Sam Elliott

By Tony Rizzo
HOLLYWOOD — “November Christmas,” which aired Nov. 28, was a ratings hit for CBS. The DVD of the Hallmark TV movie blew out of its stores across the country, and back orders have necessitated an unexpected second shipping. “Daily Variety,” the show biz bible, had this to say about the film: “A bit like fellow sexagenarian Tom Selleck, Sam Elliott has somehow managed to suspend the aging process except in a most flattering of ways, while losing none of his laconic charm. He’s the linchpin of the movie’s appeal.”

When I talked with Sam, he told me, “When I’m not working, we go to Oregon to spend time with my mother.” The “we” refers to his wife, Katharine Ross (of “The Graduate” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” fame). He added, “It’s difficult juggling career and family, but I’m a son first and foremost, and we love spending time with my mother.” Sam doesn’t do a lot of TV, but admitted, “I wanted to do ‘November Christmas’ to work with director Robert Harmon, who directed Tom Selleck’s Jesse Stone movies, as well as John Corbett and Karen Allen.”

Upcoming for him are “The Big Bang” with Antonio Banderas and James Van Der Beek, and “The Apologist” with Giavani Ribusi and Kathy Baker. You may have recognized his voice from “Marmaduke” (he was Chipadogra) and endless Ford commercials. His other Xmas movie, “Prancer,” is shown every year during the holidays. I’ve known Sam for 40 years and can honestly say he’s one of the nicest, most down-to-earth guys you’ll ever meet. How many people can YOU say that about?
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More actors are owning a piece of the rock by producing films they star in. Jonah Hill (“Get Him to the Greek” and “Megamind”) and Channing Tatum (“G.I. Joe”) have announced they’ll co-executive produce a big-screen version of the late ’80s Johnny Depp series, “21 Jump Street.” Meanwhile, Josh Brolin will produce, direct and star in an adaptation of Dominique Cierri’s play “Pitz and Joe” for Warner Brothers.

“Doctor Who” fans who are looking for David Tennant (he was “Doctor Who” before Matt Smith, the current time lord), can look forward to “United,” a true story about Manchester United’s Busby Babes soccer team. Tennant found the perfect way to shed his Doctor Who image by playing “Hamlet” to rave reviews on the London stage, which PBS showed recently.

Brace yourselves, on St. Patrick’s Day, plans are set to release “Lord of the Dance” with its creator and star Michael Flatley in — are you ready? — 3D. What are they going to do … kick their feet into our faces?

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© 2010 King Features Synd., Inc.