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R&B Star Mario Recounts Journey Helping His Mother Off Drugs/Angus T. Jones Sheltered from Show's Raunch, Says Ferrell

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R&B singer Mario tells us he's had one of the most introspective years of his life as he's put his career on hold to help save his mother from a serious drug addiction.

"About two years ago, some stories came out about my mother's drug addiction. For me, as an artist, it was very hard because I didn't want people that in touch with my life. I felt like it was a setback, but it really wasn't," recalls the 21-year-old entertainer born Mario Dewar Barrett. He shares the emotional experience of getting his mother, Shawn, into rehab in a documentary airing Sunday (Oct. 21) on MTV. "So many people have someone in their family who has a problem with substance abuse, so this just brings it to light in a real way."

While Mario, who also starred in "Freedom Writers," admits he had reservations about being so revealing, he says it was important for him and his mother to tell their own story. "People would always ask questions about it. My mother was ready to have the truth out there instead of speculation. I understand how important it is to have your privacy with these types of things, but sometimes the truth can set you free."

The experience proved to be life changing for the singer and his mother, who have worked hard to repair their relationship. "We were at a point where either I help my mother get herself together or the drugs were going to kill her. It was a critical point in my life, making that decision. The outcome was great," claims Mario, who is back to making music with his third album, "Go," hitting stores Nov. 27. "I feel like I accomplished something that was worth more than anything else in my life at this time. When I look at my mother today and I see this light in her eyes, it shows me that nothing's impossible."

GOOD LOOKIN' OUT: "Two and a Half Men's" half-man, Angus T. Jones, just turned 14 last week, but still the cast and crew take care to shelter him — at least, so says Conchata Ferrell, who plays the boys' housekeeper on the CBS sitcom. "Our show is raunchy, and people worry about him being on it, though most kids his age know about everything that's happening anyway," she says. "But we have sort of an agreement that we don't curse and carry on around the set. We all do that for his sake, and then he'll say, 'Most of it goes over my head. I'm just not interested.' He's far more interested in his video games."

She adds that "Two and Half Men's" creator, Chuck Lorre, has made it clear the show was never meant for the young 'uns.

"Somebody asked Chuck about it, and he said, 'First of all, if you're watching this show with your child, you shouldn't be. And second, we try to gear the writing so the innuendoes will land above their heads.' We're hoping it lands above Angus's head as well."

She adds that despite being on such a high-profile hit show, the lad is staying quite grounded thus far. "Angus is coming through it perfectly," she says. "He's really smart. He's athletic. He plays the guitar. He's just a really good kid with great parents."

THE DEVIL YOU SAY: "Passion of the Christ" star Jim Caviezel is back speaking the word as Jesus in "Word of Promise," the newly released audio version of the New Testament. "I told him he's got to get the part playing the devil next time. I think he got the joke, but I'm not sure because he didn't laugh," says Ernie Hudson, who provides the voice of Simon Peter. The nice-guy actor stresses he's proud of the project, noting, "A lot of great people are involved — Stacy Keach, Marisa Tomei, Richard Dreyfuss, Michael York, Lou Diamond Phillips. I grew up with a grandmother who never went to school, and I know that for a lot of people who have trouble reading, this is a chance for them to listen to these wonderful passages. It's nice when the technology can really be used in such positive ways."

Hudson has a bunch of TV and film roles on the way — including a two-part sweeps installment of "Las Vegas" Nov. 2 and 9, his possibly recurring role on "Psyche" as Dule Hill's dad (with Phylicia Rashad as Dule's mom), and the indie film "Everything's Jake" being showcased in a handful of theaters, followed by a DVD release Oct. 26.

FROM THE INSIDE LOOKING OUT: "I used to think it didn't affect me," says "Criminal Minds" regular A.J. Cook of the drawn-from-life stories on the show about the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI. "But I went on hiatus for two months, and the first time I saw those crime-scene photos again, I realized how much it does affect me. Part of you is saying, 'Oh, it's just TV,' but it's not really because most of the stories are taken from real case files. It's horrendous to think there are people out there that do this — that's why this can be a scary and tough show to watch. It's a little creepy, but hopefully people get something from it. Hopefully, we're getting education out there as well."

She adds, "I've talked to real profilers, and boy, have they got stories to tell — but they also have a sense of humor about it. They say, 'If you can't laugh about it, you shouldn't be doing the job.'"

With reports by Stephanie DuBois and Emily Feimster.

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 2007 MARILYN BECK AND STACY JENEL SMITH

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



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