Tag Archives: Outlaw

‘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.”


Jimmy Smits Going the Extra Miles for ‘Outlaw’

Jimmy Smits NBC photo by Mitchell Haaseth

Jimmy Smits has been going the extra mile — and then a few miles more — to give a last-minute boost to his new NBC “Outlaw” series, which gets its premiere tonight (9/15) after the finale of “America’s Got Talent.”

“I’m a little worn around the edges.  I’ll be happy when we kind of set sail and let the shows speak for themselves,” admits the nice guy star, who’s also an exec producer on the show.  “But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.  Having to travel to New York or DC to do press stuff, which we have to do — it’s taxing.  It’s been an exercise in time management for me.”  He laughs.  “Get the violins.”

He was in the midst of what promised to be a 16-hour work day when we spoke to him.

The fact that Smits’ new drama takes lots of risks makes it all the more challenging to launch.  The biggest risk: his character, a Supreme Court Justice who’s a decidedly flawed fellow, and who steps down from the bench in a crisis of conscience and starts taking on cases that are related to controversial issues, like immigration.  The bad boy good guy has left some critics dubious.  However, Jimmy points out, “It’s a very personalized viewpoint we’re looking at, so it’s not soap-boxy…The hot button issues we do, juxtaposed with a character who has a lot of flourishes, complexities and chinks in the armor, makes for something really compelling.”  They’re starting Episode 4, he says, and have found their groove.

Smits’ lady of twenty-some years, Wanda De Jesus, has her own series about to launch as well – “Law & Order: Los Angeles.”  As far as how things are on the home front, he says, “We’re fine.  Everything is fine.”

And as far as  the fact that his show is scheduled, in its forthcoming regular Friday night timeslot, opposite fellow veteran Favorite TV Star Tom Selleck’s “Blue Bloods”?

“I wish him well.  We all just have to do the best we can when we get our up at bats, that’s all,” says Jimmy.  “We’re doing good work over here.  I’m excited.”

Jimmy Smits’ New Series Tackling Arizona Immigration Controversy says David Ramsey

David Ramsey

Jimmy Smits’ forthcoming “Outlaw” series isn’t wasting any time getting into controversial territory.  “We are taking head-on Arizona headlines in immigration reform,” reports series costar David Ramsey

He reports that the team is shooting its third episode (including the pilot) of the NBC drama now. “We are talking about immigration reform in a very interesting way.  Garza has some interesting opinions on it,” he adds of Smits’ character, a Supreme Court Justice who leaves the bench and goes back to practicing law as an attorney on high-profile cases.

Ramsey doesn’t want to spill details on the episode – nor on an episode already in the pipeline that has to do with gay rights.  But he does make clear, “Some weeks you’ll see a more conservative view, and some weeks a more liberal view.  Ultimately, what Jimmy’s character wants is to get to what is just.  He was led to leave the Supreme Court because the system didn’t work, whether conservative or liberal.”

He acknowledges, “Yes, there’s an element of fantasy in having a Supreme Court justice come down from his lofty position and work for the little guy – but I think the audience will forgive that, and buy into the dream.”

The show marks the fourth time that David and Jimmy have worked together.  There were their memorable “Dexter” characters as a pot-smoking informant and a homicidal Assistant DA, respectively.  There was Ramsey’s term as a campaign aide for Smits’ Presidential run on “The West Wing.”  They’re both in the current big-screen “Mother and Child.”  And now, Ramsey is a liberal attorney who’s a long-time family friend of Smits’ and who becomes part of his dream team of lawyers.

“You can’t do better than working with Jimmy,” notes Ramsey.  He recalls meeting on “Outlaw” with Smits, creator John Eisendrath and the other producers: “The chemistry between us was great in the room when I walked in, and someone said, ‘Well, this is a no-brainer.’”

Smits’ New Series to be Spiked With Real-life Controversy

Jimmy Smits

Expect Jimmy Smits’ forthcoming “Outlaw” drama to be fueled by hot button issues, attention-grabbing news blasts and tough controversies.  That’s the word from the star himself, who points out, “My years of working on ‘The West Wing’ did cement in my mind the fact that there is an audience out there for topical stories.”

“Outlaw,” as you may know, has him as a Supreme Court Justice who steps down.  “The way we’re positing the character is that during his time on the bench, he’s been one of the more conservative-leaning judges.  His father, you see in the pilot, is an activist, kind of liberal.  When his father dies, it causes him to reassess what he wants to do in his life,” Jimmy explains.  “He decides he can make more of an impact by going around the country, trying cases.

“It’s exciting trying to do something a little bit out the box there,” he adds.  “This character is edgy and not predictable.”

He reports that he’s seeing outlines for the shows’ scripts as the writers work away, with plans for production to start the second week of July.  Before he steps before the “Outlaw” cameras, however, the actor — who now holds the distinction of playing both the President of the United States and a Supreme Court Justice on TV series — heads to Washington, D.C., appropriately enough.  He’s hosting the 30thAnnual “A Capitol Fourth” Independence Day mega-event before a crowd of a quarter million on the lawn of the Capitol building – plus millions of viewers at home via PBS.

“I’m always psyched to do it.  My family loves it,” he says.  “They always try to be as eclectic as possible in terms of the performers, to have a real tapestry of our country, and this year they’ve done it in a really big way.  David Archuleta from ‘Idol,’ Gladys Knight, Reba McEntire, Darius Rucker, and the National Symphony Orchestra, which is going to do a wonderful tribute to Erich Kunzel” — who died last year, having conducted at the event for 20 years.  Then there’s the other big “Capitol Fourth draw.  Notes Jimmy, “I grew up in New York, so fireworks on the 4th of July is a way of life.”