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Wednesday, May 10, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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"X-Men" movie star hopes her TV series won't expire

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Rebecca Romijn is used to the blue jokes.

"Yeah, I have to talk about blue makeup a tremendous amount," she says of her role as the shape-shifting, blue-hued mutant, Mystique, in the "X-Men" films.

"But I know how much people love those movies and I'm really happy to be part of them, so for the most part, I'm happy to talk about it," she adds. "The Last Stand," the third installment of the widely followed "X-Men" franchise, arrives May 26.

Production on Romijn's new WB sitcom "Pepper Dennis" was halted for several months while she was filming "The Last Stand." So when production resumed on the romantic comedy, in which she plays the title role of a TV reporter, it was decided that Pepper would offer a wink and a nod to Mystique.

"Pepper's covering a thwarted bank robbery and ends up with a bag of money and the dye pack hasn't been detonated yet," Romijn says. "When it is, it ends up all over Pepper. Then we cut to her in the shower and you saw all the blue paint going down the drain. It was a little bit of letting go, moving on."

Although "Pepper's" midseason debut was highly anticipated — the WB ordered a full 13 episodes — its ratings have been disappointing and Romijn has been working overtime to promote more interest in her show.

"We are slugging away here," says co-creator Aaron Harberts, adding that he knows "nothing beyond that" about the fate of the sitcom.

On TV

"Pepper Dennis," 9 p.m. Tuesdays, KTWB

"We're on a very tough night. Our little show is out there kind of singing for its supper as it were," explains Harberts in a not-so-subtle reference to Fox's hugely popular "American Idol," which leads Fox to Tuesday-night domination.

Yet co-creator Gretchen J. Berg appreciates the promotional efforts of the WB, which will soon merge with UPN to form the CW network.

The WB's "in a tough position because the network is made up of people and a lot of them don't know what's next for them and the fact that they've been supportive of the show and excited about it really means a lot to us."

Romijn says the series first appealed to her because, "I was dying to do a comedy."

Reading the pilot script, she thought, "OK, this girl's craaazzzy. I like her. She sounds fun. I want to hang with her." So she "begged" for a meeting with the show's creators.

"She projected power and confidence and poise, which I think necessary to being a reporter," says Harberts. He said a lot of young actresses he met "came off as a bit presumptuous and obnoxious," but Romijn's demeanor seemed exactly right. "She's a woman, not a girl."

Romijn, 33, was born in Berkeley, Calif., and was a successful model in the U.S. and Europe before her acting career took off.

She also did some TV reporting in the late '80s, conducting interviews on the MTV fashion series "House of Style." "That was pretty good training for this," she says.

Actually, Romijn never expected to become an actress.

"All these models around me, that's all they talked about — how they were going to go and become the next movie star," she recalls. "And I just kept seeing them fall, left and right, and I was like, 'Wow, I'll never act. I don't want that to be me, I'm not going down that road.' But that road sort of opened itself up to me."

She was invited to be a guest on the sitcoms "Friends" and "Just Shoot Me," where "taping in front of a live audience was like a whole new world to me. I loved it and decided to get serious about it."

She references both "Moonlighting" and the classic movie "His Girl Friday" as influencing the "tongue-in-cheek" tone her series is trying to achieve in terms of pacing and the ambition of its title character, who wants to become an anchorwoman.

"It's always fun when characters are striving for something," says Harberts. "When I watch local news, I just get the feeling that these people are striving to be some place other than where they are."

Romijn, who was known during her marriage to actor John Stamos as Romijn-Stamos, says curiosity about her private life is "a strange thing to deal with. If you are going through something that is deeply personal and deeply painful, you certainly don't want people knowing ... but I think I've managed to keep my private life fairly private."

She does reveal, however, that she has no plans to add O'Connell to her name now that she's engaged to actor Jerry O'Connell, who plays Detective Woody Hoyt on NBC's "Crossing Jordan."

Then, just like Pepper Dennis would, a reporter pushes her luck and inquires about wedding plans.

"Honestly, I don't know. I don't have any details," Romijn insists. "It will be something very spontaneous."

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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