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Luke Perry Talks New 'Goodnight' Movies, Possibility of a Sitcom/Flap Over Dakota Fanning Cosmo Pic a Big Gift to the Mag

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Luke Perry in a sitcom? Maybe. The actor who rose to fame as Dylan McKay on the original "Beverly Hills, 90210" tells us, "I'm talking to folks about that. Comedy is really exciting to me." And having guested on several sitcoms, he likes the schedule. "Half-hour comedy shows are like a play, one night a week."

Perry exudes charisma and charm as his Old West circuit judge character, John Goodnight, in his "Goodnight for Justice: The Measure of a Man" movie that premieres on the Hallmark Movie Channel Jan. 28. He created the character and serves as executive producer of the follow-up to his 2011 "Goodnight for Justice" telepic that earned the channel its highest ratings ever. A third "Goodnight" movie is already in the can, and he's sketching out plans for more. "I'm really excited about keeping the door open on this franchise," he says.

In "Measure of a Man," the judge reunites with a former flame, and gets involved with her troubled teenage son who has become a gang member — 19th century style. "I'm not trying to be bigger-better-faster. I've always contended that Westerns don't have to be all about action if you have interesting stories and characters, like the older pictures I like," says Perry, a life-long fan of the Western genre. He's also a horseman to the marrow, with six horses of his own.

Perry says the "Goodnight" movies have done well abroad, which makes getting foreign financing easier. As for what else he has brewing, he says, "I have a lot of contemporary stuff I want to do, too — a couple of different shows I've been developing."

His Westerns film in exquisite locales in British Columbia, and he notes, "I like to be out in the wide open space. It's difficult for me to be on a stage all the time or a studio lot. I like being outside — but having said that, if it was the right situation, I would be open to another series."

PLAYING INTO THEIR HANDS: You've got to know Cosmopolitan's power people are loving the tempest in the media teapot over their Dakota Fanning cover — with Fanning pictured amid cutlines about vaginal well-being and pleasing one's man in bed — because right or wrong, all that harrumphing just sells more magazines.

It's deja vu — the same thing that happened a few years ago, when Annie Leibovitz photographed a then-15-year-old Miley Cyrus topless in bed for Vanity Fair.

The same thing happened when Rolling Stone featured a teen-dream Britney Spears on the cover in 1999, lying on a bed, clad with a bra, shorts and an open top. The American Family Association called that one "a disturbing mix of childhood innocence and adult sexuality" and called for a boycott of stores selling Britney's album — but to no avail.

It's not that we're applauding the sexing-up of juveniles, which is potentially damaging and dangerous on so many levels. It's just that the harrumphers often turn themselves into an unwitting marketing tool — providing proof positive that something is "edgy" or "controversial."

Dakota, who turns 18 next month, is standing up and wearing a real dress. She looks beautiful. The "story" really isn't one this time.

IF THE VOICE SOUNDS FAMILIAR: Lucy Liu considers her voice work on "Kung Fu Panda" — now a Saturday morning cartoon — as "sort of the reprieve" from tougher duty, such as her new cop role on "Southland."

"I adore working on 'Kung Fu Panda,'" she says. "I think that having the little snippets of stories instead of a long story with a full arc works really well for the show. I have friends who say their kids have watched the movies 50 times. They're really happy about the show — some new 'Kung Fu Panda' between the movies."

Liu also likes that her character, Viper, gets a little more time to have her background explored. "Viper was born without fangs, and her parents said, 'Oh, my gosh. What will she do without fangs?' But she's made up for it with the kung fu. It's a great story."

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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