- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 1, 2004

USA’s new ‘Ride’

Dennis Hopper is on the road again.

This time around, the “Easy Rider” star is the lead in a new car flick for USA Network produced by Rob Cohen, director of “The Fast and the Furious.”

“The Last Ride,” co-starring Will Patton and Fred Ward, finds Mr. Hopper playing a jailed bank robber named Ronnie Pernell who wants revenge in the worst way on the man who set him up. His son Aaron (Mr. Patton) was left in the care of the man who turned on Ronnie 30 years ago, giving Ronnie even more reason to settle the score. Now a free man, Ronnie is trying to secure his own brand of justice, while Aaron tries to keep his own son (Chris Carmack) out of his grandfather’s schemes. Alas, the lure of danger turns out to be too tempting to resist.

“The Last Ride” debuts at 8 tonight on USANetwork.

In the ‘Mix’

District native Bernice House and her fiance are the focus of tonight’s second-season debut of “Mix It Up” on WE: Women’s Entertainment.

The show, airing at 10:30 p.m. on WE, was created by Courteney Cox (“Friends”) and executive-produced by her and her husband, David Arquette. It challenges a team of designers to reconfigure a couple’s main living space while considering the pair’s contrasting lifestyles.

They’ll have to do so while adhering to a strict $2,500 budget and absorbing advice from friends and family along the way.

Miss House, who was born and raised in Southeast, moved away from the city for college, but her family remains in the District.

Sleep, Fantasia, sleep

The new “American Idol” wants something fairly ordinary these days: a little catnap.

Fantasia Barrino, the newly crowned “Idol,” told Associated Press her greatest desire is simply to get a good night’s sleep.

Once that’s out of the way, the 19-year-old plans to hit the studio to record her first single, “I Believe,” and start working on her debut album.

Miss Barrino said she hopes her first album will showcase all types of music, and she’s looking forward to writing some of her own material.

“I always said I have a story to tell, and now I can do it through my music,” Miss Barrino said.

That story includes coping with teenage motherhood and learning to provide for her 2-year-old daughter, Zion. After winning the “Idol” title on live national television May 26, Miss Barrino made brief appearances at post-finale parties but said she was soon back on “Mommy duty.”

Miss Barrino also said she doesn’t speak much with Zion’s father: “I don’t bother him, and he doesn’t bother me,” the North Carolina native said.

Just how did she resist the standard “Idol” makeover, such as the ones endured by last year’s winner Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken?

“I just always tried to be myself,” she said.

Miss Barrino will go on the road with the 11 other finalists for “American Idol Live,” starting July 14 in Salt Lake City. The tour stops at the MCI Center in the District Aug. 22.

Lahti’s ‘Revenge’

Actress Christine Lahti is learning revenge is a dish best served by a middle-aged woman.

The former “Chicago Hope” star is set to appear in “The Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman” for CBS, Reuters News Agency reports.

Based on the best-selling British novel by Elizabeth Buchan, “Revenge” centers on a woman in her late 40s (Miss Lahti) who seemingly has it all — a happy 25-year marriage, two grown children and a successful career as a book-review editor — until her husband leaves her for her young assistant.

Production will begin Monday in Los Angeles, with the original story’s setting switching from London to San Francisco.

“It’s not a heavy dramatic story; it’s much lighter,” producer Dan Wigutow told Reuters. “We thought [Miss Lahti] would be absolutely perfect for the role from the very beginning, and she was one of the people the screenwriter had in mind while writing the script.”

Miss Lahti, a frequent collaborator with CBS on long-form projects, most recently starred in the network’s TV movie “The Book of Ruth.” She next stars in the WB Network’s new series “Jack & Bobby.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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