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Satisfying Times at Work and at Home for Lily Tomlin

hollywoodexclusive1Lily Tomlin is heading to New York to shoot the 11th episode of this season's "Damages," and says, "I can't wait to learn what my character is up to."

As fans of the hit FX series know, Tomlin is playing the wife of a man whose exploits bring to mind Bernie Madoff and his billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, and she reveals, "I haven't seen the script for any of the segments we'll be shooting. I probably won't until the last minute. None of us in the cast ever knows what the writers will do. They're following an arc, but watch to see how the actors react to the scripts. I always want to leave the impression they can expect anything of my character. I just hope they don't allow her to be a long-suffering wife. I want her to have a bad streak,"

Tomlin says she's lucky. "I never invested with Bernie Madoff, never even knew who he was until the scandal broke. But I have a couple of friends, a husband and wife who are writers, not people who had a lot of money, who lost everything to Madoff."

Tomlin also feels lucky in love. In March, she'll be celebrating her 39th anniversary of togetherness with her partner in life and career, writer Jane Wagner. Although they've reportedly only been open about the relationship for the last few years, Tomlin notes, "I never called a press conference or anything like that, but in the industry, Jane and I always lived very openly. If people were oppressive of us, I wasn't conscious of it or don't remember if I was. Funny thing about me, I'm not too long on hard feelings."

Tomlin says that she and Wagner have no wish to marry. "We've been together too long. And we're not religious — not that you have to be, but it's important to people who want to marry in church. The truth is that rituals don't mean a lot to us, just the ones we invent. Besides, if we did stage a wedding, I don't think Jane would get there on time. We call her Maybe Jane — maybe she'll show up if we're going someplace. I give her that flexibility."

TWO STARS IN ONE: "In Plain Sight" actor Cristian de la Fuente is shuttling between his USA Network series shooting in Albuquerque, and work on his "Corazon Salvaje" Univision series in Mexico City — "which is exhausting, but also great, you know? When you're exhausted because you're working, it's better than when you're exhausted from finding work. So I can't complain. Things have been very good. I have a show in Spanish and a show in English," notes the hot Chilean actor, who is also remembered for his fancy footwork on "Dancing With the Stars."

In "Corazon," de la Fuente is barely recognizable as the same actor who plays Mary McCormack's ex-baseball player fiance in "In Plain Sight." He sports long hair and sideburns for his role as a wealthy 1880s land owner who rides around on horseback looking dashing in the romantic period piece.

What de la Fuente doesn't have time for right now is a book tour, despite the fact he has a book coming out — "Hot, Passionate and Illegal? Why (Almost) Everything You Thought About Latinos Just May Be True." He wrote it with Federico Larino, a buddy who's head writer for a late-night comedy show in Mexico. "We had this idea to write a book about Latinos in the States, how things have happened to him and to me. Most Americans think we are all from the same place. Everybody thinks we are all from Mexico, or all from the south, and it's like Latinolandia — where Latinos come from," he observes. "There are even those who don't know people from Brazil speak Portuguese, and there's this confusion."

Yes, embarrassingly enough, that is true. Adds de la Fuente (who is also a member of the Chilean Air Force Reserves' aerobatic squadron), "The book is facts, like a manual, mixed with humor and life experiences."

CAN'T DUCK THE REDUX: Not that Hollywood ever stops dusting off its more successful fare and remaking it, but we're in the thick of a veritable remake-athon right now. On the big-screen side, there's "True Grit," as in the remake of John Wayne's 1969 Western, only this time it's Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn, with a cast also including Matt Damon and Josh Brolin for Joel and Ethan Coen. That flick rolls next month.

Also being remade is "The Thing," as in the 1951 and 1982 creature features. You can't keep a good thing down, after all.

On the small-screen side — good grief — in addition to the new "Rockford Files" that is on the way, CBS is doing a new "Hawaii Five-0" (will McGarrett still be the only guy on the islands wearing a suit and tie wherever he goes?). There's also a new "Nikita" — as in "La Femme Nikita" — in the works. And Universal is finally doing their series version of England's beloved "Prime Suspect."

Seems like old times, all right. Who needs a time machine?

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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