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Brigid Brannagh: 'Army Wives' 'Kind of Preparing for the End'

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Even though Lifetime has re-upped "Army Wives" for a sixth season, wife Pamela Moran — Brigid Brannagh — admits, "At this point, we're kind of preparing for the end because we never know what's happening. Everyone is sort of seeing their own end of it."

The beautiful red-haired actress has decidedly mixed feelings about that. She's proud of the show and happy doing it, but for her, it's meant long spells of time apart from her husband, Justin Lyons. He comes to visit her at the South Carolina location a week at a time during production, she says.

"I actually don't travel back and forth too much because we're essentially on call." Still, she's traveled enough to be familiar with the Charleston airport, "which is such a small airport and subject to so much weather, there are a lot of delays. I've sat out at a curb in not a great mood too many times."

Brannagh is clear that when "Wives" does get decommissioned, "I'm definitely interested in doing things somewhat locally for the sake of quality of life, peace of mind and sanity."

Over her last hiatus, she doubled up making the independent comedy "Not That Funny" and the Hallmark Channel Original Movie "A Crush on You." The latter, airing next Saturday (6/11), has Brannagh in a genial romantic tale involving mistaken email identities. Sean Patrick Flanery, Michael Clarke Duncan and Christine Scott Bennett round out the cast of the romp, directed by Allison Anders.

Brannagh's single-mom character leads a fairly chaotic life and is a bit on the disheveled side — until a makeover sequence. She says she was right at home in the "before" parts.

"One of the first things I appreciated about this character is that she's a disaster, emotionally as well as on the outside," she says. "I'm not sure every actress on the planet would be willing to just go there — 'Make me dowdy, frizz out my hair, make it awkward.' But for me, it was a nice break. Especially now with HD, people are constantly primping you because every detail is so noticeable. Quite honestly, that stuff drives me nuts."

Meanwhile, her series focuses on those who keep the home fires burning while their mates are off to war, but Brannagh and "Army Wives" cast mate Terry Serpico just came back from visiting the front lines themselves.

"We did a USO tour of Afghanistan. It's amazing," Brannagh declares. "These soldiers were so incredibly grateful we were there. It's actually surprising. Their wives watch the show. They'd hand me a phone and say, 'Say hello to my wife.' It was really a connection from home."

The actress found Afghanistan tougher than she'd imagined, she says, "sleeping less than you think, everyone walking around with M16s." She was impressed by "how much they care about educating people and making a difference.

They have a lot more savvy, a lot more thought, a lot more conscience than people realize."

Brannagh says, in fact, "The best thing I've gotten out of all the last five years is a much better understanding of those who serve our country, who they are and why they do it."

MAKING THE MOST OF HER TIME: "Desperate Housewives" actress Kathryn Joosten is making quite a busman's holiday out of summer this year. She's currently in previews of Tracy Letts' play "Superior Donuts" at L.A.'s Geffen Playhouse, starring Gary Cole and "Twilight's" Edi Gathegi. The play, a humorous and heartwarming look at unlikely relationships in an ethnically diverse Chicago neighborhood, opens Wednesday (6/8) and runs through July 10. After that, she'll go on to a role in the big-screen comedy "The Escort Service" before getting back to the "Housewives" set.

In "Superior Donuts," she plays "a crazy bag lady who has some unusual insights now and then. When I told one of my sons I was playing that, he said, 'And yet another part she doesn't have to act in," relates the septuagenarian character actress with a chuckle. "It's not a huge part, but it's great fun for me. I'm having a ball. We've had standing ovations."

Joosten's sons are rightfully proud of her. A former psychiatric nurse, she didn't even begin her acting career until she was 40, after her divorce.

"I said to the boys, 'I want to try to be an actor. Here's the deal: I want to try to do this as a living. It will mean crazy times. I don't know how it will go. I'll keep my wallpapering and advertising businesses going. Or, I'll put it all aside and get a 9-5 job, but I really want to do this. I need a year.' They said, 'Go for it.' But what do they know? They're 10 and 12 at the time."

After a year, "I asked for another year" she admits with a laugh. But by then, she'd made inroads, landing work at Chicago's Goodman Theatre and other stage jobs, and getting her first commercial.

SWINGIN' AND SINGIN': It looks like a fall production start for Mike Mayers' mockumentary "Swinging in Suburbia" about various guests planning to attend a swingers' sex party. Hey, baby, that's not to be confused with Mike Myers and his also-swingin' Austin Powers. The famous Mike is occupied with getting ready for first-time fatherhood with wife Kelly Tisdale — and performing with his and Fred Armisen's New Wave parody band, Modern Weepers. What they're planning to do with their comedic Weepers is something they're currently keeping under wraps, but Spike Jonze filmed their show at the Mercury Lounge in New York last week.

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.

COPYRIGHT 2011 MARILYN BECK AND STACY JENEL SMITH

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