- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2004

Cool as Ice

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’s” Ice-T doesn’t mind shooting episodes when he only has a handful of lines. The checks always clear no matter how much — or how little — acting the part demands.

Tonight’s episode is different, though, the actor promised during a phone teleconference .

“I don’t mind getting the ball, either,” he says. “I’m not afraid of taking the reins.”

Ice-T’s character, Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola, plays a critical role in tonight’s story, focusing on an exorcism that leaves a young child dead. Was the death related to the attempted faith healing or the product of long-term child abuse?

Malinda Williams (Showtime’s “Soul Food”) guest-stars as the child’s foster mother, and Julie Hagerty (“Airplane!”) portrays a social worker. “SVU” airs at 10 on NBC.

The actor and occasional rapper, now 46, says he’s come a long way from his early screen work.

“When I came into the acting thing, I got dropped into it,” Ice-T says. Being on a regular series, “you’re working every day; it can’t do anything but [make you] act better. You gain confidence,” he adds.

It’s hard to imagine the street-smart rapper lacking chutzpah.

He’s the same man who enraged a good chunk of the country when his song “Cop Killer” hit the streets in the mid-‘90s.

To hear Ice-T tell it, officers seem to have forgiven him — especially now that he’s made a career playing cops on big and small screens.

“Cops like me playing cops,” Ice-T says, in part because he plays them as such tough, no-nonsense characters.

“I haven’t had anybody say ‘You shouldn’t be playing a cop,’” he says.

He credits show creator Dick Wolf, lord of the “Law & Order” franchise, for letting him trust his instincts.

“He told me, ‘You’ve got so much to say about the cops, show us how to do it right,’” he says.

Ice-T may be an establishment actor these days, given his presence in such a respected franchise, but he still likes to make trouble when the mood strikes. He even tweaked Mr. Wolf’s pride and joy to the assembled reporters listening in on his phone rants.

“If you watch [SVU] long enough, you can figure it out,” he says of the show’s plots. “Whoever me and [Richard] Belzer beat up, they didn’t do it.”

Meanwhile, Ice-T hasn’t abandoned his musical instincts despite his acting chores. His next album, titled “SMG” (Sex, money and guns), is coming soon, he promises.

He’s also planning a new disc with Body Count, his side-project band, which produced the infamous “Cop Killer” track.

“In acting, you’re always somebody else,” Ice-T says. “People never get a chance to know you.

“With music, they get under my skin to know what I’m thinking.”

It’s hardly a shock to learn which way his thoughts go regarding the latest round of media scrutiny over the antics of Janet Jackson, Howard Stern, et al.

“I think radio and televisions are built with these nobs called off and on,” he says. “The airwaves are filled with a lot of craziness, but we don’t have to listen to them.”

Politics, he adds, have plenty to do with the latest crackdown.

“You’ve got an election year, they gotta pull out everything,” he notes.

Not surprisingly, he also sounded off on today’s music scene, particularly his old turf.

“I miss the social commentary in hip-hop,” Ice-T says, ticking off former rap giants such as Ice Cube, KRS-One and Public Enemy. “I don’t wanna sound like an old fogey; I dance to Eminem and 50 Cent, too, but it’s pretty much dance music now, it’s not saying something that will move somebody,” he says.

Crow on ‘Hill’

Fortysomething rock queen Sheryl Crow goes the cross-promotional route once more with an appearance on the WB’s “One Tree Hill.”

Miss Crow will appear as herself and perform her latest single, “The First Cut is the Deepest,” on tonight’s episode. The installment finds Nathan (James Lafferty) trying to decide which of his parents to live with following their divorce and Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) discovering a new, unexpected romance.

“One Tree Hill,” the WB’s freshman drama, airs at 9 p.m.

Mizrahi newest talker

Isaac Mizrahi usually lets his fashions do the talking for him. Now the designer and TV host is working on a potential syndicated talk show with NBC Enterprises, Reuters News Agency reports.

Mr. Mizrahi has been hosting “The Isaac Mizrahi Show” on the Oxygen Network for the past three years.

An award-winning designer, he rose to fame in 1995 as the subject of director Douglas Keeve’s acclaimed documentary “Unzipped,” which won an audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. In 2000, Mr. Mizrahi wrote and starred in the off-Broadway show “Les MIZrahi.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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