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Pregnancy a Big Difference in ‘Rita Rocks’

hollywoodexclusive1Lou Diamond Phillips is taking a breather, "waiting for my marching orders from 'Stargate Universe'" — and getting in some much-wanted family time.

It's been a couple of years of back-to-back projects for the actor-director — projects that couldn't have been much more different from each other, from King Arthur in his year-and-a-half "Camelot" stage stint, to co-starring in the big-screen "Che," to directing and co-starring in the period prairie telepic "Love Takes Wing," to making an excellent showing in the 2009 World Series of Poker, to winning "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" in June — to his Oct. 2-debuting SyFy show.

"I not only like to work, I need to work. I have four daughters," he points out.

The latest in the "Stargate" franchise has Phillips' team stranded aboard an ancient space ship, unable to change its course, but able to communicate with Earth. Thanks to the wonders of something called a communication stone, his character and that of cast mate Louis Ferreira can trade bodies. "It actually works very well," says Phillips, who's in five of the nine episodes shot so far. "Not only is it kind of amusing and fun to watch, it also presents some great emotional dynamics. You're privy to the other person's thoughts and feelings."

Meanwhile, Phillips is still saddened by the showing of "Che," the two-part film biography of revolutionary Che Guevara starring Benicio Del Toro and directed by Steven Soderbergh. "That was very much under-seen," he says of the 4 1/2 hour epic — that grossed some $30 million worldwide on a $58 million budget. "It's one of those things, when people discover it, it's a brilliant piece of acting." He concludes, "It's not fast food and we're in a fast-food environment."

ROCK-A-BYE BABY: "We've written in a pregnancy, which is a big difference," says Nicole Sullivan of her Lifetime show, "Rita Rocks," which returns for a second season Oct. 5. Producers decided on the story line when Sullivan herself became pregnant with her second child. "It's definitely changed the dynamic of how Rita is in her life. It strengthens what we were writing about her in the first place. This is a woman who is trying to keep all of the plates spinning and on some days has a hard time doing so," explains Sullivan, who as of press time is just days away from giving birth.

"What's so great about this show is that it came along at a time in my life when it was exactly where I was emotionally. My whole life was spent doing things I needed to do for me and the minute you have a kid, it's not about you anymore. But the show is about remembering that after being a mom, we're still human beings. You've given up your whole life for this kid, but you can't forget to make yourself happy because a happy mom makes for a happy family."

Fortunately for her, Lifetime has been very supportive of the show, which Sullivan believes has many more seasons to go. "I feel like I bought stock with Lifetime at exactly the right time — not literally. It feels like Lifetime is on their way up. They're making all the right choices for their programming and we're proud to have sort of been a flagship for that. You know the rug can be pulled out at anytime, but I think they really believe our show is a big part of making their network work."

THEM THAT'S GOT: A standout among casting notices this week called for a woman celebrity, popular with the young female demographic — think Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian — to do an autograph session at a jewelry store in Glendale, Calif., and wear store jewelry. The offer: three hours for 10 grand. Wow, a whole three hours?

BOW WOW: George Lopez told us awhile ago that he'd love to reprise his voice role as Papi, tiny hero of "Beverly Hills Chihuahua." But now, it doesn't look like they're going in the major-name direction for the sequel. Despite a reported $145,824,897 worldwide box-office gross for the tale of Papi and his lady, chic Chihuahua Chloe (Drew Barrymore), the follow-up will be a direct-to-DVD movie that starts shooting in October. It will have Papi and Chloe married with five puppies, upon whom it appears the action centers — and a boy who is trying to keep his parents from being evicted from their home.

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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