|Richard Belzer, who played Det. John Munch on "Homicide: Life on the Streets" for six years before he began his current 10-year run with the character on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," straightens out a misconception about his financial situation. With each of the "Law & Order" shows playing as many as six times a day in reruns, people, he says, think that he and his co-stars are "filthy rich."|
He's not complaining, mind you, and is proud of the fact that "90 million people a week in the U.S. watch one version of the show or another" -- but he stresses that residuals aren't what they used to be in the old days, "when residuals were high and stayed high. On the other hand, the shows are being played over and over and over -- and it's a dream for all of us to work and live in New York."
There have been changes along the way in the various "L&O" casts, but Belzer points out that, unlike some other shows, "If there have been any flaps, they've been done in a very civilized way -- with very little ever spilling over to the press and with most leaving on friendly conditions."
Asked what he considers the key to the series' success, he says that part of the genius of "L&O" creator Dick Wolf "is that he leaves nothing hanging in the storylines. Each segment is self-contained. You can tune in and watch any one segment and not wonder what you missed."
THE BIG SCREEN SCENE: British star Colin Firth reports he found working on Helen Hunt's directorial debut, "Then She Found Me," "an experience to cherish, really."
The "Bridget Jones's Diary" actor, who plays Hunt's love interest in the film opening today (4/25), says, "I've worked for directors who were nowhere near as competent. She started acting when she was 10 and had been on a film set her whole life. I can't imagine anybody more qualified in terms of their apprenticeship." Firth says as a director, Hunt's acting background "made a marked difference. She just knew the actors' language, the little ways we fake, the way actors hide behind something or try to take a shortcut. It was just really helpful."
In the film that also stars Matthew Broderick and Bette Midler, Hunt plays a woman at a crossroads -- her adoptive mother has just died, and her husband (Broderick) has just left her when her real mother (Midler) breezes into her life. "It's a heartwarming, funny film, but there's all grown up stuff in it," says Firth. "It isn't glib or silly in any cheap ways. It's about some painful issues for people of our age. It's about broken relationships, about loss and the way people try to navigate through the complexities when they're blindsided by life. It took the hard road lots of times, but it's a very inspiring film."
THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: The "Saturday Night Live" troupe will be cutting its hiatus short this year, reports Kenan Thompson. "Next season is going to be big because of the election, so we're starting early. And we're going to be adding some prime time shows."
Thompson says the "SNL" troupe is about to wrap their current season -- "We've still got Shia LaBeouf and Steve Carell coming up" -- so he'll be focusing his time working on Nickelodeon's new animated series, "The Mighty B!," premiering this Sunday (4/26).
Thompson's "SNL" homey, comedian/actress Amy Poehler, co-created, writes and stars in the half-hour morning series that follows the adventures of Bessie Higgenbottom (Poehler), a proud Honeybee troop member, as she strives to become the mysterious superhero, The Mighty Bee. "It was one of the more informal ways I've ever gotten a job," he says. "She came into the office and was like, 'I've got this cartoon I've written, want to do a part in it?' I was like, 'Of course.' It's been a lot of fun working with my buddy Amy." Thompson does the voice of cool, older skater kid Rocky Rhodes on the series that also stars Andy Richter. "Richter's very funny. I got to work with him once or twice. I've been watching this show, and it looks great. I have a feeling it's going to take off."
LABOR OF THE HEART: Daryl Hannah says she's still in the editing stage of the sex slavery documentary that took her to Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, where she went into brothels and found enslaved children as young as 8 years old. The activist actress, who spoke before the United Nations on the subject last year, tells us the work has been going slowly. "It's difficult."
Hannah also has a full plate of other activities, including the feature "Vice" with her "Kill Bill" cast mate Michael Madsen, which goes into limited release May 9. And her May 25 Hallmark Channel "Shark Swarm" movie with John Schneider and Armand Assante. And her ongoing environmental work, including the continually updated vlog on her highly watchable website, dhlovelife.com.
With reports by Stephanie DuBois and Emily Feimster.