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Ice Cube: ‘I Make My Presence Known’ on TV

Ice Cube feels like he got the best of both worlds — as actor and executive producer — with TBS's June 2-debuting series spinoff of his hit "Are We There Yet?" big-screen comedies. He tells us that Revolution Studios chieftain Joe Roth "wanted to do a third movie, but I really didn't want to do that, artistically. Then he said, 'Let's take it to TV.'"

When "Everybody Hates Chris'" Terry Crews and "Half & Half's" Essence Atkins started talking about taking over his and Nia Long's roles as Nick and Suzanne from the movies, "I got really interested," says Cube.

Although he isn't starring in "Are We There Yet?" Cube makes it clear his character is more than a fleeting visitor. "I pop in every now and then like a hurricane. I make my presence known. I play Suzanne's brother. He's overprotective. He saw her get hurt once, and he's not going to let Nick or any man do it again. Him and Nick don't see eye to eye. There's conflict there. It's a good story," says the multi-talent, whose character is a SWAT team member.

"It was kind of cool to be able to do a sitcom and not just have a little cameo, but a role with some real meat on it, that's different from what people have seen me do," adds Cube. He tells us he worked in an overseer capacity behind the scenes, while others "did the heavy lifting."

With the first 10 "Are We There Yet?" episodes in the can, and the "Straight Outta L.A." ESPN movie documentary he directed just launched earlier this week, Cube has a full summer ahead, including a 22-date tour with Limp Bizkit before beginning starring stints with Woody Harrelson in the big-screen drama "Rampart" late in the season.

Rapping Ice Cube and rocking Limp Bizkit don't make for the first combination that would come to a lot of music fans' minds — but the former N.W.A. lead reminds that his relationship with Bizkit frontman Fred Durst and the band goes way back.

"We went out together years ago on the Family Values tour with Korn. And Fred directed me in a movie I did, 'The Longshots.' He did a great job. He's a great director," says Cube. "Before he did the movie, I said, 'You still in rock and roll, man?' And he said, 'No, I'm going to be a director.' Then I hear he's setting tour dates," he notes with a laugh. That's a man of many hats after his own heart.

IN WITH THE NEW: Tim Allen seems to have moved beyond the disappointing fate of his highly star-studded (Sigourney Weaver, Ray Liotta, Allen himself ...) comedy "Crazy On the Outside" that debuted and quickly fizzled a few months ago. Allen produced and directed it himself.

"It's a wonderful movie with tons of great actors," he tells this column. "It came out right when the stock market crashed. I didn't want to shelve it so Target partnered up with us. It's available only at Target. This is the modern Hollywood. It's a different way to do things."

'Course, there won't be a need for such creative marketing with his next picture, the highly anticipated June 18 "Toy Story 3."

"I can't tell you about it, but it's absolutely wonderful," says Allen. "It's everything you want from an exciting and big movie, and it really pulls at your heartstrings. I'm very grateful to be a part of it."

HE KNOWS: Look for bombshells to start dropping on Edie Falco's "Nurse Jackie" as the Showtime show heads toward its June 7 season finale. "It gets even more intense, building up to a reveal of some of the secrets. You know, she has so many, you have to take them one at a time," informs Falco's series husband, Dominic Fumusa. "But you don't want to get there too quickly," adds the actor with delight.

His character, Kevin, spent the entire first season "100 percent oblivious" to his wife's drug addictions and adultery. Now, "I love it because there are so many more colors to play with. I got to go darker."

Playing the cuckold has won him "interesting reactions" from fans. "A lot of people are very kind to Kevin. They say, 'This is crazy. How can she be doing this?' Other people's reactions are more like, 'How can he possibly be so clueless about his wife?' Hey, there are people out there who ARE that clueless" when it comes to their partners cheating on them, he points out.

"With Kevin, they had to establish the domestic bliss to counterbalance Jackie's life at the hospital, her addiction to drugs. He's not a doormat, not stupid ... I think what's really fascinating is, obviously, Jackie has a great life at home. The addiction is only the covering up of something that lies beneath, something that's painful and interesting. It makes for good drama, good acting," he says. "What is that something?"

He won't be getting the answer to that question any time soon. Right now, Fumusa is busy with Sarah Ruhl's "Passion Play" on the New York stage. The "Nurse Jackie" troops won't be mustering for production again till September.

IT'S A VAST CONSPIRACY: Wrestler cum governor cum reality TV star Jesse Ventura is started production on eight new episodes of his "Conspiracy Theory" show, with a possible order for two more. Casting forces on the truTV series have been talking to prospects to join the show as investigators. They must be in their 20s or 30s, with the male described as a "hard-boiled truth seeker."

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster


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