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James Tupper Misses Working with Anne Heche

hollywoodexclusiveLucy Lawless acknowledges, "There's a truckload of blood," in her January-debuting Starz series, "Spartacus: Blood and Sand." "Life was very cheap then. They were just hard times, boy. You're looking for the triumph of the human spirit in a sea of degradation."

The former "Xena: Warrior Princess" star is back in her native New Zealand as she works on the series created by her husband, one-time "Xena" producer Rob Tapert, and exec-produced by Tapert, Sam Raimi and Josh Donen.

The show stars Australian actor Andy Whitfield as the legendary gladiator, and features the former "Xena: Warrior Princess" star as Lucretia, whose husband (John Hannah) owns a gladiator camp. That's very handy for Lucretia, who is sexually voracious and digs gladiators. Nudity required.

As for how it is to shoot hot steamy sex scenes with her husband wandering around nearby, Lawless says, "He doesn't wander around on those days. He's not interested in being part of that equation on set. He's in the office working — on visual effects or editing or whatever. It's not emotional, you know, these scenes. Everybody is very professional and just wants to get the job done."

When she's done for the day, she heads home to her and Tapert's two sons, ages 7 and 10. (She also has a 21-year-old daughter from her first marriage.) "My kids are of an age where they've had a lot of one-on-one with mom time. Now they've got their own social lives," she says. "They know I'm coming back. They can do without me for 12 hours."

Lawless also says, "While it wasn't part of my plan to leave America — I was having a great life with all my wonderful friends — it's good for the family."

ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: James Tupper tells us he's grateful for his job on NBC's "Mercy," but it's hard not to miss the time he spent working on the show "Men in Trees." The ABC show was canceled in May after two seasons due to low ratings. He says he especially misses working with his fiancee, Anne Heche, whom he met while on the show.

"Yeah, we had a village there. We felt we all belonged together. I think it probably had to do with us filming in Vancouver," notes Tupper of all the actors being away from their normal home environment. "Anne is fun and she was the head of that show, and a show is always determined by the person leading it. We'd go out and go dancing and eat out a lot," he recalls. "One day, she hired someone to teach us how to make Vietnamese food. She also had a bartender come over and teach us how to make certain drinks. It was a lot of fun."

Luckily for Tupper, he has been able to keep up with most of the cast and he lives with Heche so that's never a problem. "So many of the actors live in New York so I get together with them frequently — probably more frequently than I do of the cast of 'Mercy,'" he admits. When it comes to his current job, though, Tupper certainly isn't complaining. "I tell you what, I like my job. I like getting up in the morning, getting in the van going to work; I like the people I work with, and I like my paycheck. I like it all."

CASTING CORNER: They're looking for the head Blue Meany, Jeremy Hillary Boob, Ph.D., and the old Lord Mayor of Pepperland for Robert Zemeckis' "Yellow Submarine" remake in motion-capture 3-D animation. The latter is described as "an ancient man with deep creases on his face." He should sound appropriately ancient as well.

Casting is under way for a spin-off of "Criminal Minds" that begins shooting mid-February. Characters include Mick, a Cambridge-educated 30-year-old former British Special Forces operative who is an expert survivalist and sniper; former L.A. gang banger Croc, whose past includes prison and a born-again conversion; team leader Cooper, 45-55 years old — they're looking at all ethnicities; Gina, who rose above a tough urban background to become the first person in her family to go to college and became such a star that she was recruited by the FBI — which quickly took advantage of her street savvy and used her undercover.

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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