Julie Benz sounds delighted and very proud when talking about her former “Dexter” leading man, Michael C. Hall, and the way he’s handled his battle with Hodgkins Lymphoma.”He’s fantastic, doing just fantastic. His cancer is definitely in remission, and you know, they caught it very early,” she points out. And, Hall’s decision to go public, she feels, will inspire countless fans and others “to go and get checked out, because if you catch cancer early, you can kick its a–. Sorry to swear, but really, if you’re not feeling good or if you feel a lump in your gland, go to your doctor, no matter what. No matter how busy you are.”
Beautiful Benz debuted this past Sunday in her new recurring role on “Desperate Housewives” as Robin, the highly-educated stripper.
“It’s offered me the chance to do some comedy. It’s a very fun character, and very different from Rita,” she says, referring to her “Dexter” role. “I’m always looking for where I can go next and how I can do something different,” notes the actress. She plays a business executive who finds love among the vineyards in the Hallmark Channel romantic comedy, “Uncorked,” airing March 6.
Her schedule has been so grueling, between shooting the series, doing promotion and attending the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, she wound up getting sick with laryngitis last month. However, “I’m a workaholic and I thrive when I have to work hard,” she says.
And, it’s helped move her beyond the trauma of getting killed off “Dexter.” So did the fact, “I’m very close to a lot of the cast — Jennifer (Carpenter) and I are close friends, and Michael, James Remar and his wife, David Zayas and his wife — and I had the pleasure of going through awards season and being reunited with everyone.”
She doesn’t mind the fact that people are still approaching her and exclaiming about what happened to Rita. “I love that it was that impactful. It would really suck if they killed off Rita and nobody responded.”
ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: It’s not often that a celebrity begs to differ with Dr. Oz, but such is the case with Carnie Wilson, who turns up on Oz’s show today (2/4), ready to make a fresh start in her weight battle.
“He and I sort of have a conflicted diagnosis about something. He called me pre-diabetic, but that’s not right, according to my doctor and my numbers. I am in the very normal range. Maybe it was something he said for the show,” says the singer-cum-reality show star — “Carnie Wilson: Unstapled” on GSN — baker, and “Newlywed Game” host.
Carnie admits she was startled by some of what Dr. Oz told her, including that “at 65 pounds overweight, I fall into the morbidly obese category. When I weighed 300 pounds, I knew that I was in that category, but not now, at 218. I looked into that, and he’s right. My BMI is 39 and that’s too high,” adds Carnie, who has been trying to get rid of the weight she put on while pregnant with daughter Lucy, 7 1/2 months.
“The great thing about Dr. Oz is, he looked me in the eye and gave me big hugs and said, ‘I don’t see you as a celebrity. I see you as a wife and mom, and someone who has the opportunity to help millions of people.’ That’s the kind of man he is.”
She’s now going on the diet regime Dr. Oz lays out in his books, but admits that fitting in his prescribed daily workouts is a challenge for her. “When I’m filming and promoting the show, it’s not possible, but I’ll do as much as I can,” says Carnie.
STRUNG OUT: “CSI’s” Robert David Hall says he enjoys the occasional curve ball thrown his way by the show’s writers. For instance, a bit on the upcoming installment featuring Rascal Flatts required him to “autopsy a guitar that electrocuted some musician.
“I like it when odd things happen,” says Hall, who is a musician and singer himself. “I try to prepare for anything I do, so I went down to my guitar repairman, Norick Renson, and said, ‘I have to do an autopsy on a guitar,’ and he and his sidekick, Bret, told me exactly how to take apart a Fender bass guitar.” That’s going the extra mile for verisimilitude, all right.
COURSE OF DISCOURSE: Naomi Judd has a great gift of gab, but according to her, she had to sharpen her debate skills once she started appearing on TV all the time.
“Bill Bennett always calls me ‘the common sense’ celebrity,” notes the singer and talk show favorite, who’s exchanged words with hosts from Chris Matthews to Bill O’Reilly, in addition to having her own shows. “I’m pretty known for telling it straight.
“I learned to be more assertive on Bill Maher’s show. He said, ‘You are a Southern belle. You are too nice. If you’re going to be on this show, you can’t wait ’til Ann Coulter finishes saying something to jump in and try to negate her.'”
Still, Judd maintains a respectful attitude and fully intends to keep it that way.
With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster