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Lauren Gottlieb on ‘Glee,’ ‘SYTYCD’ — And Working with Cruises

hollywoodexclusive1Lauren Gottlieb on 'Glee,' 'SYTYCD' — And Working with Cruises/Daniel Sunjata: Not So Hard To Say Goodbye to 'Rescue Me'

Talk about hot! "So You Think You Can Dance" All Star and "Glee" performer Lauren Gottlieb just found herself having to turn down the soon-to-begin "Glee" four-city live tour due to her overloaded schedule. And while she was making that decision, she was busy helping prep Katie Holmes for her dance performance over the weekend at the Motion Picture & Television Fund's "A Fine Romance" benefit on the Fox lot.

The super-talented 21-year-old wants us to know she considers Holmes a terrific dancer. "I'm working with Tom as well. I can't really talk about that yet," she told us before the event. But she could say that the Cruises "are the most amazing, adorable family."

Especially Suri. "She's dancing on the side, and I keep trying to teach her little things. (Holmes) likes it that she's growing up sort of in-studio, thinking, 'This is what you do when you grow up.' She's 4 years old, and she talks like she's older than I am. She's so grown up already. She respects everybody, and she doesn't really cause too much chaos in the room."

But getting back to her "Glee" decision — "I was kind of bummed," admits Gottlieb, who plays a member of the rival glee club on the gigantic Fox hit. "The dates probably would have fit, but I feel I know what is about to happen with 'So You Think You Can Dance.' You've got to be in the best shape ever, to be on top of it. I had the gut feeling that going out on the road and all that (it) involves wouldn't have been the best thing to do now, and I've learned to go with my gut. Still, I hated to turn it down. I hope I made the right decision."

Meanwhile, with the premiere of Season 7 of that other gigantic Fox hit, "SYTYCD," coming up May 27, Gottlieb expects to be caught up "24/7" as she and the other returning All Stars work with the top 10 new contestants.

"I'm stoked. I think it's going to be totally amazing. We'll be with the top five guys and top five girls only — the best of the best, training and really getting into it like a boot camp." And, not unlike the pros on "Dancing With the Stars," the All Stars "don't get kicked off, which is a plus, and we don't get judged."

It will be demanding. "Just knowing how it was when I was on the show in Season 3, the pattern that we had with an 8 a.m. rehearsal for two hours, then going for wardrobe fittings and something to eat, and then rehearsals for another dance number, and then another costume fitting, all definitely with the same partner. Now all the All Stars may be dancing twice in one episode, but not necessarily with the same person."

NOT SO HARD TO SAY GOODBYE: Daniel Sunjata tells us that he's certainly game to continue portraying Patricia Cornwell's Win Garano, since he enjoyed bringing the popular Massachusetts State Police detective character to life in back-to-back TV movies that aired last month on Lifetime. "But it's just speculation at this point whether or not there will be more," he notes.

The actor has been busy working on the final two seasons of "Rescue Me" as firefighter Franco Rivera. They'll wrap for good this month, and "I wouldn't even say I have mixed feelings about that. My feelings are very clear: I'm happy for the opportunity to do 'Rescue Me,' but I'm definitely ready to move on and show my range," he says.

Sunjata, who attained his master's degree from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, says his heart's desire is to return to his acting roots. "It's often been said that if your training is in the theater and you stay away too long, your acting muscles start to atrophy. If I could make the same amount of money on stage that I do on television or film, I would probably only work on stage."

THAT'S DEDICATION: Just because Iliza Shlesinger won on "Last Comic Standing" a couple of years back — becoming the show's first female winner, no less — and just because she had her own half-hour special on Comedy Central last month, that doesn't mean she can let up on her hot pursuit of a big-time career. "I'm working on a book, auditioning a lot for pilot season and working on an hour special by the end of the year. I'm also performing one to three shows a night, and I'm constantly on the road so I can definitely feel my stuff becoming a lot more polished. For me, it's about not stopping. I'm throwing everything I can against the wall and seeing what sticks."

SOUTHERN FLAVOR: Debbie Allen is hot and heavy into auditions for her "Twist" musical in Atlanta — that's the musical twist on the old Dickens story, written by "The Wiz" author William F. Brown, that places the familiar tale in jazz-age New Orleans. Allen is shaking up the musical, originally presented in 1993, in her own special way for its Alliance Theatre debut in September.

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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