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Bakula: ‘Certain Age’ Won’t Be Drawn-Out Drama

Despite the fact that "Men of a Certain Age" has attained the audience numbers and critical acclaim to warrant a second season — which launches Monday (12/6) on TNT — don't expect the Ray Romano dramedy to linger on season after season.

That's the word from the series' Scott Bakula, who says of Romano and his co-creator, Mike Royce, "It was never their intention to have it become a nine-year-old show, to keep it going and going. Their intention is to move the stories along relatively quickly."

Thus, "Ray's character is moving forward in his relationships. His gambling story takes a crazy turn this year," says Bakula, speaking of Romano's character's apparent betting addiction. The third member of their triumvirate of buddies, played by Andre Braugher, will be seen "taking over his father's car dealership with his wife. His dad has stepped away — but not stepped away."

And as for Bakula's character, ne'er-do-well actor Terry, "The good news about him was he had so many places to go. My character turns 50 this season, and when you're an almost 50-year-old and as much of a Peter Pan kind of guy as Terry is, there's all kinds of potential. His car dealership job sticks for a while, and Terry gets involved in a 9-to-5 lifestyle, which he's never had to deal with before. That's a maturing step for him. He has a responsibility because his friend has bailed him out and gotten him a job. Because of his commitment to his friend, he can't just bail out this time."

Bakula makes it clear that as far as he is concerned, "The cohesiveness of the writing on this show is what brings it all together. It's not predictable; that's kind of the wild card. These guys, their styles are so jarringly different, nobody's on the same page. It's amazing they all ended up in the same show. Do you buy that these guys are good friends and buddies? If you do, then we can do almost anything."

Ironically, considering how convincingly he, Romano and Braugher portray longtime bosom pals, they were near strangers when they began. "We didn't hang out that much before the show started. I think I'd met Ray twice before the auditions. We would cross paths at golf tournaments, fundraisers and that kind of thing. We had a day of rehearsal or so together before we started shooting. That was it," says Bakula.

And during the hiatus between seasons, they also didn't have a chance to pal around offstage "because Andre lives on the East Coast, he jumped on a plane even before the wrap party. We all have kids. Ray has a hugely busy life."

THE PLAYLIST IS THE THING: Give former "Lost" star Jorge Garcia credit for eclectic musical tastes. The big guy is spotlighted in Entertainment Weekly's On My iPod feature in the issue due on stands tomorrow (12/3), revealing his picks for tunes he'd take to a desert island. For instance, there's Tenpole Tudor's "Swords of a Thousand Men." According to Garcia, "They're one of those Clash rip-offs from the '80s ... The 'Hoorah-hoorah-hoorahhey!' is just so catchy. I was like, 'I know that song from being a kid, but I couldn't tell you any other part of it.' It made me hunt it down."

Then there's the Real McKenzies' "Loch Lomond." "In looking for 'Swords of a Thousand Men' I discovered the Real McKenzies," he tells EW. "I'm a huge fan of the Pogues and other Irish folk rock & roll bands. The Real McKenzies are like that, although they're technically Canadian. It's that 'You take the high road/And I'll take the low road' song. It rocks."

But just when you think you see a pattern, Garcia throws in Bobby Darin doing "Mack the Knife." Says he: "One day, when I worked in a record store, we decided to find all the versions of 'Mack the Knife' in the store and play them back to back. Bobby Darin is still the standard for me." Too true.

And Weezer's "Trainwrecks" is on his list, too. "I met Rivers Cuomo and had taken a picture with him when we were both doing the George Lopez show. Two months later, I got an e-mail saying they wanted me for the cover (of "Hurley"). How can you not be flattered by that?" Honestly.

THE MORE THE MUSICAL: Casting is getting into full swing for Disney's forthcoming "Madison High" series, which is being termed a successor to the "High School Musical" movies — not "Glee," OK? Despite those cynical remarks from in and outside of the industry, "Madison High" will have all-original music, unlike the hit Fox show. However it turns out, it sounds like producers Lester Lewis ("Jonas L.A.") and Paul Hoen and their team will soon be up to their eyebrows in an avalanche of submissions from Zac Efron and Ashley Tisdale wannabes, ages 13-15. They've asked for "Madison High" hopefuls to submit videos of themselves performing, including a minute of a Broadway song and 45 seconds of dancing.

FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTENT: The untitled Fox Network Affion Crockett project is looking for someone who does a good Suze Orman impression. That's different.

And they need a Ben Stiller sound-alike for the big-screen "Ben." Casting notices stipulate that "You must sound exactly like Ben Stiller, be in the same age range, have lip synch and ADR experience." Don't call us. Candidates are encouraged to call them, and "Speak slowly."

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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