Zap2It Interview

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It's a gamble to launch a new series on a network that's about to go out of business. Nevertheless, Rebecca Romijn is proceeding at full steam. Before returning to theater screens next month (May 2006, RRF) as the literally blue Mystique in "X-Men: The Last Stand," the model-turned-actress stars as a Chicago television reporter in "Pepper Dennis." The comedy-drama premieres Tuesday, April 4, on The WB, which will merge later this year with UPN to create the CW Network.

Like its title character, "Pepper Dennis" is eager to prove itself quickly; that might let it survive into next season with such all-but-certain WB holdovers as "Smallville" and "Gilmore Girls." Besides the ever-attractive Romijn, a major factor is audience acceptance of a rhythm and theme similar to the rival-journalist movies "His Girl Friday" and "I Love Trouble."

As the show opens, Pepper is trying to rebound from a personal misstep that could have a professional impact. Her recent one-night stand, Charlie Babcock (Josh Hopkins, "Ally McBeal"), turns out to be a new co-worker who grabbed the anchor slot she wanted. Thus, she's even more determined to make her mark so she can land the desk job she covets. The apparent fact that he covets her is unsettling, often propelling her to bend the ear of her sister and roommate, Kathy (Brooke Burns, "North Shore"), who also happens to be the station's receptionist. Other newsroom colleagues are played by Lindsay Price ("Beverly Hills, 90210"), Alexandra Barreto and Rider Strong ("Boy Meets World").

"I'm not gonna lie, I've never worked this hard in my life," the lively Romijn says with a laugh. "It's crazy, but it's also the most satisfying thing I've ever been a part of. "We shot the pilot last year, which seems like a lifetime ago. I had to shoot [the third] 'X-Men' before we could really get going on this, so we had a lot of time to think about these characters. I feel mine has become a combination of my mom and me as a little kid. When I have any question about the dialogue, I think, 'How would my mom do this when she's really manic?'"

Despite her active film career, Romijn decided to enter series television because "at this stage in my life, I didn't want to be sitting around waiting for the next movie, then leaving for three or four months. I also wanted more of a daily schedule, but first and foremost, I read the script and hadn't seen anything like this character anywhere else. I read a few other pilots and literally couldn't get past the third page of any of them. By the second page of this, I knew I wanted in."

,b>Romijn still feels that way, even if the future of "Pepper Dennis" may be uncertain in light of The WB's imminent demise. "We're all still wrapping our heads around it and what it means," she says, "but we're so busy making the show, we figure we're just going to do our thing. All we can do is our best, and what it boils down to is ratings. I just hope people see the show. As corny as this sounds, I think Pepper Dennis is a great role model for younger girls. She's also an emotional basket case. She's not perfect, but who is?"

Although she didn't do research at television networks or stations, Romijn agrees that playing a journalist often serves actresses well, as proven by others such as Candice Bergen ("Murphy Brown") and Sally Field ("Absence of Malice"). "There are so many different layers you get to play. There's the on-camera persona that usually hides a much more insecure person. You get to play someone strong and outspoken, yet she's often just a little girl inside. You get to go to all those different places, and it's really fun."

In an early scene of the series, Pepper gets sprayed blue when a paint bomb explodes, an allusion to Romijn's "X-Men" role that completely covers her in the stuff. "I think it was water-soluble and harmless," she says. "I actually brought a bottle of Mystique Blue paint from the 'X-Men' set. It was definitely a wink, and they sort of wrote that in as that. The makeup artists got such a kick out of it, they said, "Bring the paint, so we can match it exactly!' That's what we did."

Romijn says playing Mystique has meant she "basically was being paid to get painted and have stuff glued all over me and be semimiserable, and I had to surrender to that. That was my job." While the "Pepper Dennis" paint job underscores the series' humor quotient, Romijn adds, "The nice thing about this show is that it's not just pure pratfalls. We have some emotional scenes in the sister relationship, and [the link between Pepper and Charlie] evolves nicely also. They start to enjoy working with each other, and they gain a real respect for each other as professionals, without all the confusing sexual tension."

Divorced from John Stamos ("Full House") and engaged to Jerry O'Connell ("Crossing Jordan"), Romijn declares both actors "fantastic guys" but admits maintaining a relationship in the public eye isn't easy. "You roll with the punches and figure out how to keep yourself as separated as possible. Often, what's presented publicly is not what's going on at all. Sometimes, things come out and I can't believe what baloney it is. You just have to get on with your life and figure out how to make that life as great as possible."

Original article: Zap2it.com

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