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Jon Voight: Sacrifice of Series Will Be Missing Grandkids

Jon Voight's shopping for living quarters in the Dallas area. He'll be residing there while shooting Fox's forthcoming "Lone Star" series, in which the Oscar-winning actor plays the patriarch of a powerful Texas oil family.

"I don't really consider myself a Hollywood guy, but I'm very connected to a lot of the work and what goes on in this town, so it's going to be a bit of a sacrifice not to be here in that sense — but the big sacrifice is, I won't be so close to my grandchildren and Angie and my son, James," he tells us, referring, of course, to Angelina Jolie and her children with Brad Pitt, and to James Haven.

"It would be wonderful to think they could come down and visit, but I don't know if they ever will do that. They get so much press every time they move, it becomes impossible," he adds. "You'd have to have a place that's pretty secure."

We caught up with Voight the other night at Fox's "Lone Star" reception at the Boudoir at Coco de Ville in West Hollywood, Calif. The smart new show, debuting this fall, is about an incredibly charming, handsome and gifted young con man — James Wolk, who not only pulls it off in the pilot, but is getting likened to George Clooney — who has built two phony lives in two different cities, complete with a wife in one and a girlfriend in the other, while bilking businesspeople of millions. Now he wants to go legit without losing anything, even as suspicions about him are running ever hotter.

Voight does plan to make visits back to L.A., but he knows he'll be busy. He says of the series, "I took a look at it, and then I talked it over with my dearest friends, and we decided that it might work out. I had done '24' and it turned out to be very successful for me — the success was that I enjoyed it.

"Then I met the cast. It doesn't come along that often that you meet a group of people you really care for immediately, and I did. I came to care about each one of these kids very much," says Voight. "Somehow, we just all clicked and it was like it was just meant to be."

CHANGING LIVES: Want to go on a double date with Chris and Malaak Rock — enjoying courtside seats at a New York Knicks game? The Rocks are offering themselves and the choice b-ball tickets up for auction to the highest bidder. It's part of the couple's latest effort on behalf of their Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service organization — with those items, and others, up for grabs at www.charityfolks.com.

Journey for Change sends inner-city youth on trips to South Africa, where they become involved in service work themselves. Malaak tells us she'll be heading out with their second group Aug. 18 — and the kids will be sharing their experiences via video and blog on the MTV and Nickelodeon websites, in addition to her www.angelrockproject.com.

Malaak has been involved in work on behalf of direly impoverished families led by orphans and "grannies" of South Africa since the Rock family visited there years ago. Then, she says, "because my husband is so committed to helping those kids in Brooklyn, where he grew up, the idea came to me of bringing the two together."

The result is their charity, which "takes kids from the receiving end of aid to the giving end of service, and lets them see how good that feels," says Malaak.

According to her, the 30 12-to-15-year-olds who went on the first Journey for Change expedition two years ago are still involved in service and advocacy work on behalf of the families they met while on their trip. "To be introduced to Third World poverty — kids living 10 to a shack, with no electricity or running water. It was a shock for those kids who'd spent their whole lives thinking they had it worse than anybody, ultimately realizing they were blessed by being American and living in the U.S. It was amazing and also difficult for some."

The Brooklyn adventurers bonded with their South African counterparts, playing music and dancing together. They also had the opportunity to go out on safari and see rhinos, elephants and zebras. Says Malaak, "It was extraordinarily life-changing for them."

THE BIG-SCREEN SCENE: "Sopranos" creator David Chase is full speed ahead with casting of his Paramount feature about a young rock 'n' roll band in 1960s New Jersey. Calls have gone out for characters including Douglas, an 18-25-year-old Italian American who's not an athletic type, and Ronnie, described as attractive, charismatic, athletic and volatile. This is the film for which the E Street Band is serving as music supervisors, and Steven Van Zandt is serving as producer.

TV DAYS OF YORE: You have to wonder what a memoir from the man who gave the world "The First Nudie Musical" and "The Brain From Planet X" might be like. Writer/producer/director/actor Bruce Kimmel's "There's Mel, There's Woody, and There's You" turns out to be a fond look back on the days when — at least, the way he tells it — there was fun galore to be had in being a busy TV actor who never quite made the big time. Kimmel's moments had to do with things like being the rat who got his hands on Laurie Partridge's diary — horrors! — on "The Partridge Family." He says the business "was not so cutthroat as it is now." Instead of today's grueling, multi-stage audition process involving casting directors and network execs, even for guest roles, when Kimmel was seen regularly on shows like "Happy Days," things were simple. After one reading for producers, actors would usually get the yea or nay within hours, he says. Kimmel went on to his major successes as a producer of musical theater recordings and the author of books including his Benjamin Kritzer novels.

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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