• "brad pitt wouldn't be getting $20m a movie if he wasn't beautiful"
Jessica Alba has criticised Hollywood for only casting stereotypically beautiful women and allowing the majority of films to be directed by men.
The actress is disgusted by the way the industry fails to present a true portrayal of the female population, and calls for more women behind the camera to end the bias.
She says: "There are a few exceptions but for the most part there are not many women making movies.
"There are not many female writers or directors either, and if you split it in half, 50% of the movies are not being headlined by women.
"I never see myself as a beautiful woman and have never traded on that to get ahead in this business. If you are semi-attractive, film-makers are going to make you more attractive.
"The fact is that people don't want to look at a leading lady who isn't pleasing to the eye - just like there aren't a lot of unattractive men in movies.
"Bad Pitt wouldn't be getting $20m or more a movie if he wasn't beautiful." back to the top
• helping kids quit smoking
Eliza Dushku is spearheading a new campaign to urge teenagers to stop smoking before it becomes a bad habit after quitting earlier this year.
The 24-year-old admits that she became hooked on smoking when she was just 13 and spent the last few years trying to kick her habit.
Now nicotine free, Dushku is one of the celebrities behind the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids organisation.
She and stars like Kelly Preston and Neve Campbell have all signed yoga mats for a forthcoming eBay auction, which will benefit the charity.
Dushku claims yoga helped control her urges for cigarettes. back to the top
• sydney to mentor new, younger agent in season 5
Alias isn't really a science-fiction/fantasy series, although the Rambaldi prophecies certainly take it close. However, it deserves the occasional mention on this site due to some of the eye candy that male viewers have been able to enjoy over the last four seasons.
Next season, another female regular joins the show, one who appears to have the "sex appeal, if you will, in different places" promised by ABC Entertainment chief Stephen McPherson earlier this week.
McPherson was speaking to TV critics, and revealed that Jennifer Garner's Sydney Bristow would be mentoring a new, younger agent this season. This would take some of the workload off Garner, whose pregnancy will be written into the show, but will also mean a reduction in stunt work and tight costumes.
The new character is Rachel Gibson, a technical analyst who works for a black-ops division of the CIA, and will be played by Rachel Nichols (right).
Nichols currently stars as FBI Agent Rebecca Locke on the Fox series The Inside, which is unlikely to be renewed after scoring meagre ratings this summer. She's also appeared in the remake of The Amityville Horror (with Alias season 3 regular Melissa George) and Dumb and Dumberer. back to the top
• "this might just shock people"
Sarah Michelle Gellar wants to ditch her teen idol image and thinks she'll score better roles if she strips off.
The actress reportedly wants to bare all on-screen before she hits 30 so fans can see her before gravity starts to hit.
"I am approaching 30 and I need a change," UK website femalefirst.co.uk quoted her as saying.
"The sort of roles I would like are not being offered, so this ... might just shock people into choosing me."
Gellar wouldn't be the first Buffy actress to get her kit off. Her predecessor as the Slayer, Kristy Swanson, appeared in the November 2002 edition of Playboy, while her co-star Charisma Carpenter appeared in the June 2004 edition.
Gellar, however, appears to be intending to keep her nudity confined to the big-screen, although this will have to wait a while.
She is set to star in Southland Tales, the follow-up release for Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly, with rumours she will play a porn star. She has also just signed on for the lead in Alice, a psychological thriller with a modern spin on the Lewis Carroll classic - a role unlikely to require too many revealing moments. back to the top
• "shannen was fabulous"
Back in April we reported that former Charmed star Shannen Doherty was in negotiations to star in Wingwoman, a UPN sitcom about a dating service.
Not only did Doherty shoot the pilot, but she even attended the upfronts in New York when the show - now renamed Love, Inc. - was unveiled to advertisers in May.
Then she was gone, but no one is saying on the record what went down.
"We decided that we were going to go in a different direction with that character," says UPN President Dawn Ostroff.
Warren Littlefield, one of the show's executive producers, also refused to shed any light. Instead, like all say-nothing network execs, he chose to publicly sing Doherty's praises. "Shannen was fabulous," Littlefield said. "[But] the network felt that Shannen wasn't the right fit for the role."
"We were bummed," says her former co-star Holly Robinson Peete. "We had an immediate chemistry and a really good time. I was very upset to hear the news." back to the top
• "that made the sex scenes nice and awkward"
Consider it a new dawn for the career of Michelle Trachtenberg. Since bidding Sunnydale adieu, Trachtenberg has sought out a wide variety of new roles to play: a devil-may-care, accidentally incestuous teen in the raucous EuroTrip, a math-turned-skating prodigy in Disney's Ice Princess, the best friend of a rent boy in the dark indie Mysterious Skin. Now, she's backon television in The Dive from Clausen's Pier, Lifetime's take on the novel about the impossible decisions a young woman named Carrie must make when her fiancé is paralysed in a swimming accident.
Assessing Carrie's predicament, Trachtenberg tells TVGuide.com, "It's a difficult situation for her because she had decided to break off their engagement just as this tragedy happens. So she is caught between what she was going to do and what she should do now."
Carrie's choice won't please Tammy Wynette. Rather than stand by her man, she makes her own needs her top priority and runs off to New York, where she has an affair with an older man (Firefly's Sean Maher). "That's why I find her so inspiring," Trachtenberg explains. "She actually listens to herself as opposed to everyone around her. She stops to say, 'What will benefit me? What will make my life better?'
"Sometimes it's necessary to be selfish," the actress adds, acknowledging Carrie's possibly unpopular decision. "You can't always be responsible. You sometimes have to think about what's better for you."
Playing Carrie's fiancé is Will Estes, whom Trachtenberg actually has known for years, albeit in a very different context. "We did a failed sitcom together, where he played my brother - so that made the [Clausen's Pier] sex scenes nice and awkward," she says with a laugh. "As if they aren't awkward enough to begin with!"
Trachtenberg won't back down from a challenge, hence the sometimes daring acting choices she has been making. "Obviously when you're younger you do roles that are exciting and fun, but now that I'm getting older I want things that are more realistic and that I find value in. Dive and Mysterious Skin were my first steps in that direction. I start my next independent movie, Four Corners, at the end of the month, and that's also in the vein on Mysterious Skin."
So, for the time being at least, no EuroTrip 2 ("Although I know it would be a stoner's dream!" Trachtenberg chuckles) and no Buffy reunion movie.
"I have friends who are writers and directors who went to Comic-Con last weekend, and when they came back they said, 'Oh, my god, everyone was still talking about Buffy!'" she relates. "That's all very nice and flattering, but once I do a character and it's a success, I'm like, 'That's awesome, thank you. Watch my next one.' I get bored way too easily. I don't have time to stop and remember what I did before just to do it again." back to the top
• six episode stint on cult upn series
Ex-Buffy and Angel star Charisma Carpenter will follow in the footsteps of her former co-star Alyson Hannigan next season by appearing on UPN's cult series Veronica Mars.
Carpenter, last seen in several episodes of Charmed, will have a recurring part in the show's second season as Kendall Casablancas, the trophy-wife stepmother to Dick and Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas - two of Veronica's (Kristen Bell) tormentors at Neptune High. The Casablancas boys also held a key to untangling the mystery of what Veronica believed was her rape the previous year.
Carpenter has been signed on for a minimum of six episodes, while former Police Academy star Steve Guttenberg will appear in at least seven as Woody Goodman, the owner of a big-league baseball team and a candidate for mayor of Neptune. His daughter, a new student at Neptune High, will also be a character, although the role has yet to be cast.
Carpenter's former Buffy co-star Alyson Hannigan appeared as Logan's older sister Trina Echolls in two episodes during season one. back to the top
• "i am who i am"
Get one thing clear about Jessica Alba in Fantastic Four, she is not the Invisible Girl.
"I see myself as a woman," says the 24-year-old actress.
"The difference, I think, is beign responsible for your actions. It's how you conduct yourself. Girls can be silly and flippant and careless, and I've always been thoughtful and reflective. Levelheaded.
"I can be silly, but that's the part of me (the public) doesn't see. I think I'm sort of a comedian, but only people really close to me get to see it."
In Fantastic Four, Alba's character can be "not seen" in the blink of an eye. The superhero movie - adapted from the very first of Marvel Comics' '60s-era comic books, which include Spider-Man and X-Men tells how Sue Storm (Alba), her scientist boyfriend Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), her hotshot pilot brother Johnny (Chris Evans) and the tough guy Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) get exposed to outer-space rays. They then become, respectively, the Invisible Woman - originally known as the Invisible Girl - the rubberised Mr. Fantastic, the fiery Human Torch, and the orange rock-man known as the Thing. After battling their enemy Dr. Doom (Julian McMahon), the FF become New York celebrities.
Alba herself is at that stage of celebrity when her very name is llike a blast of Red Bull to a generation of young men. In this spring's Sin City she played Nancy, a onetime child kidnap victim who grew up to become a stripper and fall in love with the cop (Bruce Willis) who rescued her all those years before; her performance was a tricky blend of wounded innocence, sensuality and toughness.
A scene of Alba in a bra and cowgirl chaps twirling a lasso became that movie's iconic image. It took its place alongside sexy movie moments from earlier eras like Jane Russell reclining on a pile of hay in 1943's The Outlaw and Anita Ekberg cavorting in the Trevi fountain in 1960's La Dolce Vita.
"Jessica's performance was erotic without losing any of the innocence," says Sin City co-director Robert Rodriguez. "She was at just the right moment when she was new for everybody, yet she was confident enough to pull it off. She has a timeless quality to her, that air of just becominga sexual being that the character needed."
"I think tough is sexy," Alba says. "I mean, sometimes it isn't - sometimes tough is like, 'Oh, she can kick your butt!' - but being strong-willed and strong-minded is very sexy to me."
She says those qualities are crucial in Hollywood.
"I've had to prove myself my whole life," she says. "I had to prove I was intelligent, that I could act, that I could do drama and action. My next thing is to prove to people that I can do comedy."
Alba's mother is Danish-French Canadian and her father is Mexican-American. She was born in Pomona, east of Los Angeles, but spent her early years in Mississippi and Texas where her dad, who was in the Air Force, was stationed; her younger brother, Joshua, who has also started acting, was born in Biloxi, Miss., in 1982.
When the family moved back to the L.A. suburbs, Alba took up acting at age 12 to escape childhood pressures, she says. "I was not really accepted when I was a kid. I was made fun of. I looked different, I guess; kids are kids. So I know what it's like to be that person that everyone is talking about.
"I wanted to just have my own life," she continues. "On my first day on the set of a 1994 kids' movie called Camp Nowhere, I realised that this is what I want to do. I wasn't a child actor. Yet I wanted to be a good actress, from day one."
After six years of supporting roles in movies and on TV, Alba finished high school early and attended a summer workshop run by David Mamet's Atlantic Theater Company.
She auditioned for director-producer James Cameron and won the lead role in his Fox series Dark Angel; she played Max, a genetically engineered young renegade in the year 2020.
Lasting two seasons, the cult hit propelled Alba onto magazine covers and posters. Her skin-tight blue spandex outfit in Fantastic Four will likely do the same.
"It was really uncomfortable," she says. "Wow, it was tight. Good posture was important - if you were making your stomach lazy, you could really see it. When I didn't stand like a superhero, shoulders back, back straight, it looked sloppy."
"We wanted to give Sue Storm an upgrade to the 21st century," says Four director Tim Story. "I thought I'd have to work with Jessica on bringing out the surrogate mom aspect of the character, but she told me she's the oldest of 20 cousins, and that maturity came through."
Fantastic Four also brought Alba the man she says is her "soul mate" - Cash Warren, 26, who worked at Story's assistant. Alba says he isn't intimidated by her slinky screen persona.
"No, he doesn't think of me like in Sin City," she says with a laugh. "Cash loves me so much, though. And I love him. We're just really right for each other. It's seamless. And it's nice to know that you can connect with someone."
At this point, though, there are no marriage plans.
"I haven't been shopping for rings," she says.
Alba will next be seen as a diver in Into the Blue, an aquatic action thriller opening this fall. After that, she'll probably star in Sonic as a waitress who dies and is revived by her boyfriend.
"I know people will see something different in me each time," she says. "And at the end of the day, the question is, Are you okay with yourself? I really don't care about (fame) that much. It's not seductive, not for me, and it doesn't define me. I am who I am." back to the top
• "i am not dating anybody"
Angelina Jolie says she "thinks the world" of Brad Pitt - but never slept with him.
"We got on great," Jolie says of her Mr. and Mrs. Smith co-star in the July issue of Marie Claire. But as far as anything past friendship, she says, "absolutely not."
"To be intimate with a married man, when my own father cheated on my mother, is not something I could forgive," she says. "I could not, could not look at myself in the morning if I did that."
Pitt, 41, separated from Jennifer Aniston in January after 4½ years of marriage. Aniston filed for divorce in March, citing irreconcilable differences.
Tabloids immediately speculated on the Jolie factor. When photos of Pitt, Jolie and her 4-year-old son Maddox walking together on a beach in Africa were published in April, it was taken as proof of a romance.
Instead, Jolie says she's single, and concentrating on her son.
"I am not dating anybody. I think the next man I get involved with would have to become Mad's father, and that's a high bar as far as I'm concerned. I'm not anticipating that coming anytime soon."
Her marriages to Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton ended in divorce.
The 29-year-old actress has also continued her spirited support of African refugees as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations.
"I have seen progress in the issues that I care about, and I've started to see how I can make a difference." back to the top
• "it is just great to be working"
Earlier this year, Jessica Alba lassoed her way through the critically acclaimed film, Sin City. Now in one of this summer's promised blockbusters, she takes on the role of Sue Storm in the film adaptation of Marvel Comics' longest-running series, Fantastic Four.
"I like how they use the powers and made them so human," Alba tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith. "That's why I was attracted to this comic book because her abilities come from her emotions. It is not just, 'Oh, Yeah. She's a superhero and becomes invisible and does force fields.' When she's pushed up against the wall, she realises she can do it by accident. It just feels more natural."
The four characters: The Human Torch (Chris Evans), The Thing (Michael Chiklis), The Invisible Girl (Jessica Alba), and Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Grufford) are sort of a dysfunctional superhero family.
"They look at their abilities as it's a defect, essentially," Alba explains. "They get hit with this cosmic storm. They were supposed to study the cosmic storm to cure diseases. It hit them and pulled apart their DNA and put them back together. They, all of a sudden, are superheroes. At first, she's like: 'I'm going invisible. What's this about?'"
But Alba is anything but invisible. Her photo has been on the cover of almost every magazine in America this year. Recalling her childhood, she says she has come a long way.
"I didn't fit in. I had no friends. I was a dork," she says. "My dad was, like, 'Do you remember those girls that left you outside the house? They were supposed to come and you were supposed to go trick-or-treating with them and they ditched you. You were waiting out there till like 2 in the morning.' I was waiting out on the lawn till 2 in the morning crying. That was my childhood."
Today, she says she has left all that behind and life is good. Being in the middle of the fish bowl means being employed, she says.
"It's nice," she explains. "I spent so many nights crying to my dad and we would go on these long walks. I would be like, 'Dad, I don't know if I can do this for a living. What if they don't like me? What if I suck?' And he's like, 'Don't worry; you stick in it; it will be OK. And you'll get jobs.' And so this is just real nice."
The hard work has paid off, she notes.
"Doing Dark Angel, I worked so hard," she says. "I worked 90 hours a week. Didn't sleep very much. I was very dedicated - 10 and-a-half months a year. I had no family around me, no friends. I know what it is like to work really hard and just struggle through it and get your name out there.
"I love to do this. This is what I've always wanted to do for a living. So it's honestly just great, whether people embrace me, whether it's guys or girls. I like that I'm doing more like Self magazine and Marie-Claire. I wanted to reachout to women because I love strong women. I want to produce and enable women to direct and write and star in more movies. That's my goal later on. Right now it is just great to be working." back to the top
• "i'm not scared to use physical force"
Jessica Alba has warned love rivals not to mess with her boyfriend Cash Warren - because she'll happily get physical when her jealousy kicks in.
The Fantastic Four star admits she's not happy to share her man and will fight off other girls who flirt with him at parties.
She says, "I get so jealous. I've actually never been as protective over anybody as I am over him... Hopefully, I won't ever need to use any physical force 'cos that would be bad... but I'm not scared to.
"Nobody's making change with Cash but me. I can hold my own. My grandmother is very protective and she sort of taught me how to be protective of your man.
"Whenever women would try to chat up my grandfather and try to be sexy around my grandfather my grandmother would come out in her shortest little Daisy Duke shorts - and she has a fabulous body, she was a dancer - and she would just dance around in front of my grandfather's friends and just sort of give it to them." back to the top
• "i don't feel comfortable being naked around other people"
Jessica Alba refuses to strip off on screen, as she is desperate to be praised for her acting prowess instead of her body.
And the Fantastic Four actress insists she is not the only star who can be sexy without resorting to nude scenes.
She says, "I don't do nudity, I never do nudity."
"I just don't feel comfortable being naked around other people. Julia Roberts doesn't do nudity. A lot of people don't.
"I'm more into being intelligent, sophisticated and heartfelt, and if it comes across as sexual that's fine, but it's never my goal." back to the top
• "you have to be responsible for yourself"
Jessica Alba says she's embarrassed about her performances in her early movies Paranoid and Sleeping Dictionary and wishes she had stood up more to film-makers.
Alba's desire to work with non-American crews, directors and actors meant she was pressurised into performances she wasn't happy with.
The Fantastic Four star recalls, "I was too young to put my foot down and tell the directors what I really wanted to do.
"Dark Angel really taught me to be steadfast in my opinions.
"At the end of the day, the director isn't up on screen, the producers aren't up on screen. The other actors are only responsible for their performances. You have to be responsible for yourself." back to the top
• "i was more concerned about playing her with strength and integrity"
Jessica Alba has slammed critics of Fantastic Four, for filling internet message boards and fansites with racist complaints about her casting.
The Sin City star dyed her hair blonde for her part as Sue Storm, because the superhero is a fair, white-skinned siren in the original comic book stories.
But Alba is horrified Fantastic Four fans are still upset about her Latina features, despite her acting skills.
She complains, "Everyone criticised Hugh Jackman who played Wolverine. Everyone criticised Tobey Maguire as the choice for Spider-Man.
"If people get caught up in the fact that I'm half-Latina or whatever, that's their problem.
"I was more concerned about playing her the way she needed to be played - with strength and integrity." back to the top
• "she's a woman in a man's world"
Jessica Alba seems to be cornering a sizeable chunk of the market these days when it comes to playing strong comic-book characters. The petite star, who first kicked and punched her way onto the scene in James Cameron's Dark Angel, most recently appeared as a sultry stripper in the hard-core Sin City.
Now she's back onscreen as action heroine Susan Storm (aka the Invisible Woman) in Fantastic Four, the eagerly awaited adaptation of the long-running Marvel comic books series.
"This film is different from other comic-book films, as it's a very uplifting family movie," Alba says. "Most comic-book movies are a lot darker - and this isn't trying to be anything than what it is. It's the most popular Marvel comic in history, and I think the reason why is the wide range of people it appeals to."
The story starts when astronaut and scientist Dr. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), who is studying the human genetic code, heads a mission to outer space funded by an old college rival, Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon), now a billionaire industrialist. Along for the adventure are Richards' best friend and astronaut Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis); Sue Storm (Alba), Von Doom's director of genetic research and Reed's ex-girlfriend; and Sue's impetuous younger brother, pilot Johnny Storm (Chris Evans).
But the mission goes horribly wrong when the crew is caught in a storm of intense cosmic radiation that forever changes their DNA and gives them superpowers: Reed, now Mr. Fantastic, is able to stretch himself into any shape; Ben becomes the rock-like Thing; Johnny picks up some pyrotechnic skills as The Human Torch; and Sue is able to make herself invisible.
All these newly acquired powers come in handy when the "fantastic four" find themselves up against their former benefactor, who, after also having come in contact with the radiation, has morphed into the evil Dr. Doom.
"So it's an interesting setup, as all the characters are relatable, there's a strong family dynmaic, and it is a very conservative comic book," Alba says. "It's not edgy, like a Sin City. In fact, it couldn't be more opposite."
The film's story line held a large part of the appeal for Alba.
"Whenever I get to play a character who's intelligent and sophisticated and conservative, that's my favourite," she says, "and that's Susan Storm, whom I love. For a start, she's really a woman in a man's world. It's not unlike Hollywood - which is also a boy's world. And she's head of genetic research in a field where most scientists are men, and so part of her ability to go invisible, which she thinks of as a disability, is that no one sees her, because she's in this man's world. Whenever she has an extreme emotion, she goes invisible, and I tie that to the feeling that women, because they're emotional, tend to get brushed aside and discredited."
Like her alter ego, Alba admits to being "very emotional and definitely in touch with my emotions." She stresses, however, that she never lets that emotion "get in front of logic - and neither does Sue, and that's what I really like about her. She's very logical, pretty diplomatic, but isn't afraid to tell you the truth."
And like her character, Alba is the only girl in an all-male cast. "Which was really great, as they're all such gentlemen, and I like to hang with guys," she says. "I can talk about sports and do all that. I used to be quite a tomboy, in fact."
Alba readily admits that while she's also love to have invisible powers in real life, creating them for the film was "very, very tedious. We'd have to shoot those scenes three times each, first with Ioan by himself while I just stood by the camera, as they weren't sure at what point I'd go invisible. Then he'd leave and I'd do it all over again, as if he was still there."
But Alba's job was still easy compared with playing The Thing. "That was horrible," she says. "Poor Michael had to wear 60 pounds of latex, it was very claustrophobic, and he couldn't even sit down in the suit. So I had it easy. My worst thing was wearing contacts, and that didn't bother me at all." back to the top
• "8 simple rules" star is new regular
8 Simple Rules star Kaley Cuoco (right) is joining the cast of Charmed next season.
The 19-year-old actress joins as a regular, playing a young witch under the tutelage of Piper, Phoebe and Paige.
In addition to Cuoco, the eighth season of Charmed will feature Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath, who has signed on to do a multiepisode arc. back to the top