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Bo Bice Still Down to Earth, Walker Views Underground Dogfighting

Dec 12, 2005

The world of underground dogfighting -- the setting for an unforgettable drama with heart? That's what Bruce Dern says about "Walker," the feature he recently finished with Jason Patric, Sam Shepard, Drea De Matteo and Kadee Strickland for writer-director Matt Williams.

Dern notes that the illegal pitting of dogs against each other became "a prominent monetary sport in 1959 in Illinois and Indiana, following the shutdown of a lot of strip mining." He says the period story follows Patric's character's involvement in the canine fights as he tries to make money to get custody of his children. He adds, "The movie is really about who has the bigger heart in the end -- the dog or the man who owns the dog? Who gives the more for whom? When you let them down, they don't know you're letting them down, and they shock you with acts of heroism you wouldn't believe. Maybe dogs are bigger than pets, maybe animals have bigger hearts and brains than we think they do."

Besides "Walker," Dern has "The Astronaut Farmer" with Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Willis and Virginia Madsen ready to hatch in 2006. He also has the big-screen girls' basketball saga "Believe in Me," plus HBO's "Big Love" series, centered on polygamy-practicing Mormons. (Tom Hanks is exec producer on that.)

However, right now, Bruce is focusing his attention on "Chicken." That's the comedic play about a group of inertia-stricken drama school grads that Bruce is co-producing with David Schneider at L.A.'s Lillian Theater. It's all about his hope to bring industry attention to the talents of new playwright/actress Ashley Reed and director Wendy Guererro. Once Bruce got a look at some of Reed's work, he found, "She talks about ordinary things in an extraordinary manner, touching and eloquent." The run ends Sunday (12/18).

BO KNOWS:

Bo Bice may have gained instant stardom through "American Idol," but he claims "not a whole lot has changed" for him since the show.

'The Real Thing' in 12/13

'The Real Thing' in 12/13

"Everything's kind of about the same. I live out in the country now, and I have a son and I hang out with my wife," he says of his wife Caroline and son Aidan.

"I'm just getting to meet a lot of cool people. I'm blessed to be having so much fun doing all this stuff." So what's next for the singer? "Next year I'm going to get on the road to promote this album," notes Bo of his "The Real Thing" album, which hits stores tomorrow (12/13).

"I'll also be recording the next album. You can expect some pop, some rock. No covers. It's all originals. I've been working with some great producers. We'll see what we can do."

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

"Less Than Perfect" regular Patrick Warburton says from a parent's perspective he's not happy with the direction today's cartoons have taken.

"I'm concerned about the crossover when you have adult-themed cartoons," says Warburton, who's a much-in-demand voice artist with several animated projects -- including Nickelodeon's recently launched "The X's," the zany "Kronk's New Groove" DVD, which gets released tomorrow (12/13), plus the indie film "Hoodwinked." "The line between what's for kids and what's for adults is not really that clear anymore. That's why I think kids are getting exposed to more raunchy and tasteless cartoons than they should be."

The father of four says up until recently he wouldn't even let his kids watch "The Family Guy," on which he's done the voice of wheelchair-bound Joe. "I just caved in with my son, who's turning 13, with regard to letting him watch that. In the past, I've just said, 'No, it's not for kids, and that's that!"

Warburton has no qualms about letting his children watch "The X's." He's joined by Wendie Malick, Jansen Panettiere and Lynsey Bartilson on the animated show about a family of world-class super spies living incognito in suburbia. "It's absurd, fun and stylish."

LAND OF THE GIANTS:

"When you see one of his films, you know it's going to be good," claims actor Evan Parke, who got the chance to work with Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson on what promises to be the box-office monster of the season, "King Kong," premiering Wednesday (12/14). "You're like, 'Oh, wow, I'm going to have Peter Jackson on my resume,' but then you meet him and he's such a humble guy. He'll even know the names of the extras, and that's special. That tells me that people are a priority to him," gushes Parke, who plays the first mate on the ship looking for the mighty Kong.

Parke makes it clear that he was pushed to the limits, physically, along with the other actors. "There are a lot of action sequences where we're running up the hills and running from dinosaurs. There are some scenes that involved water, and actors hate water," he admits, but that didn't seem to stop him. "I swam more in New Zealand than I have in my whole life."

(With reports by Stephanie DuBois and Emily Feimster)

The Beck/Smith syndicated newspaper column includes exclusive in-depth, behind-the-scenes reports on the stars, on the business of television and movie-making, and on the recording, publishing and media beats.

2005 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

 

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