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Jennifer Love Hewitt Directs 100th ‘Whisperer’

hollywoodexclusive1Sure, it's getting near Christmas, but on the "Ghost Whisperer" set, it's been more like Halloween. The series company has been engaged in shooting its 100th episode this past week, with star Jennifer Love Hewitt as director. With this year's storyline moving toward a confrontation with supernatural forces from the dark side, she has her hands full, to say the least.

"I don't know what I'm allowed to say, but it's serious," the show's Camryn Manheim lets us know. "Let's just say pyrotechnics. A lot of pyrotechnics. Let's say it's one of those episodes where, going in, everyone says, 'Don't make any plans. We're going to be around for a long time.'"

The Emmy-winning actress admits she hasn't been so sure about some of the dramatic moves taken by the "Ghost Whisperer" writer-producers over the last couple of seasons. In particular, "I was skeptical about the huge leap of Jim dying and then taking over someone else's body," she says, referring to David Conrad's character, the husband of Hewitt's Melinda Gordon. "I wasn't sure people would stick it out, but they have. In fact, the popularity of the show has increased. The viewers are smart. They do want to be challenged. They are willing to work harder to follow a new story line."

Indeed. This year moved "Ghost Whisperer" ahead five years, making Melinda and Jim's baby, Aiden (Connor Gibbs), into a young child with even more powerful — and dangerous — abilities than his mother's.

THE BIG-SCREEN SCENE: Secrecy on James Cameron's "Avatar" was so intense, at least some of the actors found themselves being allowed to read the script for the first time in a room with a guard posted outside to ensure they didn't leave with any pages. Such was the experience of Joel David Moore, who is about to spring into public consciousness as the third human-to-avatar character — along with Sigourney Weaver and Sam Worthington — in the highly anticipated feature arriving in theaters Friday (12/18).

Of course, he's not complaining.

"I'm floored," he says of the 3-D feature that takes place largely on a foreign planet named Pandora, and that boasts a higher grade of motion-capture animation than ever onscreen before. "I'm just giddy about it."

For Moore, "The nice thing about Cameron is, he goes for the actor he wants, not necessarily the one the studio tells him or the one that makes more sense monetarily." After putting himself on tape, Moore was called in for a meeting and asked to perform a scene in gibberish. He left, he says, thinking, "'There is no way. That is so ridiculous.'"

Believing "'I'm never getting this role. I might as well just take the time I have,'" Moore says he peppered Cameron with questions about the story and even offered his own opinions when he had the chance. He now thinks that his "I've got nothing to lose" attitude worked in his favor. In the final audition, "Cameron was shooting it like it was the movie with all the lighting, the camera ... halfway through, I realized, 'I think he likes me for this.'"

Once Moore knew the part was his, it was on to Hawaii, "rehearsing in the tropical rainforest, which was the closest Jim could find to Pandora, so we could feel what it was like to slip in the mud, feel the twigs snap, brush away flies and all that — and have video to reference when we were shooting scenes in this big gray space where we were doing the motion-capture animation."

The film shot over a two-year span, and "We shot hard," Moore recalls. "The other thing about having Jim at the helm, because he's so passionate and creative, you want to be passionate and creative, too. You'd spend 14 hours a day doing these stunts and keep bringing your best. It was such a great experience. We felt like we were this team, that we were not only making a movie, but we were making history."

IN THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON: We just love how Kevin Bacon has made hay with the whole Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon phenomenon — particularly as the star has utilized this offshoot of his fame to set up a network for good with his Six Degrees Foundation. Right now, folks can go on his sixdegrees.org website and purchase "Good Cards" as presents.

"We launched them last year," he tells us. "It's a great gift because you can buy a card for any amount and then the person you give it to gets to decide what they want to do with it from a charitable standpoint. It kind of gives twice because you give it to them, and then you're sort of empowering them to go give as well. They can hold on to the card and wait to see something that they want to get involved with. Or if they want, sixdegrees.org can help steer them in the right direction."

According to Bacon, putting people together with great causes "has been the idea behind the site from the beginning. The Good Cards are kind of another chapter. They've been really successful. It's kind of like philanthropic online shopping."

A LONG WAY FROM HOME: Shiri Appleby, whose mother hails from Israel, hasn't had much of a chance to celebrate Hanukkah, what with the intense production schedule on her promising new CW series, "Life UneXpected," up in Vancouver, Canada. "The prop master brought in a menorah," she tells us. The cast has become so tight, she says, they're heading to Whistler Mountain together for a weekend getaway. The show goes on holiday hiatus Christmas Eve.

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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