless it was something special,” says the blond beauty of “Mad Men” – which returned for its long-awaited fifth season on AMC last week.  “Kids are only babies for a year so I only want to be with him, and get some rest. There’ve been a lot of sleepless nights.  I went back to work quite soon after I had him,” she notes.

One would not guess she’d recently had a baby by looking at the spectacular actress.  As far as having a rigorous workout routine, she says she does not.  I fact, “I haven’t done any exercises yet.  I want to get back into yoga. I did a lot while I was pregnant, but haven’t done any since.”  She supposes her slimness has to do with “not having time to eat, and running around breast feeding.  Also, my mom’s very petite; I’ve got good genes.”

The Emmy-laden drama finished shooting for the season two months ago.  January had pink highlights put into her hair prior to new season premiere events – and fashion-following crowd took note appropriately.

“It’s fun.  I have fun.  I’m a girl.  I like to do silly things sometimes and I love to be able to experiment with things.  I wanted to be able to wake up in the morning and smile at my hair.  You know, as a mom you don’t get a lot of sleep.  I wanted to feel something to feel kind of girly and excited about.  A little retail therapy goes a long way.  Pink streaks go a long way – or, rose gold highlights.”

MEANWHILE:   January feels as if her Betty Draper Francis has been like a different character in each of the show’s seasons.  She credits creator Matthew Weiner for “taking Betty on a different journey each year.  He does that for all the characters, that’s the beauty of his writing.”

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Mar 26

Beautiful “Attack of the Show!” host Candace Bailey groans when asked if she gets to keep any of the dazzling array of new tech toys featured on the popular live G4 show.  “I wish!  It would be nice to have multiple flat screens,” she notes.  But she’s having a blast anyway. “It’s fun.  I get to look at all the gadgets.”

Bailey kept busy with acting gigs after her stint as a Nickelodeon “U-Pick Live” host – with her regular role on the series “Jericho” and numerous guestings.  “And then I thought, ‘Why am I not hosting anymore?  I should try to get back into it.”  Her appetite is certainly being satisfied now, with the four-night-a-week, hour-long comedy and news show aimed at gamers, digital media and pop culture enthusiasts.  She’s been cohosting since January, 2011 along with Kevin Pereira and Sara Underwood.  She’d like to do more acting, but the time demands of “Show” are pretty constant; their next “dark” week off isn’t until August.  Bailey says they generally do a table-read of the day’s material at 12:30, go into hair and makeup at three o’clock and go live at 4 Pacific.

“But we get three day weekends every week,” she notes.  Another plus:  she likes her cast mates.  “Kevin is such a giving host.  He’s so funny.  I like to laugh and he’s always cracking me up.”

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Mar 24

Christian Slater tells us he and the rest of the “Breaking In” team have all been “holding our breath” waiting to find out the fate of the Fox series — that was cancelled last May and then un-cancelled in August.  The comedy has been struggling, unable to hold onto the viewers of its lead-in, “New Girl.”  Having been around the cancellation block several times now, the star is bracing himself.

“It all comes down to ratings and people tuning in.  That’s what the networks care about.  It all comes down to America either saving it or killing it — and then having to deal with everybody saying, ‘Oh, I really loved that show.’  Definitely that’s what happens. I’ve done this three times now, and people say, ‘Oh, why’d they take it off?’” he imitates. Slater, of course, is referring to his 2008 series, “My Own Worst Enemy,” and 2009 drama show, “The Forgotten.”

You have to hand it to him.  Despite the frustrations, he’s certainly been doing his all to promote “Breaking In.”  He’s on Jimmy Fallon’s show tonight (3/23) and appeared on Ellen Degeneres’ show a few days ago, in addition to chatting with media.

“I enjoy it.  It’s a funny show, a funny premise,” he says of his comedy about a team of hackers and thieves that tests high-end security systems by breaking into them to find their flaws.  Asked if he hesitated to return when the show was “un-cancelled,” he says, “Only because I had just relocated to Miami, I was really kind of unsure of whether I wanted to come back to L.A..  That was really it.  There wasn’t any anger or sadness regarding the show in any way.  I basically had just moved.  That was the only issue for me.  I enjoyed doing it, and as long as I had the opportunity to do more work with those guys I was happy,” he says of creators Adam Goldberg and Seth Gordon.

As far as the revamp of the show, with Megan Mullally coming in to play the team’s unwanted new corporate boss, Slater says, “Certainly when they told me that’s who they were going after — and then when they got her — it was very exciting.  She’s great.  I’m a huge fan of her work on ‘Will & Grace.’  She is definitely a very funny woman, and she’s brought so much joy and really works very hard, very diligently to get all the material as good as it can possibly be.”

Ahead on the show are love triangle elements that have to be dealt with, Slater says, “And there’s a lot of sendups to movies from the past – ‘Indiana Jones,’ ‘Back to the Future.’”  The episode that just aired borrowed from the cult hit feature that started it all for Slater, “Heathers.”  Unfortunately, the show again sustained a post-“New Girl” viewer drop-off.  By the time you read this, Slater may well know whether or not he’ll be heading back to L.A. for more shooting – or not – as it’s decided whether this will be a 10 or 13 episode season.

Either way, he’s looking forward to settling in as a Miami resident, getting some sun, and going fishing.

Why the move?  Why Miami?  “I thought I’d like to have a little distance between myself and Los Angeles.  I started coming out here last year and was going down to the Florida Keys, which I really enjoyed, then I started migrating up north to Miami.  I just liked the size of it,” says Slater.  “It’s not all inundated with show business.  It’s just nice to have a little bit of normalcy.”

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Mar 24

A funny thing happened to the “Buried Life” guys as they were ramping up the launch of their What Do You Want to Do Before You Die? book next week.  The quartet, who became famous via the MTV show that centered on their zany bucket list exploits, were getting ready for an appearance at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University, and noticed that their Twitter feeds were getting numerous tweets with the hash mark #SaveRichard.  It was an effort by students to get the fired-up four to help find a kidney donor for fellow student Richard Bland.   And so they are. 

With “Buried Life” Twitter attention,  #SaveRichard was soon the top trending topic in Atlanta, then became No. 1 in Georgia,  and a matter of hours later, landed at No. 3 worldwide, according to group leader Ben Nemtin.  The next day, the guys were on hand at a rally to support the ailing student at Kennesaw State’s common area, along with press.  Also, “We posted a You Tube page,” Nemtin adds.  If massive attention can bring Richard the help he needs, he certainly will get it.

As fans are well aware, good deed doing is standard procedure for the “Buried Life” boys – along with such shenanigans as crashing the Iowa State Fair Parade, trying to steal a lock of Robert Pattinson’s hair, and getting to play basketball with President Obama (yes they did).  Now they’re massing their vast Twitter and Facebook forces to help them get their new, captivating tome high onto the Best Seller lists so as to fulfill the “Write a Best Seller” item on their famous list. 

It is a worthy book.  A collection of followers’ shared “Buried Life” goals and dreams, What Do You Want to Do Before You Die is touching and funny.  “I have so many favorites – the girl who wants to be the first woman president, the guy who wants to be the best father to his future children,” says Nemtin.   It’s full of inspiring quotes and eye-catching images as well.  And it has tens of thousands of user reviews on book sellers’ sites already, another testimony to the power of their following.              

So, what of the purported new, improved version of the “Buried Life” series they’ve been prepping?  “It’s coming along really well.  We’ve been in the editing bay, putting it together.  I can’t talk about details,” says Nemtin, “but we’re finally on the home stretch.”

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