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Robert David Hall Finally Gets to Kiss the Girl on ‘CSI'/Dustin Hoffman's 2012 ‘Luck' Series Goes Deep Inside Race World

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Marg Helgenberger is just now shooting her last couple of episodes of "CSI" before she leaves the long-running series. Robert David Hall acknowledges that it's another big cast change, and he's going to miss her: "She's a friend. She's like a sister. I've known her for 12 years now. But of course, I support her decision to move on and try new things, and I'm looking forward to working with Elisabeth Shue."

The series, of course, has had quite a few comings and goings in recent years. Hall admits he still misses William Petersen, and Laurence Fishburne, who is a good friend of his. But now, "I've really come to love Ted Danson," Hall says. "He's such a generous actor and such an interesting actor. You watch him and wonder, 'What is he going to do next?' As D.B. Russell, he'll be talking to you but looking at something else. It's almost like he has ADD, going off on some seemingly unrelated thing. But he always comes back around to solving the crime, and you like going on the ride with him.

"It's a funny thing about change and about time marching on. I think you have to honor what about the show works, but you have to be bold about pushing the envelope, too," adds Hall. "I don't think the changes are negative. We still have a good audience, and the show is huge overseas."

Hall has just finished shooting the Dec. 14 episode of "CSI" — a huge episode for his Dr. Robbins character. In fact, it's the episode no fan of Doc Robbins should miss.

"We finally deal with the white elephant of Doc Robbins' disability. We go to Doc Robbins' house, see him take his prosthetic off," Hall reports. "He's in real pain — not physical pain, but mental pain. There's strong psychic torture the character is going through." Things aren't good at the Robbins house, you see, since "a naked dead guy is found in Doc Robbins' bed, and they suspect his wife (Wendy Crewson) of complicity, shall we say. It's a very twisted journey to the end."

And Hall loved it. "For two weeks, I got treated like a leading man," he tells us with a laugh. "I even got to kiss the girl. I've done 260 episodes, and it's the first time I got to kiss the girl."

MEANWHILE: By the time you read this, Hall should be in Washington, D.C., for tonight's (Dec. 1) 25th Anniversary Gala Victory Awards. He's being honored at the event, which benefits the National Rehabilitation Hospital. A tireless advocate for actors and others with disabilities, Hall has also paid many visits to Walter Reed Army Hospital and Bethesda Naval Hospital. "My entire family is steeped in Navy tradition," says the actor, who has a number of relatives who were Naval Academy graduates.

HOOFING IT: Dennis Farina tells us that working alongside Dustin Hoffman in HBO's eagerly awaited "Luck" horse racing drama, from Michael Mann and David Milch, has been an eye-opening experience.

"It really gives an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at horse racing and what is becoming of the race tracks in the country, and what we need to do to save them," says Farina, who plays Hoffman's right-hand man in the 2012 series.

"It also involves the personal lives of the trainers, owners and jockeys," Farina says. "It's been really interesting to see how they treat these horses, these beautiful creatures, the care they take with these animals, how they're kept, how many races they can run, how much the veterinarians are involved." Before he got involved in "Luck," Farina says, "I only knew how to bet on them."

LOOK OUT FOR THIS ONE: "Revenge" tastes sweet for Emily Alyn Lind, who tells us, "I'm really excited about my character right now. She's getting really juicier, more complicated. She's been happy. Now she's more angry. Maybe more revengeful. I think she started her revenge plan at a young age."

Lind ought to know. She plays the childhood version of Emily VanCamp's character in the popular ABC potboiler inspired by "The Count of Monte Cristo." The amazingly self-possessed 9-year-old tells us that she and VanCamp clicked right away. "We really connected during (the shooting of) the pilot. She was so nice, like my big sister or mom, on the set. My name is Emily, and her name is Emily, and the character's name is Emily, so when someone called 'Emily,' you never knew who they meant."

The young Emily has a current list of assignments and airdates that could be the envy of full-grown actors everywhere. She's the voice of Prep in "Prep and Landing: Naughty vs. Nice," which premiers on ABC Monday (Dec. 5). On Dec. 12, she'll be seen in the Hollywood Christmas Parade when it's shown on the Hallmark Channel, which is also rerunning her "November Christmas" from last year.

But Lind won't be around to watch all that because she's busy in Canada making the movie "White Trash Christmas" with Meat Loaf. "When they said 'Meat Loaf,' my mom started screaming. I didn't know what she meant. I thought they were talking about cooking," admits Lind. She also has horror flick "The Haunting in Georgia" and big-screen drama "Learning to Fly" (working title) in the can.

In the latter, she plays Maggie Gyllenhaal's daughter and acts opposite Viola Davis as well. "Maggie Gyllenhaal is the best movie mom probably ever," Lind lets us know. "She couldn't have been nicer. And Viola Davis — the exact same thing. When we were on the set, I told her I want to direct and write, and she signed a contract saying she would act in my movie." Now there's a smart kid.

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

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM



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