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Joey Fatone Frets About Looks on ‘Dancing With the Stars’

When Joey Fatone appears on tonight's (5/18) "Dancing With the Stars," the first thing he plans to do is apologize for his appearance.

"My beard is scruffy and nasty. I haven't lost any weight because I'm doing this film," explains the one-time NSYNC member cum actor, who rushed from Rhode Island shooting on the big-screen horror flick, "Inkubus" (sic) to L.A. for a quick weekend's worth of training. He'll dance with fellow former "DWTS" contestant Melissa Rycroft in the special segment.

"I always loved doing 'Dancing With the Stars.' Now people are going to see me dancing around with Melissa. It's great I'm not getting judged on it. Whatever happens, happens," says Fatone, who is releasing a new single called "Radio" today as well.

"It's an up-tempo summer jam. It's power pop," he says.

Fatone will also be seen on this Saturday's (5/22) edition of Playhouse Disney's "Imagination Movers" as a baseball player torn between his need to play in a big game and desire to be present for his son's birthday. "His team is counting on him, and his boy is counting on him. They try different solutions, like Speedy Shoes, that don't work out that well, but in the end, things do get resolved," he says.

He really must be self-conscious about his weight these days because he candidly volunteers, "I'm in no shape to be a baseball player. I look maybe like Babe Ruth back in the day."

With 9-year-old and 4-month-old daughters at home, he's happy about doing the kiddie show. It couldn't be much further away on the spectrum from his movie work of the moment. The currently shooting "Inkubus" — with Robert Englund, William Forsythe and Jonathan Silverman in the cast — marks his first chiller.

"It's a different vibe from comedy, obviously, a different kind of thing for me. It's been awesome. I'm a huge fan of Robert Englund's, 'Halloween' and all that stuff," adds Fatone. "You know that variety is the spice of life. You've got to keep it fresh, keep evolving and challenging yourself."

He plays a cop on his last night at a precinct house that's about to be shut down. A chubby cop, apparently. And once it's done, well, sounds like time for a diet.

YOU HAD TO BE THERE: "So You Think You Can Dance's" Lauren Gottlieb tells us that her family really wasn't able to understand just how intense her schedule is these days until her mother came for a long visit.

"I try to call as much as I can. We're super close. But even when I have a free second, I'm staying focused, getting ready for the next audition or whatever," relates the multi-talented performer. "It was really hard for a while. Then she came out and stayed with me for a week a few months ago, and by the end of the week, she was like, 'Holy crap! I get it now.'" Season 7 of "SYTYCD" is coming up May 27.

Gottlieb, who has guested on "Ghost Whisperer," intends to expand her acting work and to "get into singing. I have a producer friend who actually helped start Hilary Duff and Mandy Moore into music," she says of producer Ty Stevens. Eventually, she says, "I'd like to create shows, travel around, have my own dancers — put on Michael Jackson kind of shows."

THE BIG-SCREEN SCENE: With Gerard Butler's "Machine Gun Preacher" heading toward a mid-July production start and Michelle Monaghan and Michael Shannon set to co-star, they're busy casting just about everyone else in the epic drama. This is the drawn-from-life saga of Sam Childers, who was a violent drug addict until he found God and underwent a complete conversion — eventually heeding the calling to go to Uganda and Sudan to protect children in the midst of the genocide. Shooting will take place in Michigan and South Africa.

Casting is under way for "Don't Stand So Close," the latest from "The Hitcher" horror maker Eric Red. It's about a high school boy who has a scorching hot affair with his English teacher, only to find that she's a homicidal sociopath. Let this be a warning, boys.

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