NEWSMAKERS

Q&A: Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates scared the bejesus out of us in "Misery" and transfixed us in "About Schmidt." Now she's playing a fallen talk-show host in "Little Black Book," with Brittany Murphy. She spoke with NEWSWEEK's Nicki Gostin.

Your character is a talk-show host. Did you research by watching a lot of daytime TV?

I confess to having watched a lot of daytime TV over the years--so I felt like I'd done my research.

Who's your favorite?

I love Oprah. She's my favorite, although I've sort of got a little bit hooked on Dr. Phil. I love it when he gets p.o.'d.

Is it true that you're a voice in a "Popeye" car- toon movie?

My manager calls me and says, "You get to play a sea siren," and I said, "That's great! Send me the script." So I'm reading it, and it's not a sea siren. It's a sea-hag siren, which means she's mainly a hag but she impersonates a siren every once in a while. I was absolutely crushed because do I have to be typecast in cartoons? I mean, really.

How did your life change after "Misery"?

I couldn't get hired for a couple of years. All I got was offers to do those kind of parts and I was, "Been there, done that."

Did you have problems getting dates?

[Laughs] Yup, still do. This guy who I was dating last year was one of the few men I've ever met who hadn't seen it.

Did you tell him he couldn't see the movie?

Yes, and he got highly offended. He said, "Don't you think I can't tell the difference between reality and a movie?" And I said, "No, really trust me, you can't see this film."

You've directed "Six Feet Under." What do you like about directing?

I like working with the actors, and I like figuring out how I'm going to frame something.

Does it bother you when a framed painting is crooked?

Oh, yes! I've been going through my drawers. I now have wooden boxes in my drawers. I just let myself go, and be the totally organized person I've always wanted to be.

The No-Wedding Singer

Brandy may want to reach out to Halle and Britney now that her ex has aired the couple's dirty laundry to the world. Early last week Brandy's baby's daddy, record producer Robert Smith, revealed that the couple's marriage was a sham concocted to shield the star from the shame of having a baby out of wedlock--a sham that the couple enacted on an MTV special. Last week, on Wendy Williams's radio show, Smith said he was never in love with Brandy, and was actually splitting his nights between his steady girlfriend and Brandy when the pop star became pregnant.

The couple announced they were married in 2001. Immediately there were raised eyebrows--even their strained body language was scrutinized. Brandy had broken up with singer Tyrese; many thought he was the father of her 2-year-old daughter, Sy'rai. Brandy says that she and Smith had a "spiritual union." She accuses Smith of using the story to promote his artists. Brandy's been open about various travails--breakups, a reported nervous breakdown, an eating disorder. Here's hoping, for her sake, this is the end of them.

Tour de Lance

It turns out there are actually three certainties in life: death, taxes and Lance Armstrong. Late last week the 32-year-old cyclist and cancer survivor was poised to win a record-breaking sixth straight Tour de France, barring a Sunday-morning catastrophe. If this latest victory wasn't quite the spine-tingler that 2003's was, it's because the entire race had an air of inevitability about it. Armstrong reclaimed the tour leader's yellow jersey right on schedule--in the Alps, after stage 15--and then slammed the door shut before anyone could object. It was a far cry from last year, when a frustrated Armstrong often admitted he wasn't at his best and had to claw past Germany's Jan Ullrich for the win. That struggle (and, perhaps, the company of new girlfriend Sheryl Crow) lit the fire for his merciless ride in 2004. Add this to the Armstrong legend: he made history, and he made it look easy.

Is This Lex Luthor's Revenge?

The new 'Superman' movie's bizarre saga goes on. Last week Warner Brothers fired director McG because he doesn't like to fly. (really.) A history of the players:

TIM BURTON

Nicolas Cage was set to star, but the budget spooked execs

MCG (ROUND 1)Then a hot MTV director, he quit to make 'Charlie's Angels'

BRETT RATNER 'Rush Hour' helmer's $200 million budget got nixed

MCG (ROUND 2) Studio wanted to film Down Under to save $$. McG didn't.

BRYAN SINGER It's his. Hope it stays that way: he dumped 'X-Men 3' for it.

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