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Bryan Cranston: ‘Breaking Bad’ is Being Turned ‘Upside Down’

hollywoodexclusive1Bryan Cranston, who's earned two Emmys for his work on "Breaking Bad," tips that the third season of the highly lauded AMC show will be "like a million-piece puzzle that's hiding the picture on the box."

Cranston, who directs the March 21 season-opener, reveals that as the story progresses this year, "The very structure of the show is turned upside down." His character, science teacher Walter White, who started cooking crystal methamphetamine to make big money to support his family when he learned he had terminal lung cancer, has been keeping his double life secret. "Yet the one thing that can't happen does happen. His wife finds out and all is lost," Cranston says. "He must make amends, live with the fallout of his actions and try to win his wife back and to reconcile who his is."

That might be, but make no mistake that drugs won't still be a vital part of the story, as will Aaron Paul, who plays Walter's former student who's teamed up with his one-time teacher in the drug trade.

Cranston, who counts his role as the father in "Malcolm in the Middle" among his many credits, notes how flawed many television heroes have become today. Among them: Denis Leary as an alcoholic fireman in "Rescue Me," Edie Falco as a cheating, drug-addicted wife in "Nurse Jackie," and murderers and such in "Sons of Anarchy."

The way Cranston has figured it out, "In the old days, the leading man was handsome, never drank, didn't abuse drugs, always figured out what his problems were and solved them. But today, we are accepting more sophisticated storytelling — more honest portrayals of the human experience."

MAKING IT HAPPEN: Robert David Hall, aka "CSI's" coroner Al Robbins, is about to unveil "Things They Don't Teach You in School" — a bluesy Americana-style labor of love he recorded last summer in Austin, with "some of the best sidemen in the business." He tells us, "I've been a musician and a singer almost all my life, but it just sort of faded." Then, "My baby brother came down with cancer, liver cancer. He's 46." His brother's battle awakened Hall to the fact that none of us has unlimited time to accomplish "that secret list of things we want to do in life" — and sparked him to get busy.

"I'm a good musician. I think I'm a good writer. I have no illusions. I just hope that people who check this out will enjoy it," says Hall, who wrote seven of the songs on "Things They Don't Teach You in School" and co-wrote two more. Samples of his enjoyable folksy fare can be checked out at his robertdavidhallmusic.com website.

Meanwhile, Hall, a mighty multi-tasker if there ever was one, continues his "CSI" duties as well as his leadership roles as an advocate for people with disabilities — as well as being among the founding fathers of the Screen Actors Guild's iActor online casting database. It allows "all paid members to upload their reels, headshots and resume information. It's a place where casting people can look and know that they have (a) paid-up union member."

EXPANDING HORIZONS: Lea Thompson is moving forward with preproduction on her "Damaged Goods" project — that will have the "Jane Doe" mysteries and former "Caroline in the City" star behind the cameras, as a director. Though Thompson's directed herself in "Jane Doe" movies, this will be her first shot at helming a big-screen romantic comedy. It's about a high-flying, chic Malibu lifestyle guru who finds herself falling for a guy who operates a used furniture store in New Mexico and, well, owns chickens. Can love prevail? James Denton is cast and subsidiary roles are being filled now.

CASTING CORNER: Now that the applause has had a chance to die down since the announcement that Kate Winslet will star in a remake of "Mildred Pierce" as an HBO miniseries, there are questions to be asked. First, who'll play the key role of Veda — the selfish ingrate daughter that tenacious businesswoman Mildred can't please. Casting forces are working on that one now. The role won Ann Blyth an Oscar nomination for the 1945 feature — which, of course, netted Joan Crawford a Best Actress statuette.

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.

COPYRIGHT 2010 MARILYN BECK AND STACY JENEL SMITH

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