- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 2, 2005

Missy’s high ‘Road’

Hip-hop artist Missy Elliott has plenty to share with the next generation of songwriters.

The judge and co-executive producer of the new reality series “The Road to Stardom With Missy Elliott” learned a great deal — both from surviving domestic abuse and becoming a Grammy winner.

Her new show, debuting Wednesday on UPN, gathers 13 aspiring stars who travel cross-country by bus with Miss Elliott; living together and competing for the chance to become the next singing sensation.

Or so the network hopes.

Each week one contender will be eliminated until the final winner, who will land a record contract, $100,000 and a released single.

Miss Elliott, whose debut album “Supa Dupa Fly” helped jump-start her ascent into superstardom, grew up an only-child in a home of diverse musical tastes.

“My father was into R&B; music and soulful music. My mother was into gospel music, so you can imagine what the household was like,” she told Scripps Howard News Service. “You’ve got gospel playing real loud in one room. And then you’ve got Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’ playing in another room. But it was like I was in between both worlds of music. So I always had that love of that.”

Miss Elliott says that her mother’s strength of character has served as an inspiration to her beyond music.

“I got a mother who’s very strong after taking the whippings that she took from my father,” Miss Elliott says of her mother, who she describes as both sweet and resolute.

“She will never let you run her over… I think I picked up a lot of that from her, seeing her being very dependent on someone, to not depending on anybody and having to make her way herself.”

Leery Lombard

When it comes to the grittier aspects of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” co-star Louise Lombard prefers to pretend she’s done her homework — instead of actually do it.

One of the show’s producers suggested that the actress visit a morgue to prepare her for the role of the new crime scene investigator on the hit CBS show.

“I turned to her and said, ‘That’s where the acting comes in,’” Miss Lombard told Associated Press. “There’s no way I’m going to see a corpse just in the name of research. I’m dedicated, but not that dedicated.”

Miss Lombard became a household name in the United Kingdom on the BBC series “The House of Elliott.” She also had a co-starring role in the movie “Hidalgo” and now gets significant exposure as part of CBS’ moneymaking franchise.

On “CSI,” she plays an investigator demoted to work on the graveyard shift with star William Petersen.

“She’s not a scientist by instinct,” Miss Lombard, 34, told TV Guide. “She’s a cop. Her interest is in justice.”

‘Mystery’ redux

When it rotated the likes of Peter Falk’s “Columbo” and Rock Hudson’s “McMillan and Wife” on NBC in the 1970s, the “Mystery Movie” was one of TV’s most popular formats.

Now it’s making a return. Hallmark Channel will introduce an updated “Mystery Movie” franchise with a trio of episodes beginning Friday , notes the entertainment Web site, zap2it.com, with Kellie Martin reprising her earlier TV movie role as a sleuthing bookstore owner in “Mystery Woman.”

The following Friday, Jan. 14, John Larroquette makes his “Mystery” debut as a cop-turned-attorney in “McBride.” And finally, on Jan. 21, Lea Thompson portrays a housewife and mom called back to active duty as a government agent in “Jane Doe.”

The three shows will continue to alternate weekly in the same order.

Miss Martin says playing amateur sleuth Samantha Kinsey again “feels like a series to me, just like ‘Life Goes On’ or ‘Christy.’ I’m working with the same people every day.”

However, some cast members have changed from the original film. Miss Martin’s close friend Nina Siemaszko (“The West Wing”) now plays Samantha’s assistant district attorney pal, and Clarence Williams III (“The Mod Squad”) is cast as the bookstore’s manager, who still has many tricks up his sleeve from his days as a secret agent.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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