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Michael Seater Surprised by U.S. Response to His Series

Sounds like Greg Grunberg's activities as an Internet entrepreneur could be about to eclipse his acting career, financially speaking. The former "Heroes" star is going global with his Yowza!! mobile coupon application. He and his partners have been in huddles this week regarding their expansion into Canada, the U.K., Mexico, China, Korea and other countries.

"We bootstrapped it for a year," he tells us. "A friend in advertising helped us do advertising. A friend in marketing helped us with the marketing. Five million people are already using it, and now we're getting bombarded by credit card companies, loyalty groups and investors. We have to choose the right strategic partnerships."

Which is not to say that Grunberg isn't busy acting, too. In fact, he has his midseason NBC "Love Bites" series, a new movie and a new made-for-television film coming up. The latter is Monday's (8/23) "Bond of Silence" on Lifetime. It's the true story of a woman (Kim Raver) whose husband goes to quiet down a loud neighborhood party and winds up dead — and none of the teens there will talk about what happened.

"The entire community clammed up. It was this mob mentality," says Grunberg. He plays a detective who is actually a composite of five investigators who worked on the case — which has a very unexpected ending.

Tuesday (8/24) sees the DVD release of "Group Sex," the comedy in which Grunberg stars with Tom Arnold, Lisa Lampanelli and Henry Winkler. It has to do with a sex addiction group. "The whole thing is outrageous, but it also tugs at you," he says.

As for Yowza!!, Grunberg points out, "We couldn't do it without these amazing things people have created with the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. Businesses like ours today are like, 'I stumbled upon this gold in this hill. Who is the best team to help me dig this out?'"

His free app allows users to find and use coupons for products they want, anytime, anywhere, including providing store directions and readable bar codes — no paper involved. "It's mom-proof. I'm talking about my mom," he says. "She has to be able to click it and press it and get a coupon when she wants."

Grunberg says he continually gets new product ideas, and entrepreneurship comes naturally to him. "I've got it in my blood. My father was in the solar energy business years ago."

HEADING SOUTH: Canadian actor Michael Seater admits he's a bit taken aback by the response with which his "18 to Life" series has been greeted since its unveiling on the CW earlier this month.

"The reception in Canada was a lot different from the reception in U.S. No one thought of it as controversial," he says of the series in which 18-year-old neighbors run off and get married fresh out of high school — then must cope with life in too-close proximity to their wildly different parents.

"No one ever said, 'No, they're too young.' 'They're not pregnant; why should they get married?' 'The show is endorsing young sex' and all these sorts of comments that have come out here. They thought Stacey (Farber) and I were cute together."

That's not the only difference. Plopped onto the schedule with little time for fanfare, "18 to Life" has been struggling in the ratings cellar here — while its success north of the border shows in its renewal by CBC for a second season.

No matter how "18 to Life" fares with U.S. audiences, it's already a success for Seater, 23. Having done three kids' shows (including "Life with Derek") over the last eight years, "I was definitely ready to move into something different. I was 21 when we did the pilot, getting old enough where I don't want to play kids anymore. Still, I'm not 28. I saw this character as that good stepping stone an actor needs to go from boy to man. Much of what my character, Tom, is going through is what I've gone through. The age and the concept of the show worked really well for me."

THE BIG-SCREEN SCENE: Nick Cassavetes has been on the lookout for younger versions of his wife — but in the very best way. The filmmaker has "Yellow," a film he wrote for his wife, Heather Wahlquist, en route to a production start Sept. 12 in L.A. with Oklahoma locations to follow. Wahlquist's character, Mary, suffers from deeply buried family secrets that led to her drug addiction, and 18-year-old and 5-year-old actresses are needed to play Mary in flashback scenes.

"Yellow" is the film demanding Cassavetes' time and attention while the industry ponders his plan to do yet another version of "A Star Is Born." It would be the fourth incarnation of the Tinseltown tale — with, according to Deadline Hollywood, Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Rihanna in the mix for the up-and-coming star and Robert Downey Jr. or Jon Hamm wanted as her fading fellow performer.

Readers' suggestions for more radical deviations from the usual "Star Is Born" include a lesbian "Star Is Born," a comedy "Star Is Born" featuring Hamm doing his James Mason imitation and a 3-D "Star Is Born" in which one of the partners is a space alien.

Really, the possibilities are endless — "A Star Is Born: The Streets"? "A Star Is Born on Ice"? "High School Musical 4: A Star Is Born"? "A Star Is Born: D.C."? "A Star Is Born: One Million Years B.C.?" A Muppet Star Is Born"? "The Next Food Network Star Is Born"? Hey, we've seen worse.

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.

Find more on Michael Seater at HollywoodBeacon.com


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