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Edie Falco: ‘Nurse Jackie' Hiatus Might Be Prime Time for Family/When Stars Play Stars: Bigger Risks, Rewards -- and Complaints

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Edie Falco's acclaimed "Nurse Jackie" returns to the Showtime lineup Sunday (April 8), while in real life, the actress is weighing whether to take on another role — or focus on her role as a mom during her hiatus this year.

"I'm looking at a whole bunch of stuff. I'm sort of excited by the potential of some things coming up," she tells us. On the other hand, "It might not be the worst thing for me to take some time off. It would actually be nice to be home for the kids and do some things."

Her kids — adopted son and daughter Anderson and Macy — are now 8 and 4, respectively. Edie has found that balancing work and motherhood, now that they're a little older, "is actually easier. They come with me a lot. They seem to enjoy themselves. They run up and down the halls of the studio where I work. They know the people, play with the guys. And when they don't come with me, they understand when I say, 'I'm going to be late tonight.' I can actually sort of explain myself, and talk about it when they feel disappointed."

Contrary to her real-life happy home, things are anything but healthy, smooth or fun for her pill-popping nurse Jackie Peyton. The beginning of the new season will find her "still fumbling around to find out exactly what her bottom is — what her last straw will be," as Edie puts it. As for Jackie's work mates and loved ones, "Everybody's tolerance for the insanity of addiction is different." Expect some big changes for Jackie this season.

STARS PLAYING STARS: News that Jane Fonda is probably stepping into the pumps of none other than Nancy Reagan in the Lee Daniels feature "The Butler" caused a flap last week — quite predictably, given the former first lady's association with Republican red and Fonda's with red, as in commies. This comes fresh on the heels of Julianne Moore's performance as Sarah Palin in "Game Change" this election year and Meryl Streep's Oscar win for playing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. It's a vintage season for actresses portraying political stars — and in each case, there has been a degree of controversy.

Of course, it doesn't have to be a politically charged personality for casting to elicit widespread critiques. When stars play stars of any sort, it's a hazardous business. The risks, the complaints and the rewards are bigger. For every triumph — ala Michelle Williams in her Oscar-nominated portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn," or Jamie Foxx's Academy Award-winning performance as Ray Charles in "Ray" — there are missteps galore.

You may recall that the critical shark bit when the usually great Kevin Spacey played Bobby Darin in his auteur film "Beyond the Sea." Val Kilmer's portrait of The Doors' rocker Jim Morrison was too weird for some — perhaps appropriately — and it reportedly took Kilmer months to shake the character. Dennis Quaid got mixed reviews as Jerry Lee Lewis in "Great Balls of Fire!" James Brolin was critically crucified for his performance as Clark Gable in the film "Gable and Lombard."

However, when actors nail such a performance, the rewards are big. The Academy loves a great star playing a great star. Think Robert Downey, Jr., who was nominated for his Charlie Chaplin performance. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon both scored Oscar nominations — and she won — for playing Johnny and June Carter Cash in "Walk the Line."

With Charlotte Chandler's "Marlene: Marlene Dietrich, A Personal Biography" having focused fresh attention on the film icon (the book is just now being released in paperback), you can be sure actresses are musing about playing her. Who could pull it off? Cate Blanchett? She already has an Oscar for playing Katharine Hepburn in "The Aviator." What a bookend a Dietrich Oscar would be! Or how about Diane Kruger of "Inglourious Basterds"? Chandler says she imagines a European actress in the role.

Coming up this year: "The Drummer" biopic of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, starring Aaron Eckhart; Steven Soderbergh's HBO Liberace project "Behind the Candelabra" with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon; Damon again in the planned Robert F. Kennedy biopic, "His Life"; and competing Linda Lovelace biopics, which include Amanda Seyfried in "Lovelace" and Malin Akerman in "Inferno: A Linda Lovelace Story." Time will tell who'll get acclaim and who'll go down in flames.

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 2012 MARILYN BECK AND STACY JENEL SMITH

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