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‘Secret Life’ Takes on Fathers Rights

hollywoodexclusive1"The Secret Life of The American Teenager" is poised to press another hot button issue — fathers rights. Expect friction to escalate over unwed teen father Ricky's visitation with his baby son on the ABC Family Channel's very hot teen serial, which just launched its second season. That's the word from Daren Kagasoff, who plays the cool-but-troubled high school lothario, Ricky, who impregnated fellow band member Amy Juergens (Shailene Woodley) in a one-night stand. Now they're shooting episode 12 of the whopping 24-episode order for this season — an order that will keep the series troupe busy 'til the end of November.

Kagasoff offers up a teaser for what lies ahead, saying that Ricky, who's been stepping up in an uncharacteristically admirable way to be responsible for his infant offspring, "is getting into more of a debate over who gets to babysit the kid" — and may even take legal action in the matter. However, Ricky "doesn't want the court to find out" about certain things in his shadowy past.

"It's definitely another obstacle for Ricky. His main focus is the baby, and being the best dad he can be in spite of all his baggage, his cheatin' ways," says the amiable 21-year-old actor, who is up for Choice TV Breakout Star in the Teen Choice Awards. "Secret Life" is up for several Teen Choice honors on the show airing Aug. 10. (To vote, visit http://www.teenchoiceawards.com.)

Kagasoff says he had no idea Ricky would be going from bad boy to mensch this year. "None of us know our characters' destiny. Once in a while we talk to the creator (Brenda Hampton), but usually we don't know our fate until we open the scripts," he says.

As far as criticism over the series' preoccupation with sex, Kagasoff says, "I think you have some episodes that touch on sex more than others, but I give credit to the writers for the way they handle it. In this day and age, as much as we might want to turn away from it, that's what interests the young audience — sex. It may sound stupid to say, but that's why we've become a hit with them."

SOMETHING FUNNY IS GOING ON: Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter have teamed up to create and star in Comedy Central's new show "Michael and Michael Have Issues," premiering July 15, but Showalter tells us this does not mean the end of their popular sketch comedy group Stella.

"Stella still exists. We went on tour in the fall, and I think we'll go on tour again. We've also talked about the possibility of trying to make a feature film. This TV show just isn't a Stella project," notes Showalter of doing the show without their third member, David Wain. "David has been making movies for the last few years while Mike and I were trying to get a TV show on the air, so in this particular project David is not involved."

In the TV show, Showalter says it hasn't been much of a stretch because he and Black basically play themselves. "We are making a sketch comedy show for Comedy Central called 'Michael and Michael Have Issues.' A good portion of the show are the actual sketches we're making for the show, so it's a sketch show, but each episode has a narrative that is taking place behind the scenes of the sketch show we're making," he explains. "The characters that we play are sort of at odds both creatively and otherwise. There's a lot of competition, backbiting and passive aggressiveness. It's kind of based off of our actual relationship and our actual experiences, but then fictionalized for television."

CASTING CORNER: With Cher and Christina Aguilera set to make the movie "Burlesque," now comes the question of which actors will be brave enough to try to hold their own with those two rockets. We get word that casting is underway for the character of Jack, a struggling musician who tends bar at Cher's character's burlesque club — and becomes more than a friend to Christina's character.

And, by the way, Christina Aguilera as a naive small-town Iowa girl who comes to the big city and gets drawn into burlesque? Yeah, there's an acting challenge in there for the "Dirty" performer in the early scenes, for sure.

REALITY GAVE THEM A ROLE: Producers for an upcoming reality show called "The Good Life" have been looking to enlist prosperous families who want to show off their homes. Requirements include a minimum of two kids under age 16, five people or more on staff and a large house with large rooms. One wonders why families who have all that going for them would care to have a reality show invade their space, but there are all kinds of reasons, as the "Real Housewives," all cities, demonstrate.

With reports by Emily Feimster.

To find out more about Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and read their past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 MARILYN BECK AND STACY JENEL SMITH

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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