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Timothy Hutton’s ‘Leverage’ Character Will Clean Up

Timothy Hutton's character on TNT's "Leverage" will be cleaning up his act again as the third season of the show gets under way.

Hutton, who leads a team of expert criminals in the Robin Hood-style adventure yarn, will be leaving his alcoholism behind when the third season of the show launches June 20. Says the actor of his Nathan Ford character, "Last season, he tried to give up drinking, but it didn't last. This season, he's definitely off the bottle. In the past, he would deal with his problems by going back on the bottle. Now he wants to be a good leader and to stay sober."

How long that will last is questionable. Says Hutton, "Some mysterious figure comes out of the shadow about a month into the new season, and that might unravel Nate again. He's a person Nate would rather not see, and he plays such a big part in the story that the show is trying to keep his story a secret for now."

Hutton recently won a Prism Award for his accurate depiction of a character that's been described in the past as "a functioning alcoholic."

Asked why he feels so many of the lead characters on TV series ("Nurse Jackie," "Breaking Bad," "House," etc.) are flawed, he notes, "It's a reflection of life — people can identify with such problems. They're the same issues regular people go through."

'SPECIAL' VIEWING: Esteemed filmmaker Richard Loncraine reports that his "The Special Relationship" movie — debuting on HBO tomorrow (5/29) — is being released theatrically in countries around the globe, save for the United Kingdom, where it will be shown on the BBC.

"It will be interesting to see how a cinema audience accepts this subject," he says of the drama that sheds behind-the-scenes light on the relationship between President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair in the '90s. "Is it the kind of film people will spend money on a babysitter to go see?"

With dazzling performances by Dennis Quaid as Clinton, Michael Sheen as Blair, Hope Davis as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Helen McCrory as Cherie Blair, "The Special Relationship" will undoubtedly be remembered at awards time. However, Loncraine doubts it could have gotten made for the big screen "in the present studio or independent film environment."

He feels the same way about his Emmy-laden "Band of Brothers" and "The Gathering Storm" as well. "This is the fourth film I've done for HBO, and they've been a real pleasure," adds the director, whose feature credits include such fare as "The Missionary," "Richard III," "Firewall" and 'My One and Only."

He candidly tells us that "The Special Relationship" "really wasn't much of a challenge for me, to be honest. It was an odd one for me. Peter Morgan decided directing wasn't for him on this project, and I came in four weeks before principle photography," he reminds, referring to the play- and screenwriter, who'd been planning to make his directing debut with the cable film. "Usually, directors have been working six months on a production before shooting starts, the last three months of which are very stressful and involve things like not enough money, or arguing with the studio. I didn't have any of that, so I wasn't as exhausted as directors usually are."

He points out that HBO insisted everything be vetted for accuracy, which he did find demanding, especially since "I'm not a particularly political animal." Much of the material was new to him, in fact. "I was struck by the realization that without Clinton's infidelity, the world would be a different place today. Obviously, it was harmful to his wife and family, but it wasn't like he declared war on South America. It's stunning to think that such a relatively small event had such enormous repercussions from then on."

MEANINGFUL DAY: Joe Mantegna, who marks his ninth year of hosting PBS's National Memorial Day Concert before a crowd of hundreds of thousands on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol this weekend, has been met with much appreciation from veterans, active service members and their loved ones. But he's not one to take thank-yous for his participation in the music-filled event that celebrates and memorializes the sacrifices made by troops past and present.

"I mean, look, there's no reason to thank us. The whole point of this is to thank them. I realize this is probably the most important thing I do all year," says the "Criminal Minds" star.

"The fact I have a career and have a good life and all that is due to the fact that we have people in the military who've been out there protecting us. There's nothing to thank us about. I'm glad to do it."

For the fifth year in a row, he co-hosts with pal Gary Sinise. This year's event (check local listings) will include Lionel Richie, Brad Paisley, Blythe Danner, Dennis Haysbert, Yolanda Adams and Colin Powell.

THE VROOM VROOM ROOM: Supermodel-turned-super-mogul Kathy Ireland has now turned to the world of super motors. She has become the most recent celeb (David Letterman and the late Paul Newman come to mind) to become part owner of a major racing team — and car 43 will be carrying her brand out onto the Indie 500 this Sunday (5/30) with none other than John Andretti at the wheel. The Kathy Ireland Home division of her Kathy Ireland Worldwide design and marketing empire is joining racing legend Richard Petty and Window World as sponsors of this top Memorial Day 500 entry.

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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