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Alanis Morissette In Fun Songwriting Mood

hollywoodexclusive1Award-winning filmmaker-provocateur Todd Solondz has sworn the cast of his "Life During Wartime" film to secrecy — to the point that the only thing Ally Sheedy will say about it is that she'll be on hand for the feature's debut next month at the Toronto Film Festival.

"Todd does not want me to talk about that movie," says Ally, but she does allow that it's bound to be talked about. "Life During Wartime" has been described as a dark comedy of sexual obsession. Solondz has said it's a companion piece to his controversial "Happiness" and "Welcome to the Dollhouse."

The movie is the latest venture into the avant-garde for Sheedy, who rose to fame in such '80s fare as "The Breakfast Club" and "St. Elmo's Fire." Her career took a bold turn with her Independent Spirit Award-winning portrayal of a drug-addicted lesbian photographer in the 1998 "High Art." Now Ally is used to going back and forth between art house indies and mainstream film fare, episodic TV ("Kyle XY," "Psych") and theater.

She has the Hallmark Channel movie "Citizen Jane" — a true life murder story — bowing Sept. 12. She has "Steam" coming out Sept. 29.

"That's another independent, and it's gone straight to DVD. But again, it was a wonderful experience because it was a chance to work with Ruby Dee," she informs.

She has a role in the forthcoming "Welcome to the Rileys" with James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo. "Amazing actors," Ally says.

Of her unusually eclectic credits, she explains, "When I was in my 20s, I was trying to figure out exactly what it was I wanted to be doing — how did I want to structure my career. I knew I did not want to stay in Hollywood. I wanted to play a huge range of characters, and work in every single medium possible. It took a while to figure out how to do this, but it's exactly what I wanted."

HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME: Alanis Morissette is taking a break from touring at the moment to focus on acting, but the singer tells us it hasn't kept her from writing music. "The summertime really brings out the semi-party animal in me so it inspires the fun, loving songs, which I'm not typically known for, I realize," says Morissette with a laugh.

"I have two records basically written internally. I often think that the actual execution of making the record is the last 20 percent. My producer would punch me in the face for saying that," she adds. "But for me, the heavy lifting is done now. I have a bunch of journals full. I just want to take a hot minute, though, before I get back into it."

IF THE NAME SOUNDS FAMILIAR: Trina Dolenz knows a thing or two about celebrity so adjusting to life in front of the camera has been an easy transition for the English therapist who is starring on VH1's "Tool Academy," which is returning for a second season Aug. 31. "I was married to Micky Dolenz of the Monkees and I was also his manager so I was used to all of that celebrity, but it was for my husband, not me. I've been in that sphere for so long that it all seems normal and it's nothing that would bother me. I'm kind of tickled pink and my children find it funny when anybody recognizes me. It just means people are watching the show," says Dolenz, who is helping the "toolish" guys become better people and better boyfriends.

"I always knew couples therapy would have a great appeal on television because people love watching other people's relationships. Individual therapy can be very boring," notes Dolenz, who has run private practices for couples therapy in London and Los Angeles. "I'd like to be the couples therapy version of Dr. Phil in the future," she adds with a laugh. "I certainly get loads of emails from people who say they benefit from watching the show and they learn things about themselves so that's one of the huge advantages to doing therapy on TV."

In the meantime, Dolenz is branching out into other media in hopes of helping many more couples. "I'm doing a book for the girlfriends to buy. It's basically therapy that you do on your guy without him knowing it. Hopefully that will be a big hit."

HELLO, AGAIN: Devin Ratray has been remembered as Buzz, the big brother bully in "Home Alone," for years, but after a break from the business to go to film school, the actor is taking it to the next level with a part in Bruce Willis's movie "Surrogates." Hopefully it will give audiences a chance to see a much more mature side of Ratray's acting. "It was one of the motivating factors that helped me get back into the business because I knew I didn't want to always be known as Buzz. I'm supposed to say it's flattering but it gets a little frustrating," admits the 32-year-old actor. "I can't get annoyed at the people who ask me if I'm Buzz, though. They've never met me before and they're genuinely curious, and it turns out they actually like my work. They're not saying, 'Are you Buzz? Well, you suck!'"

With reports by Emily-Fortune 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

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