Buzz Over New Cut (Bill Brioux, Toronto Sun)


Not since that incident between Samson and Delilah has there been this much fuss about a haircut.

We're talking about Felicity's Keri Russell, who cropped her magnificent cascading locks at the start of this season.

 The new 'do was the main topic of conversation during a visit to the Felicity set by about 70 TV critics from across North America. The entire cast sat on directors' chairs on the main sound stage, right in front of the Dean & Deluca cafe.

 "I think it was a good idea," says Russell about her haircut. "For the character it was a brave, crazy, sudden, extreme thing to do. Those are all things a girl in college might do. I think it was quite appropriate."

 Russell says it made sense for her as well as her character. "Just moving outside your comfort zone is a good thing and definitely that long hair was how I was identified. It was liberating for me."

 The idea for the close-cropped look came after Russell sent executive producer J. J. Abrams a postcard of herself sporting short hair last summer. "It was a wig," says Abrams. "The card said, 'They say it will grow back by fall. I'm having the best summer ever.' I nearly had a heart attack."

 The rest of the cast seemed a little less interested in the hair questions. "I'm shocked it's that big a deal," says Scott Speedman, who plays Ben. "I know she had beautiful hair but, hey, she looks pretty good now, don't you think?"

 The former Toronto resident looked as though he didn't even comb his hair, let alone cut it. The dude had major bedhead happening for the 9 a.m. press conference. The wrinkled white shirt with the permanently rolled arms added to the casual look.

 Speedman's a lot less casual about his career. He co-stars with Gwyneth Paltrow, Maria Bello and Paul Giamatti in the upcoming feature film, Duets." I play a Zen-ed out cab driver," says Speedman, who shot the film in Vancouver.

 He says he won't even read any of the Scream 4 scripts that come his way. "All the stuff I want I'm going to have to fight with the big kids for," says Speedman, 24.

 He says his own character is going to start drinking and getting into all sorts of trouble. "He's going to be more of a kid," says Speedman. "It's just more realistic. I know I got into trouble all the time when I was at college," says Speedman,who left school to pursue acting full time after his first year.

 Abrams acknowledges that he and the other producers may have wrapped up the Ben-Felicity story too quickly this season, and that, for a few episodes at least, the entire show had lost its focus. "When we realized that the stories weren't quite jelling the way we wanted them to, we went to UCLA and just wandered around and talked to college students," says Abrams. "What was amazing was that they were all going through what we were writing about. They were lost; they didn't quite know what they were doing; they were having sex with people they didn't want to have sex with; they were going to parties; they felt stupid; they were cutting their hair; they felt ugly -- it was like, oh great -- this isn't helping at all."

 However, ultimately, it did help. "We have to make sure Felicity feels directed again," he says. Translated, that means less emphasis on sex, more on self awareness.

 That doesn't mean that the only risks they'll be taking is cutting hair or cutting classes. Towards the end of the month, an entire episode will be shot in black and white in the style of the old Twilight Zone series.


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