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Holly Madison Living Large and Likes Being in Charge

Holly Madison likes being in the driver's seat. The bottle-blond beauty, who rose to notoriety as one of Hugh Hefner's girlfriends on the hit "Girls Next Door" show, has her own "Holly's World" E! series premiering Sunday (6/13). And she's happy to say, "I definitely have more control this time, as a co-executive producer, and it's great."

The half-hour show, which was teased with an opening segment back in December, has Madison hastening back and forth between her work as star of the Las Vegas Peepshow strip revue and partying, more partying, other activities and partying — supported by her assistant, Angel; her roommate, Laura; and her male buddy, Josh.

"I was pretty adamant which characters I wanted on the show, which people keep it real with me," she tells us. "I always thought Laura and Angel would be great, and Josh — he really pops onscreen."

As for what she wanted to do with the show, "Just capture more reality, capture the day to day, and definitely the drama moments. You can't prescript all the time. My main thing is I just want to keep the spontaneity of the show."

Life has "been pretty crazy" all year for the 30-year-old Madison, "juggling everything with doing a show onstage six nights a week."

Asked about how she keeps her 36D-23-36 body in perfect shape, she laughs. "Doing a cardio workout for two hours a night really helps."

There's also the book she's preparing for fall release, a unique travel guide to her adopted hometown. "I absolutely love Las Vegas. It's like a small town with all the energy of a huge big city. My book is really more for people in my demographic — 18-34 — with not only Vegas history, but a guide to things to do."

Speaking of things to do, we notice reports that she had her Playboy logo tattoo, that used to ride on her lower back, removed. Was that due to sad memories?

"I had to cover it for everything I do, cover it with really heavy makeup, and I got tired of that," she says.

THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: "Drop Dead Diva" star Brooke Elliott reports that the just-launched second season of her Lifetime series is at least as star-studded as the first season was, or more. Viewers can expect to see Leelee Sobieski, Robin Givens, Jasmine Guy, Rosie O'Donnell back in her judge character, plus Sharon Lawrence and Kurt Fuller as Elliott's parents, plus Cybill Shepherd. "She was a riot and so much fun," says Elliott. "She plays a character that's sort of like Meryl Streep's in 'The Devil Wears Prada.'

"They're all so great. We're so humbled by the fact they want to come play with us," she adds.

Elliott's ability to make her insanely complex role work is crucial — as viewers of the series, and critics, are well aware. How many actresses could convince us they're a ditzy model who came back from heaven and is inhabiting the body of a zaftig crusading attorney who has left residual personality traits behind? But the Broadway-bred actress remains quite modest-sounding about the impact she's made. The network's website and other "Diva"-related comment areas are full of grateful remarks from fans who love the series' approach to body image. "It's wonderful to hear. When people talk to me about the show, they're so polite and kind," Elliott says.

Playing Deb the model/Jane the attorney "does take a tremendous amount of focus, to be sure," she allows. "There are always questions to figure out about when Jane is influencing Deb's behavior. I'm always making sure everything is seen from Deb's perspective. It's one of the tricky parts of the job and the most fun."

ANSWERING THE CALL: John Morris says he was literally walking between classes on the UCLA Campus, coming out of Macgowan Hall, the theater arts building, when his cell phone rang four years ago, and it was Pixar's Kevin Reher, calling out of the blue. Reher told him his old gang was interested in getting him to re-up as Andy, the boy to whom Woody, Buzz and the rest of the toys belong in the "Toy Story" movies, for "Toy Story 3."

"They had to track me down," recalls Morris, now 25. "It had been eight or nine years since 'Toy Story 2,' so when he said, 'We'd love to have you come in and see where your voice is,' I was amazed and thrilled. I found out that Andy is now 18 and about to go to college, and I felt pretty confident that I could play that, since I was just finishing college myself. When I came in, the directors explained that maintaining continuity as much as possible with the cast was important to them."

Morris started the first "Toy Story" when he was 7, so "this has been going on the majority of my life," he points out. He wound up going in for recording duties in Los Angeles, and later, in New York — where he moved for two years — and finally, back in San Francisco, his first and current home town, a quick drive to Pixar headquarters. Having graduated in 2007, he aims to continue doing voice work, as well as theater and who knows what else. He comments, "With a lot of other trilogies, the movies have come out more back to back, every few years. But 'Toy Story' has had this incredibly epic time line, and that's made it even more special in a way because kids have grown up with it in real time."

Starting with John Morris.

HIS WAY: Country heartthrob Blake Shelton recalls, "The first time I ever got onstage, I was 8 years old. I loved it then, but it wasn't really till I was 15 that performing became a really big deal to me, more so than any other kid around me. I started playing in bars and writing songs — no clue of what I was doing, just doing it." He says that "looking back, the best thing I did was, two weeks after high school graduation, I moved to Nashville." Oddly enough, though, his first record producer, and the man who gave Shelton his first big break, Bobby Braddock, didn't get with him as a result of his Nashville move. "He heard me sing on the phone the first time. He became interested in my singing just over my work tape."

COPYRIGHT 2010 MARILYN BECK AND STACY JENEL SMITH
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