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Lisa Kudrow: The Challenge of Playing It Straight

hollywoodexclusive1Megan Mullally is delighted with her latest show, "Party Down," and considers her character one of her favorite roles. Now she just hopes more people find the network.

"We're just trying to get everybody to get Starz. The show has gotten so much critical acclaim, but so many people don't have Starz," notes Mullally of the cable network. "The guy who ran HBO for 17 years just took over so they have a chance now to really turn it into something. They also just released season one on DVD, so that helps."

In the second season, launching tomorrow night (4/23), Mullally makes her debut as a middle-aged refugee from a lousy marriage who moves to Hollywood in hopes that her 13-year-old daughter will make it big. The show takes us into the crazy world of wannabe actors, writers and others who work as caterers for fancy Hollywood events while awaiting their big breaks. "My husband and I happened to stumble upon the show the first season. We were like, 'This show is so good. What is the deal?'" she recalls. "Then when Jane (Lynch) left to go do 'Glee' it left this space that they needed to fill and they wrote a new character. When they called, I instantly said yes. I think it's the best half-hour show on cable, hands down."

Meanwhile, fear not, "Will & Grace" fans. When she's not busy partying down, Mullally continues working on her planned "Karen: the Musical" that promises to bring back to life her self-centered Karen Walker character from the classic sitcom.

"It will be a touring show where Karen and Beverly Leslie will have a big throw down," she says of her and Leslie Jordan's infamous "Will & Grace" characters. "I think it will be a lot of fun. Leslie has done so much theater that I thought it was perfect."

It will certainly make those "Will & Grace" fans happy, who still can't get enough of Karen's wicked ways. "I think it's nice to be associated with that show, and I'm sure I always will be," says Mullally. "I still keep in close contact with everybody, and we're proud to have been a part of such a great show."

THE BIG-SCREEN SCENE: Funny woman Lisa Kudrow got the chance to show off her serious acting chops in the movie "Paper Man," hitting theaters tomorrow (4/23), and she admits it was quite different from what she's used to doing.

"It's strange to be in something where there is comedy and you don't have anything to do with it. Sometimes, I would have a moment of, like, 'Wait. Did I miss something all along? Was I supposed to turn the funny switch on? No? OK,'" says Kudrow with a laugh.

In the flick, Kudrow plays the wife of Jeff Daniels, who is a washed-up writer with an imaginary superhero friend, portrayed by Ryan Reynolds. "I really liked the script. I was anxious to see how they were going to pull it off, especially with the imaginary friend. I also liked the complicated relationship between the husband and wife — that commitment to the one you love," she explains. "This guy has been a burden for a long time. Somebody goes through a rough patch, and that's no big deal, but this has been going on for years, and she's tried to help him. It deals with personal disappointment because he didn't turn out to be the successful novelist she thought she was marrying."

Kudrow also recently got the chance to team up with her former "Friends" co-star Courteney Cox on "Cougar Town," which Kudrow tells us was a real treat.

"That was great fun. It was like we didn't skip a beat. It was such a nice surprise. Even though they were different characters, I was sitting there across from her, and it was so comfortable and familiar," she says. "Other than that, we try to keep in touch, but it's hard because we're so busy."

SPECIALTY ACTS: With the late May production start of "Water for Elephants" fast approaching, casting forces on the period circus film starring Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz are busy filling out their big-top family. Among the colorful performers to be added to the cast are jugglers, stilt walkers, a 400-pound white woman, burlesque girls, sword swallowers, an escape artist, a tattooed man and a woman whose entire body is tattooed (Jesse James and mistress No. 1 perhaps?), a bald man, fire-breathers, contortionists and ... a woman with a really long neck.

And while we're at it, they're already on the lookout for specialty acts to fill out the roster of performers for Jerry Lewis' MDA Labor Day telethon. Maybe they should just go over to the "Water for Elephants" set and see whom they can recruit.

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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