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Sex on ‘Big Bang’ Not for Ratings Grab

hollywoodexclusive1When sexual tension between two main characters is a long-standing issue on a series, it's a huge risk to have them go to bed together, admits Johnny Galecki — whose "The Big Bang Theory" genius physicist Leonard at long last consummated his relationship with his lovely blond waitress neighbor, Penny (Kaley Cuoco), this season. Galecki insists, however, "I wasn't worried about it."

"I trust the writers very much," he says. "They were doing it for creative reasons. The numbers have never been better. If it had come up once the numbers were dwindling — if they were using it for that reason — that would have been very different. But now, it's bringing up interesting relationship issues about how their ideals differ, and the insecurities of the characters. Obviously, Leonard has a lot to be insecure about, but Penny, too — she has a young woman's insecurities to grapple with."

Indeed, "Big Bang" has been defying current TV trends by increasing its audience numbers each season. The troupe was mobbed on a promo trip to Latin America last year, which Galecki calls "amazing and terrifying. No one told us when we got off the plane in Mexico City that we were the No. 1 comedy in Latin America at the time. It was very different traveling during the summer break — the attention the show has gotten, all those eyes on you. I never had anything like it before, not even when I was doing 'Roseanne,' when there were twice as many people watching television."

They've just finished shooting the Christmas episode for Dec. 14 airing, with Christine Baranski returning to play his insufferable mother. "When she first came on, we were so young and modest a show at the time, we thought, 'Oh, she's just going to phone in a favor for Chuck Lorre because they'd worked together on 'Cybill,'" he recalls, referring to the series' creator. "But she worked so hard, we all learned."

MORE TRICKS COMING UP: Three-time CMA Vocal Duo of the Year Sugarland is busy right now with their "Gold and Green" holiday album and appearances. That doesn't mean, however, that music partners Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush plan to take it easy once the holidays are through.

"We hope to be recording at the beginning of the year," Bush tells us. "We have a new show planned for next year, with a new set and new music."

Sugarland is famous for its live show theatrics. They get into giant balls and roll over their audiences, for instance — a trick he says they adopted from their favorite psychedelic rockers, the Flaming Lips.

Will they continue to go all-out or try something a little more sedate and intimate next year?

"I think this show is going to be a little bit bigger, and I think we'll have even more magic in it than before," he says.

They're bringing their magic to the Dec. 20 TNT special, "Christmas in Washington," performing for President and Mrs. Obama along with Mary J. Blige, Neil Diamond, Rob Thomas and Usher, with George Lopez hosting. Nettles performed for the Obamas at one of his inauguration events, but this will be a first for Bush.

"They were looking for duets, and she sang with James Taylor," he explains. "For James Taylor, I have to lay my guitar down."

IF THE FACE LOOKS FAMILIAR: "Precious" director Lee Daniels — who will be balancing collecting awards-season accolades with work on his big-screen "Selma" historical drama — has quite a casting challenge at hand. Not only is there the role of Martin Luther King to fill for the story behind King's 1965 march in Alabama (and those knowledgeable of the script say this is a demanding, multi-dimensional, gritty depiction of the slain civil rights icon). There are also Lyndon Johnson, Coretta Scott King, Ralph Abernathy and George Wallace, to name a few of the notables in the screen story.

Esteemed documentarian Dr. Lutz Hachmeister (who won international acclaim for his 2005 BBC feature "The Goebbels Experiment," narrated by Kenneth Branagh) is taking on the real-life saga of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. He's currently considering candidates to play the role of the archconservative politico remembered for his instigation of the 1950s communist witch-hunts. The docudrama will include newly discovered footage, we're told. And audiences will see how McCarthy could come across as funny and warm, as well as crafty. Rounding out the cast of real-life characters to be portrayed are Roy Cohn and Richard Nixon.

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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