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‘Glee’ Star Says Expect the Unexpected

hollywoodexclusive1With his first week of "Dancing With the Stars" competition under his belt, Chuck Liddell tells us he's "just hoping to be a little more relaxed" on tonight's (9/28) installment of the popular ABC show. "I think each time, it gets a little easier," says the mixed martial arts legend and former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion. Unfortunately, he says, "a lot of things that are hard for me are similar from dance to dance — foot position, neck up, chin up, all that posture stuff."

So what's the inducement for Liddell, who's got to be the toughest guy in the room most places he goes — a guy who has a karate tattoo on his scalp — to want to trip the light fantastic in front of millions of people?

"I wanted to show we're not just a bunch of meatheads beating each other up. We can do other things. We're normal people. I'm a college graduate," he points out — and not the "gentle Neanderthal" judge Bruno Tonioli dubbed him. Liddell seems to be taking it all in stride: "I'm having fun. Everyone's been great, and I'm actually learning how to dance. I've meant to do that for a long time but never got around to it."

After his first foray onto the dance floor, he was advised to show his feminine side, but Liddell says his dance partner, Anna Trebunskaya, said, "'I've been working with this guy for a month now, and there isn't a feminine side to him.'" He laughs. "That's her job. I'm not here for that. I'm here to show real men can dance, to prove that you can be masculine and go out there and have a good time."

Will the UFC Hall of Famer (whose potential retirement has been a matter of speculation for months) take any of his new skills into the ring?

"You know, maybe I'll come up with a better victory dance."

IN A 'GLEE'FUL MOOD: "I feel like the show has struck the right chord at the right time. It's kind of become this great phenomenon," says Matthew Morrison of Fox's newest hit show, "Glee." "I hope people tune in and keep watching. Every episode is better than the last," continues the Broadway star. He plays the high-school Spanish teacher who takes on the challenge of restoring the school's glee club to prominence. He tells us to expect the unexpected as the season gets into full swing. "Sometimes I feel like the writers are writing themselves into a corner, and then in the next episode, you see how they write themselves out of it. I love that they don't keep you waiting," he notes. "The second episode you saw Finn and Rachel kiss already. They don't keep you hanging on like a soap opera. You know it's going to happen, so let's get to it already. That's what I love about the writing of the show."

While Morrison and the rest of the cast are busy trying to get new viewers to tune in to the TV musical series, he tells us he's been busy working on a solo album. "It's kind of Michael Buble-ish or along the lines of Jamie Cullum. It's got this big orchestra feel," he explains. "It will have some standards, as well as some originals, but I'm trying to put my own spin on it."

TAKE TWO AND CALL US IN THE MORNING: Seeing as health care is a priority issue across the socio-economic spectrum these days, get ready for a wave of movies and TV series episodes related to all things pharmaceutical. There's the Jake Gyllenhaal-Anne Hathaway drama, "Love and Other Drugs," on the way for release next year, from director Ed Zwick, for instance. Casting is now under way for "Second Chance," which is slated to roll in Seattle near year's end with Michael York. The story has to do with a man who takes on legal and pharmaceutical industry opposition after living through the nightmare of drug reaction-caused Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Among other things, the malady involves blisters that break out on the mucous membranes and treatment in a hospital burn unit.

THE BIG-SCREEN SCENE: With "Restless" heading toward a production start in November in Oregon, casting forces are interviewing candidates for the role of a teenage girl with a punk style. This is the feature — described as taking a distinctive and contemporary look at young love — that's been godmothered by Bryce Howard, with a script by first-time screenwriter Jason Lew, her friend and former New York University classmate. She's producing, along with Brian Grazer and her dad, Ron Howard, for their Imagine Entertainment firm and Columbia Pictures.

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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