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Jane Kaczmarek Glad for Lift from 'Ophelia' After 'Very Sad Year'

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Jane Kaczmarek Glad for Lift from 'Ophelia' After 'Very Sad Year'/'Secretariat' Actor Deals with Daughter's Cerebral Palsy

Making Lifetime's "Reviving Ophelia" movie that airs Monday (10/11) came as a much-appreciated lift for Jane Kaczmarek. The actress, who reigned for seven years as authoritarian mom Lois on "Malcolm in the Middle" — and for 17 as half of one of Hollywood's favorite couples with ex-husband Bradley Whitford — admits, "It was a tough year. My husband filed for divorce. It was a very sad year."

Many in the industry thought of the Whitfords as a great couple. "So did I," she says. "I never thought I'd be single again."

The divorce came in tandem with the disappointing cancellation of Steven Bochco's "Raising the Bar," in which she played a judge, after two seasons.

"Reviving Ophelia" represents "the first time I've worked since all of this happened. My manager liked the idea of getting me in front of a camera again, reminding me when I was good at something," says Kaczmarek candidly.

Drawn from psychotherapist Mary Pipher's seminal books about the pressures and expectations facing young females in our "girl-poisoning" contemporary society, "Reviving Ophelia" centers on a high school girl's (Rebecca Williams) relationship with an abusive boyfriend. Kaczmarek is the mother in denial.

These days, Kaczmarek is bouncing back. She's dating. She continues to flex her acting muscles with North Hollywood's Antaeus Theatre group (she opens in Lillian Hellman's "The Autumn Garden" later this month). She says a half-hour comedy would be a dream, but she's not open to the kind of series schedule in which 12-hour days are the norm.

Her children are now 12, 10 and 7 years old, and she says, "I don't like to leave them. Being a mother has really become my — I really like it. I'm older — 54. Having kids this late, I waited so long to have them, and then when they were really little, I was working on 'Malcolm' — a great time on a great show. But now, I really love being home with my kids in the middle of the day, cooking with them, getting a real good look at what women who aren't in show business do."

FROM THE INSIDE LOOKING OUT: Busy character actor Nestor Serrano, soon to be seen as the not-so-nice Pancho Martin in Disney's thrilling "Secretariat," opening tomorrow (10/8), is relieved to find that moving from his long-time New York home to Los Angeles hasn't slowed down his professional pace.

In fact, he went right into working on an upcoming episode of "90210."

Part of the reason for the move: warmer and dryer weather conditions to benefit his 4-and-a-half-year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy.

"I've been involved with United Cerebral Palsy of New York for 12 years — that's approximately eight years before my daughter was born," discloses Serrano. "A friend of mine who was helping out with an event told me about it ... and little by little, I'd come in and help out, and my involvement got bigger. My wife and I are board members. It's purely a coincidence that our daughter was born with cerebral palsy."

Volunteering, he says, isn't a chore "when you love what you do, when you realize how many people out there don't know there are resources that can help them ... guide them through services and find financial resources."

Unfortunately, Serrano also knows, "There's not a breakthrough on the horizon. You know, you can have a thousand people with cerebral palsy and a thousand different manifestations — from a vegetative state to a level that's undetectable to the untrained eye and everything in between."

His daughter "doesn't do well in humidity. One of the main conditions in her case is breathing issues," he says.

Hence the family move. "It was a huge change and one I was really, really frightened to make. I love New York, and thinking of the holidays, family — I knew it was going to be difficult," Serrano says. "But the punch line is, I love it here."

Weather wasn't welcoming when they shot "Secretariat" in Kentucky "in the summer. Hot times and a lot of manure, and there was the smell factor," Serrano recalls.

But he's laughing, not complaining. "It was such an extraordinary experience," he says. "And Diane Lane — she was such a huge anchor for this movie. Her character has an arc that could easily have been thinned out by a lesser caliber actor, but she really fleshed this out. Her character has so much heart and passion and commitment. To know this is a true story is really remarkable."

SCARY TIMES: Good news for fans of frightening film fare. Prolific director Andy Fickman ("You Again") is moving right along with his ambitious plan to remake four cult favorite flicks from the old RKO Studio: "Bedlam," "Five Came Back," "I Walked with a Zombie" and "Body Snatchers." He tells us he's just about due to get "two of our scripts in, and we'll start doing some readings on those." He adds, "I'm a fan of horror films, the thriller genre in particular, and a huge fan of (producer Val) Lewton. It's so much fun to take these projects and give them a modern-day spin. It's a pretty big process, putting four of them through the development wringer." To say the least.

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 2010 MARILYN BECK AND STACY JENEL SMITH

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