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Sigourney Weaver’s Emotional ‘Prayers’

hollywoodexclusive1Sigourney Weaver's Emmy nomination for Lifetime's "Prayers for Bobby" underscores the huge and lasting emotional impact the movie has had upon the esteemed actress.

Sigourney plays real-life gay rights activist Mary Griffith, a deeply religious woman who tried to turn her son away from homosexuality — but in the face of rejection and despair, he committed suicide. Thus began her turnaround. Sigourney reports that since the movie aired earlier this year, "I've had a number of parents come up to me on the street — or sisters, brothers or others — and say 'Thank you for this story. My daughter is gay, or my sister is gay … '

"That's meant so much to me. They acknowledged what we were doing in the hope it would open some eyes. And then I read in the paper last week that the poll numbers haven't changed about Proposition 8," she adds, referring to California's anti-gay marriage initiative. Not that she would have expected the film to cause a complete shift in public opinion, Weaver says disappointedly, but she did think that collectively, all the productions, profiles and protests since the vote would have had an impact. "I'm still amazed it got on the ballot," she admits. "It seems so unconstitutional, to have a referendum on whether your neighbor should have the same rights as you."

Meanwhile, producer Stan Brooks is looking into foreign release for the movie. "After all, we're not the only country that has these issues. I've been asked, 'When is it going to be shown in Ireland?' 'When is it going to be shown in India?' I hope Lifetime keeps showing it and at some point distributes it around the world," she says. As for whether she's had any flak for playing the role: "I don't think so. Of course I don't go looking for trouble. I don't go hunting around websites looking for comments."

She wouldn't have time for that, even if she wanted to. Weaver has five features on the way. She recently wedged in an appearance at Comic-Con, where the "Aliens" star was accorded royal treatment, including a standing ovation, led a discussion about women in action films, and was part of the panel discussing James Cameron's highly anticipated "Avatar." And she's in the midst of making Disney's "You Again" comedy with Jamie Lee Curtis, Kristen Bell, Betty White and Kristin Chenoweth.

HARMONIOUS CONVERGENCE: Jada Pinkett Smith is a loyal colleague, Joanna Cassidy wants us to know. "When she works with actors, she works with them again. She 's really good that way." Cassidy's currently being seen on Jada's "HawthoRNe" series as the hospital administrator who was Jada's late husband's mother.

"I actually did a movie with Jada about a year and a half ago — 'The Human Contract,'" notes Cassidy. In that one, she played Jada's character's own mom. "It was very believable. I wore a wing that's very curly and long, Jheri curled," says the actress of her mixed-race character.

Now, Cassidy's thrilled with the numbers "HawthoRNe" has been pulling, declaring that "It's a win for TNT" — and that in all probability, she'll get to keep working with Jada. "I love it. I love it. It's very easy with her. We have a very nice rapport, and I'm able to find my place with her. I don't have to struggle. It's good that our characters are in conflict," she adds. "We already talked about some of the story ideas for next year — more in the vein of being competitive, possibly for some male attention. You know how women are," laughs the actress, who rose to fame in "Blade Runner." "Let's light that fire."

CASTING CORNER: Casting continues on HBO Films's Al Pacino biggie, "You Don't Know Jack," with the Oscar winner playing controversial assisted-suicide-supporting Dr. Jack Kevorkian and fellow Oscar winner Susan Sarandon as Hemlock Society activist Janet Good. John Goodman and Danny Huston are also in the cast. Among the secondary roles now being filled by director Barry Levinson are those of a Hispanic California woman suffering from an inoperable spinal tumor, who'll be seen consulting with Dr. Kevorkian as police burst into her home. She'll dare the cops to arrest her or leave. The woman's husband is being cast also, as is a handsome 40-something anchorman who'll be seen interviewing Kevorkian, a.k.a. "Dr. Death."

AND: You know the hunger's got to be intense amongst actors trying to get in on "Dinner for Schmucks." That's the film, due to roll in October, that stars Paul Rudd as an executive at a private equity fund, where the bigwigs delight in having dinner parties wherein they bring guests so stupid or boring that they can have fun mocking them. Rudd's character thinks he's got it made when he finds the ultimate loser: an amateur taxidermist named Barry who creates religious and historical tableaus using dead mice — Steve Carell. Of course, things turn out very differently than planned. Now casting forces are filling in both the roles of the other "masters of the universe"-style execs, their significant others, and of course, the other hapless dinner guests.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster 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.COM

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