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Matt Walsh: Conan Will Wind Up Better Off

hollywoodexclusive1"Nurse Jackie" series star Edie Falco acknowledges that "I have flirted with guilt" about being a single working mother, but notes, "I've been in therapy since the beginning of time, so I found a place where I can talk and realize I have no room for guilt. No energy for it. Those days are behind me."

She wants us to know that her adopted children — son Anderson, 5, and daughter Macy, 2 — "have a spectacular life. What they get is me when I'm home, when I have the energy. When I'm away, I'm doing something I love. I couldn't not work, and when I am working, I have spectacular people caring for the kids, or they're with me on the soundstage, which is like their second home."

The children usually get full-time mommy time eight months a year, when the hit Showtime program "Nurse Jackie" isn't shooting. This May, however, Falco will be spending evenings on stage at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, starring in the British stage hit "This Wide Night," a portrayal of two women trying to start over after release from prison. The decision about Falco's co-star should be made soon.

With the second season of her critically acclaimed "Nurse Jackie" due to unfurl the first of 12 episodes on March 22, Falco is rooting for a third season, but acknowledges, "I have no idea about the future of the series. I'm waiting for the phone call."

She also says she has no idea where the travails of Nurse Jackie will eventually take the character. Last season of "Nurse Jackie" concluded with the pharmacist, with whom she's been having an affair for easy access to the pills to which she is addicted, learning she is a wife and mother. Could that lead to her eventually being forced to confront her demons?

Falco, who fought alcoholism for years, responds, "Every addict and alcoholic has a different level of madness and tolerance. How hard is it to overcome a problem? It all depends in how ingrained your problems are in your daily life. For instance, if you are an alcoholic who works in a bar, you might have to find another job. For Nurse Jackie to quit drug use, when she has such easy access to drugs, well, some addict nurses may have to quit their jobs."

Which could lead where? "To 'Plumber Jackie'?" she responds with a laugh.

BETTER DAYS AHEAD: Matt Walsh, one of the co-founding members of the Upright Citizens Brigade, has been a long-time collaborator with Conan O'Brien and he thinks the comedic host is better off these days.

"My hope is that he'll land in a better position at the end of the day. I don't know how his negotiations are going. I think he'll end up getting another show. He may end up on a network that will let him be more free and he won't have the history and constraints of 'The Tonight Show' to fulfill. It will be more about his personality and his identity," says Walsh. "A lot of America rallied around him and it garnered support. In a weird way, the crisis kind of brought a stronger passion for him. I think he will end up in a better way."

Things are certainly going well on Walsh's end, as he is set to premiere to his new show, "Players," March 2 on Spike TV. "It's based on my experiences of working in a sports bar in Chicago years ago. I worked at a place where two brothers ran it. They were two very different personalities," he says of the show's premise, which is mostly improvised. "It's kind of a bad idea to run a family business because it becomes personal so it's about these two brothers trying to remain friendly," explains Walsh. "The characters have some really awful traits, but we're not trying to be like a traditional sitcom. You don't learn a lesson every episode. I don't think it's a network show so it benefits from being on cable. Luckily, Spike has given us complete freedom. They allow us to really tell our stories, which is nice."

AVAST YE HOPEFULS: With shooting on the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" film set for June in Hawaii with Rob Marshall directing, casting is underway for the characters who'll join Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in his first film go-round without Will Tucker and Elizabeth Swan, since Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley have opted out of the franchise. Among the parts: Philippe, a young missionary priest that they're planning to cast with a European or Australian actor. And Serena, a very beautiful ... mermaid.

And they're rounding out the cast of Will Ferrell's "Everything Must Go," including those of his wife, son and neighbors. This is the dark dramedy from a Raymond Carver story ("Why Don't You Dance"), about a guy who relapses into alcoholism, loses his family and then attempts to sell all he has in a yard sale. Ferrell is taking $10 million — reportedly half his normal fee — to do the indie. Production has been set for a mid-March start.

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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