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Michael Vartan Talks Taking Romantic Plunge

Ooh la la! "HawthoRNe" is doing a full court press with l'amour in the season of the TNT show launching Tuesday (6/22). According to Michael Vartan, the romance soon to break out between his and Jada Pinkett Smith's characters "feels like deep, intense love and passion — messy, dark and powerful.

"There are a lot of emotions running very deep between these characters. There is the obvious workplace conflict. There is all the history they have," he continues, speaking of his Dr. Tom Wakefield being chief of surgery and Smith's Christina Hawthorne being head of nursing at the fictional Virginia hospital where the show takes place. Tom, as viewers know, was also the physician who tried in vain to save her late husband's life.

"You can either go the 'Moonlighting' route and keep the characters apart for 17 years until the audience can't take anymore, which people have come to expect," Vartan observes, "or you can take a risk and just do it right away. The writers felt that getting these two together romantically would cause so much conflict it would be interesting and good for the show. It really feels like a different show this season."

Will Smith hangs out on the "HawthoRNe" set a lot. What's it like doing those sexy scenes with Mrs. Smith in that regard? And how about Vartan's fiancee, Lauren Skaar?

"Oh, she and Jada are totally cool with one another," he says. "They've had their powwow, I guess. It's part of the business. It's also television — a lot tamer than features."

As far as Will, Vartan gushes to such a degree it sounds like bromance time. "I'd like to say we're best friends, but that would be me exaggerating. He's a great guy and one of the nicest guys I know — so much nicer than he needs to be, if you know what I mean. I see him around fans, he truly extends himself ... I always like to spend time talking to him because I know he'll say something ridiculous that will make me laugh."

Vartan tells us that he and his beautiful blond bride-to-be, who works in real estate, have picked April 2, 2011 as their wedding date — even as his legions of female fans are adjusting to the news that the one-time "Alias" hunk is taken. "We're still looking around for the place," he says, "but it will definitely be in the Southern California area."

THE ONE THAT WE WANT: Olivia Newton-John, fresh from her too-funny cameo in the "Glee" season finale, will be all over the place again this July — due to Paramount's release of "Grease: Sing-A-Long," the studio-sanctioned version of the audience participation screenings fans have been organizing for years. Looking back on the making of the beloved musical, Newton-John admits, "I was 29 and worried that I didn't look young enough" to get away with playing a high school girl. She recounts to Entertainment Weekly, in the issue hitting stands tomorrow (6/18), that what obliterated her reservations was John Travolta visiting her at her home. "John and I had great chemistry from the first time we met," she says. "We're bonded forever on celluloid."

Making the movie certainly had its challenges. She recalls shooting the dance contest scene in a downtown L.A. high school with no air conditioning. "It was really hot. We were near an abattoir, so it was smelly, too. I was a little nervous to dance with John. He's a fantastic dancer. I hadn't seen 'Saturday Night Fever' at that time. If I had, I would have been totally intimidated."

"Grease" became a 1978 phenomenon, complete with a chart-topping soundtrack. "I don't think we ever imagined it would become so popular and go for so long," says Newton-John. "But every seven years or so, a new group of kids finds the movie."

Didi Conn, who played Frenchy, told EW about her immortal "Beauty School Dropout" number with Frankie Avalon. "I didn't have to act. He was so gorgeous. I'm drooling looking at it now ... I just remember his lips. He has the most beautiful lips. He still looks good!"

The mag also includes a look at where the "Grease" alumni are today.

LET'S GET PHYSICAL: Speaking of blasts from the past, 72-year-old Jane Fonda — who led millions into getting into super shape and buying leg warmers with her workout tapes back in the '80s — is putting together a new fitness video! A casting notice has gone out for super fit Asian females with fitness backgrounds for the project. It's stipulated that they have to be under the age of 35. So much for feminism, equality and all that stuff. We're talking about selling a video here, people!

Casting is also under way for a new medical reality show destined for the Discovery Channel. They've been looking for on-camera doctors of many types — dermatologists, ob-gyns, ER doctors, GPs, etc. Any ethnicity. They must be able to explain complicated medical issues easily. The rate of pay is — gulp — $100. It's all about the promotion value, folks.

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.

COPYRIGHT 2010 MARILYN BECK AND STACY JENEL SMITH
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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