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Give Up and Get "Carnivále"

Cynthia Ettinger is glad she was fired from "Smallville" two years ago. Otherwise she'd now be playing Martha Kent (Annette O'Toole replaced her after the pilot was done) rather than Rita Sue Dreifuss, a tough-as-nails middle-aged cooch dancer whose two teenage daughters perform alongside her in HBO's intriguing Dust Bowl carny series "Carnivále."

Indeed, after being axed from the hit WB show -- a relief, she said, because she was making herself miserable trying to please several different producers rather than just insisting on her own take on the role -- the tall, busty, blonde Ettinger did the opposite of a career move: She gained weight and did theatre. "Theatre people are my people," she said. "When I first started doing television, I wanted to kill myself--they just weren't my people."

With edgy, ambitious writing and a gritty, smoky shoot in Santa Clarita over the summer, "Carnivále" ending up feeling closer to a theatre job, she said. "The cast is made up of people who are willing to do anything," she said. "There's no room for divas who need to make sure their feet don't hurt. And it's great to do a job where you don't have to worry what you look like.

"I spent so many years trying to fit into a mold--to be just regular and pretty, so nobody would know I'm eccentric. When I finally said, I'm through with that, it's not working for me, I get the greatest role of my life, and it's perfect for me."

Even in an industry built on fakery, truth can be stronger than fiction.

Oct 31, 2003 at 02:33 PM by Rob Kendt in Television | Permalink

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