- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Prinze of a guy

Freddie Prinze Jr. still may look like a teen idol, but the 29-year-old plays an authority figure on his freshman ABC sitcom.

Case in point: An upcoming episode of “Freddie” finds his character, Freddie Moreno, fulfilling surrogate dad duties for his niece Zoey and her pals when their behavior turns rotten, Associated Press reports.

On the show, Mr. Prinze’s character, a successful chef planning to enjoy the bachelor high-life with rich pal Chris, has been drawn back into family responsibilities. For various reasons, his sister and her young daughter, his grandma, and his widowed sister-in-law all have moved in with him, re-enveloping him in the women’s world in which he grew up after his father abandoned the family.

Besides being the title star, Mr. Prinze also is co-creator, co-writer and co-executive producer of the show, which airs at 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, and he takes his multitasking duties very seriously.

“It’s a lot of responsibility, but I wouldn’t have it any other way … this is what I need,” he says. “There are things that I’ve done that people are so quick to take credit for, and there’s really not a lot I can do about that because of the perception of actors. So in order to protect myself, I needed everyone to understand that this is something that I love and this is something that I watch over and I protect on a daily basis.”

Famous for horror and comedy movies popular with young audiences (“I Know What You Did Last Summer,” “Scooby-Doo”), Mr. Prinze knew the TV industry would expect his sitcom character to be “that perfect guy that everyone wants to take their daughter to the prom … but that’s not exciting,” he says.

So he gave Moreno many flaws. “He’s a touch too arrogant. He’s sort of been raised a little prince, to be perfect, and he believes a bit of that, and that gets him into trouble. That’s the flaw we play up the most,” Mr. Prinze says.

Though the sitcom’s obvious goal is to “make people laugh,” its theme is structured around truths from Mr. Prinze’s own life.

He was a baby when his father, comedian Freddie Prinze, committed suicide in 1977, leaving him to grow up in a household of women, which included his Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican grandmother.

The series also reflects Mr. Prinze’s religious faith.

“This family was raised Catholic, and I think there are still some members of the family who are practicing Catholics, while others are recovering Catholics. That, to me, is a real part of America, and we wanted to represent that,” he says.

Jane’s ‘Power’ trip

Former “Ally McBeal” co-star and Tony winner Jane Krakowski has signed up for a new series revolving around the lives of Capitol Hill staffers, Reuters news agency reports.

The CBS series will be called “Sex, Power, Love & Politics.”

The actress, who drew raves for her work in the 2003 Broadway musical “Nine,” recently earned a Laurence Olivier nomination for her role in the London production of “Guys & Dolls.”

In other casting news, Cole Hauser of “2 Fast 2 Furious” fame has landed a lead role in Fox’s drama pilot “Damages,” which revolves around a group of lawyers and explores how their professional lives and cases affect their personal relationships. Also, comic mainstay Fred Willard (“Best in Show”) will appear in the CBS comedy “Play Nice,” which concerns a brother-and-sister odd couple who run a family toy company.

Lawless in space

Former “Xena” star Lucy Lawless is getting back into the fantasy business.

The brunette actress has signed on for a 10-episode story arc on the Sci Fi Channel’s red-hot series “Battlestar Galactica.” Miss Lawless will reprise the role she took this season as an investigative journalist who turns out to be an undercover agent for the villainous Cylon faction. Miss Lawless’ second appearance on the ensemble drama is slated for Feb. 24. Her arc will commence with the show’s third season, which begins production in April in Vancouver.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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