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‘Daily Show’ Obama Zingers Surprise Audience, Says Rory Albanese

hollywoodexclusive1What serves as both a shield and a publicity-generating mechanism, deflects responsibility, dodges legal trouble, garners oodles of public sympathy and career comeback opportunities, and can be exploited in an unlimited, multi-platform way?

Celebrity rehab, of course!

No wonder so many are rushing to check into their favorite $24,000-$75,000-per-month rehab center. Is anyone surprised that, now that his multiple mistresses have been exposed, Jesse James has gone the sex rehab route at a facility in Arizona, trying to save his marriage to Sandra Bullock? After all, rehab was First Stop on the Image-Rebuilding Train for Tiger Woods.

Or that Charlie Sheen is already back working on a closed "Two and a Half Men" set after his three-week "preventative" rehab stint? Being rehabilitated for something you have not done makes sense in the land of legalese, as in morals clauses in one's contract, we guess. Let's hope it's not the modern answer to the Middle Ages' selling of indulgences in advance of the commission of sins.

Don't get us wrong — it's great that famous personalities like Maureen McCormick, Ben Affleck and Robert Downey Jr., have beaten down their addiction demons with the help of rehab, and we applaud the good work that goes on at plush and not-so-plush centers alike. But you know things have gotten out of hand when you read treatment facility websites that boast of "lush grounds, tennis court, swimming pools, and hot tubs, with great outdoor activities located just across from Malibu beach" (Passages Malibu) or "a luxurious mountain retreat. Stunning views from each room help residents connect with their higher power" (Cirque Lodge).

Dr. Drew Pinsky — who shows up for every celebrity rehab just as attorney Gloria Allred shows up for every wronged female celebrity legal case — is up to three celebrity rehab reality shows. There are also A&E and TLC reality shows about addicts.

Addiction as entertainment, who'da thunk it? We're in a media landscape where Paddy Chayefsky's darkly satirical lines in "Network" about an executions show becoming a huge ratings-getter don't seem out of the realm of possibility anymore.

THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" has been surprising some of its audience of late, tweaking the Obama administration and various other Democrats — which means it's time to take a fresh look at "The Daily Show" for what it is, to hear the show's Rory Albanese tell it.

"I think people thought we were just this left-wing group that were going after the Bush administration, but in reality, we're the wise-asses in the back of the classroom making fun of the people in charge. At first, the audience was like, 'What are you doing?' but Obama was screwing up a lot so it was fun to change the tone of the show. None of us really have political allegiances," he adds. "We're just thinking about how we can make things funny."

Albanese makes things funny in his own first Comedy Central special, airing tonight (4/2). He tells us performing in front of his boss proved to be quite nerve-wracking. "I was extra nervous because a lot of family and friends were there as well as a lot of co-workers. With Jon Stewart standing in the back, you don't want to bomb," notes Albanese.

He says Stewart couldn't have been more supportive. "Before the show, he came by the green room to give me a pep talk. He gets comedy on every level — as a writer, as a producer and as a performer — so to have him in my corner is unbelievable. I work hard on his show, and I work hard in stand-up so I never want to let him down in either."

OH, BABY: The Disney Channel's "Good Luck Charlie" launches Sunday (4/4). Touted as more of a traditional family sitcom than a show geared toward kids alone, it has a trio of older siblings — teen stars Jason Dolley, Bridgit Mendler and Bradley Steven Perry — taking care of their baby sister while their parents are both at work.

Series mom Leigh-Allyn Baker admits, "When I entered into this, I was very cautious, wondering about working on a show with kids. I could never have guessed how much fun it would turn out to be. I love their energy, and it's just like a giggle fest 24/7."

Baker's the mother of a baby in real life, as well as on the show, and she says that when she brings son Griffin to work, her young cast mates help her with him. "He loves them all. I was glad I could take him," she says. "He was starting to be a shy baby who'd cry when people said 'Hi' to him." His teenage buddies have changed that.

Little Mia Talerico, who portrays the show's 9-month-old title baby, "Charlie," has met Griffin as well. "We all joke that theirs will be the true love story from our show, this little match," says Baker.

CASTING CORNER: Speaking of babies, casting forces are seeing candidates for the role of the baby in "The Astral" with Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson — 6-month-olds to younger-looking 2-year-olds. But stage parents, be forewarned: It's from the creators of "Paranormal Activity" and "Saw."

And actresses are being considered for one of the more "high concept" pilots on the boards this season. NBC's "In My Shoes" is a body switcheroo spotlighting a short-tempered high school teacher who — thanks to the work of two guardian angels — finds herself in the form of a poor single mother. Sounds like a variation on "Drop Dead Diva."

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

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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