Let TV pundits masticate over “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” being demoted from network to cable. To hear star Vincent D’Onofrio tell it, the show’s move from NBC to the USA Network October 4 is full of positives. “USA is approaching it as if it’s a new show, and they’re giving us a lot more attention already as far as treating us like a new show,” says D’Onofrio.
“They’re doing all kinds of advertising, and that’s something we haven’t had for many years. So Kate Erbe and I feel real good about that starting the new season.”
He says the show won’t just have a new home when it begins its seventh season — it will have a whole new direction.
“You’re going to see more of our emotional life,” says D’Onofrio, who stars as Det. Robert Goren in “L&O: CI.” “It’s not like we’re going to start dating people. I mean intense stuff, stuff we’ve only touched upon in the past. Like we ended last season with my character’s mother’s death and the discovery that his father may have been a criminal. We also bring up Tony Goldwyn’s character, who is my brother, so all of that is going to be looked at deeper and deeper throughout the season.”
He also notes that Erbe’s character’s past will be explored. “What’s good is that we have six years behind us, and now we can let the audience look at what that back story is about these characters for the first time. So everything is working out nice. Kate and I have the opportunity to do new stuff that our fan base has been waiting for.”
RIDING THE WAVE: “Damages” star Rose Byrne reports the series’ company is down to four more episodes to shoot of the hit Glenn Close-Ted Danson legal thriller for the season, and “right now I’m so immersed I can’t quite see the light. I might spend some time in L.A. and try to get a film gig. I might take a break. If we go back for a second season, that wouldn’t be till January. I haven’t had a break since before we shot ’28 Weeks Later'” last year, says the beautiful Australian actress. “This kind of a run is incredible for an actor. I don’t want to stop because I’d be terrified that would be the end. You have to go with momentum in acting careers.”
Byrne says signing a six-year contract for the FX show did give her pause. “That was the most daunting aspect, to be honest. But the material was much better than most of the film roles I’ve been allowed to audition for, and I’d been watching cable series like ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Big Love,’ thinking, ‘I’d love to be in something really interesting like that,’ so there was no question, really.”
“Damages” shoots in New York, where Rose “met with some lawyers and did a lot of reading. I read Alan Dershowitz’ book, ‘Letters to a Young Lawyer,’ and I talked to my uncle who is a Queens Counsel in Australia” to prepare for her role as an up-and-coming attorney sucked into the tornado that is her demanding, seductive, ruthless boss played by Glenn Close. “She’s a very sweet lady, actually. Nothing like this character. But she’s certainly a consummate professional, dedicated to the work and able to engage.”
CELEB SCENE: Old school rap star and Amy Winehouse favorite Slick Rick knows how to prepare himself for a performance, apparently. Scheduled to do his thing on stage at New York’s The Plumm club the other night, he arrived early and was then seen sleeping on one of the banquettes. When given the nudge to perform, Slick Rick went up and rocked out with a killer performance, sources on the scene tell us. Maybe Britney should have tried his approach.
THE BIG SCREEN SCENE: Movie music master Hans Zimmer will be heading to China to absorb the culture and get to know the Chinese National Symphony — all as part of his preparation to compose for a forthcoming feature film that is set in that ancient land. Something on the Ming Dynasty, perhaps? Nope — for the Paramount summer 2008 release “Kung Fu Panda.” “Even the title should tell you that we ain’t in Kansas any more,” Zimmer points out. “With Jack Black as the big kung fu-fighting panda, you know it’s going to be something else.” Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie and Lucy Liu are also voice talents lined up for the movie — and hot record producer Timbaland will contribute to the soundtrack.
(With reports by Stephanie DuBois and Emily Feimster.)