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‘Pitchmen’ Will Carry on Without Billy Mays

hollywoodexclusiveJames Tupper is already feeling the pangs of missing family time with Anne Heche, their 5-month-old son, Atlas, and Heche's 7-year-old, Homer.

"Fatherhood — oh, my God, there's no way to express it," declares the actor, who's now gearing up for the launch of NBC's Sept. 23-debuting "Mercy" medical drama, in which he plays a doctor.

"I get up every morning and I jump out of bed and I look in his crib and he's there, and he smiles and it's ... amazing." He sighs and shakes his head. "I would like to tell other guys about that, about how it is. There's a feeling that that is unexplainable, unexplainably joyful. You actually feel like your life is no longer as important, like, 'Well, I'm here to make this beautiful thing grow.'"

He and Anne traded off sleeping and baby care early on in Atlas' life, he says, even as she went back to work on HBO's "Hung" series a mere eight days after giving birth. Now James has "Mercy" shooting in New Jersey.

Anticipating all the schedule juggling ahead, he admits, "We're 'trepidatious,' but we're taking it a day at a time. She's going to come and live in New York for a month with me, so that will be fun. We have family people who are helping out, and we have baby sitters."

CARRYING ON: Producer Thom Beers has already stated that his Discovery Channel show "Pitchmen" will continue despite the death of Billy Mays; and while some can't imagine the show without him, Beers reminds that there's still a lot more to watch.

"People have to remember, that show wasn't just about Billy Mays and Anthony Sullivan. It's about the spirit of American ingenuity. Billy and Sully were the dream merchants on that," notes Beers, who is also known for his hit shows "Ice Road Truckers," "Deadliest Catch" and "Ax Men." "I can never replace Billy. We all know that. He was a great guy. It crushes me, but at the same time, you've got to keep moving."

As for the future of the show, Beers explains, "Sully's going to mentor three young pitchmen as they try to learn the ropes. I knew this would work when I sat down and talked to Sully and he said, 'I don't want to work with these young people like that. They'll annoy the hell out of me.' I was like, 'Exactly!'"

In the meantime, Beers just started the second season of his hit truTV show "Black Gold," which follows a group of roughnecks working the oil rigs in Texas. "There was a great story this year because the owner had five leases that were all going to run out within two months, and if he didn't put holes in the ground, he'd lose as much as $250 million. The problem is that the price of oil went down so the entire industry slowed down. There are 20 guys standing in line for their jobs so obviously they're motivated to keep their jobs. It creates good drama, too," says Beers. "You'll see old guys helping the young guys and then the old guys realize the young guys are about to take their jobs. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there right now. This show picks up on that theme."

PRISONER OF SUCCESS: Edie Falco has been having great success with her Showtime series "Nurse Jackie," but the actress admits it is hard sometimes to get people to look past her most infamous role as Carmela on "The Sopranos." "I'm sure people still think of me as her. It's the thing most people have seen me in. If they were a fan of the show, they saw a lot of me," notes Falco, who seems to be winning over new fans. "All I know is that my job is to act with whatever is put in front of me. With 'Nurse Jackie,' I'm as involved in as I was with 'The Sopranos' so in an ideal world, people will take the journey with the actor who's put the work in."

While she's enjoyed very much working on "Nurse Jackie" so far, Falco tells us she does try hard to stay in contact with her former HBO cast mates. "Many of us do keep in touch. A lot of us live in the same area so I run into a lot of my friends. We have vacations together or we see each other outside of the work world," she says. "Plus, we travel in the same industry, which the longer you hang out, the smaller it gets."

ON-THE-JOB TRAINING: Scott Porter, who plays the front man of a popular garage band involved in a high school competition in the big-screen "Bandslam," tells us he didn't know how to play guitar when he signed on for the flick that stars Gaelan Connell, Aly Michalka and Vanessa Hudgens. "The thing I love about acting is that you get … to do things you always wanted to do as part of your job. I was taught to play guitar by a guitar coach; I played six or 12 hours a day."

Does he still play? "I can still play those four songs," answers the former "Friday Night Lights" star with a laugh. "When I have a moment, I plan to pick it up and continue it."

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.



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