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Archive for Friday, September 30, 2005

Jennifer Tilly places her bets on ‘Out of Practice’

September 30, 2005

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— Jennifer Tilly's in the pink.

"I'm wearing an outfit that looks just like a cupcake ... a pink frothy blouse, low cut ... everything a little inappropriately girlie ... Pink, pink, lot of pink," says Tilly, gleefully describing how her character, Crystal, typically will be dressed in an upcoming scene on the new CBS sitcom "Out of Practice."

Crystal is the receptionist for Dr. Stewart Barnes, a gastroenterologist, played by Henry Winkler. She's also his love interest, the attraction enhanced by her breast implants. Stewart's son Oliver (Ty Burrell) is the plastic surgeon who performed the surgery. Lydia (Stockard Channing), Stewart's ex-wife, is a cardiologist. Their other son, Ben (Christopher Gorham), is a relationship counselor, and daughter Regina (Paula Marshall) is an emergency room medic.

Executive producer Joe Keenan, previously of "Frasier," says his new series, which airs 8:30 p.m. Mondays, will offer comedy that "comes out of pain and difficult times, and the humiliations and the way people get through them and band together as a family in response."

The Barnes family is very conflicted, but very smart.

Crystal, the instigator of additional turmoil, isn't family and isn't smart, which suits Tilly just fine.

Actress Jennifer Tilly plays Crystal on the new CBS sitcom "Out of Practice."

Actress Jennifer Tilly plays Crystal on the new CBS sitcom "Out of Practice."

"It's not like, 'Ooh, this person is really stupid,"' she explains. "It's just that they think differently from the way a lot of people think. A lot of people have a lot of clamor going on, a lot of worrying emotions, and a lot of information. People like Crystal are more single-cell people. When they are happy, they are happy. When they are sad, they are sad. You don't have to wonder 'What's going on with Crystal?' You can tell. It's sort of refreshing."

In the original pilot, Crystal was played by Cindy Ambuehl. When it was decided to make the character a regular, the role was recast with a higher-profile name.

"I guess I replaced somebody else, which I feel bad about," says Tilly, who was nominated for an Oscar in 1995 for portraying a bad actress in Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway."

A veteran of many offbeat movies, she's played molls, dolls, vamps and dizzy dames, and will soon be seen as an aging rock groupie in Terry Gilliam's gothic tale "Tideland."

"I had to wear a fat suit and they put all sorts of sores and pustules on my body. It was so much fun."

She hadn't had a regular part in a TV series since the short-lived "Key West" in 1993. Describing herself as someone who "gets bored really easily," she had long felt TV wasn't for her.

But at 47, she's no longer driven by an obsession to become a "huge movie star."

"You get to a certain age and you start to rethink your life and rethink your priorities," Tilly says. "Traveling to exotic locales like Romania is not as appealing as it used to be. When I was younger, you would go on a set and you would have affairs and you'd drink and it was just like summer camp. When you get older it's like, 'Uh, I'm in another hotel room, in another town I really don't want to be in."'

Another motivation for taking the "Out of Practice" role, Tilly says, was to remind people that she is first and foremost an actress, not just an eye-catching celebrity with a distinctive cracked voice, stylish taste in clothes and exceptional skill at cards.

She recently won the Ladies No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em at the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour Ladies Night III - the first woman to hold both titles.

Although she's not wearing her winnings this day as she sits in her Paramount Studios dressing room, she often does.

"That's the great thing about poker," she says. "You get jewelry - stuff you can wear. Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy, you can't hang that around your neck. But everywhere you go, you've got your poker gold and diamond bracelet on; everyone knows you won."

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