- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Independent’s day

The folks at the Independent Film Channel aren’t taking the summer off.

The cable channel has ordered two half-hour series that will premiere as part of its Summer of IFC programming, Reuters news agency reports.

“The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman” and “The Business” will premiere Aug. 4 in the 10 p.m. slot. Both have been given eight-episode orders.

“Jackie Woodman” centers on two best friends — a struggling screenwriter and an aspiring producer — who are still waiting for Hollywood to give them their big break more than 10 years after graduating from film school. The series was created by and stars comic Laura Kightlinger (She also co-stars in the upcoming HBO sitcom “Lucky Louie”).

“The Business,” from the team behind IFC’s 2005 comedy “The Festival,” follows the same ensemble cast of characters from that series as they embark on a ridiculous journey with one goal: to make a movie. The series stars Kathleen Robertson.

IFC’s summer fare also will include Pulp Indies Month in June, featuring nightly screenings of such films as “The Krays,” “Pulp Fiction,” “House of 1000 Corpses” and “Dirty Pretty Things.”

Other summer programming includes July’s Queer Month. In addition to its TV premiere of the IFC original documentary “Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema” on July 16, the network will air a monthlong festival of homosexual-themed programming. Cameo with Cage

Ever wonder what it would be like to work on a film featuring Oscar winner Nicolas Cage?

A group of 200 aspiring actors will compete for that chance as part of “Looking for Stars,” a new reality series, Associated Press reports.

The show will follow the aspiring actors from tryouts to the winner’s appearance on the set of Revolution Studios’ film “Next,” a science-fiction feature co-starring Julianne Moore and Jessica Biel.

“Looking for Stars” will bow June 19 on the Starz channel and run through September, but it won’t be a traditional show. It will air in 10-minute episodes, a concept that the network calls a microseries.

A casting call in January drew thousands of would-be participants to compete for audition spots in New York, Las Vegas, Orlando and Kansas City. Eight semifinalists ultimately got tickets to the finals in Hollywood. The winner, who will receive a speaking part in the science-fiction action film, will be chosen by actor-director Melanie Mayron of “Thirtysomething” fame, Revolution Studios executive Brad Sexton and Alan Hunter, an original MTV VJ.

“Next” is directed by Lee Tamahori (“Die Another Day”) and is scheduled for a 2007 release.

Goodbye, Marissa

Mischa Barton is happy her days at “The O.C.” didn’t end with a whimper.

The actress says it was better to be killed in a car wreck than to leave the Fox teen drama in “one of those lame farewells,” Associated Press reports.

Her Marissa Cooper character died in the arms of ex-boyfriend Ryan Atwood (Benjamin McKenzie) after Ryan lost control of his sport utility vehicle and crashed on last week’s season finale.

“Well, I was really excited that I get to die, to be honest,” the 20-year-old actress said in an interview with Newsweek magazine. “I’ve done pretty much everything else with the character. It was better than one of those lame farewells.”

Marissa had been central to “The O.C.” since the show’s debut in 2003. The Newport Beach teen had battled depression and drug and alcohol abuse, had had a brief lesbian relationship and had been expelled from her posh high school for shooting a man. Although rumors flew in recent months that Miss Barton was ready to leave the show, she says her departure was the producers’ decision.

“But I really think it’s best to do movies now,” says Miss Barton, who co-stars with Hayden Christensen in “Guilty Pleasures,” slated for release next year.

Every TV actor who ever attempted the switch to features has uttered a similar line, but not everyone can close the deal. Just ask David Caruso.

As for Miss Barton, she hopes her time on “The O.C.” is officially over.

Will she ever return to “The O.C.” in a dream sequence?

“I hope not,” she says. “That would be cheesy.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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