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A desperate search for the scoop on 'Housewives'

It is party time. I'm told "Desperate Housewives" parties have replaced "Sex and the City" parties on Sunday nights.

I was at a "Desperate Housewives" party like no other this summer in Los Angeles, trying to uncover details about the second season of this dark comedy set in suburbia, which premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday on WKBW-TV.

Actually, it was ABC's press tour party for all its shows. But Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria, Marcia Cross and Nicollette Sheridan attracted the most attention.

As with ABC's "Lost" (which had an exceptional opener Wednesday), there is some concern that season two of "Housewives" can't possibly live up to its first season. Unlike "Lost," which gave up few details, the fear with "Housewives" is that too much was revealed, and it will be difficult to create a mystery as compelling as why Mary Alice committed suicide last season.

Many critics at the party were seeking answers to closely-guarded plot details. I was on a different mission. It took awhile, but I finally found the housewife I was looking for in the crowded, noisy restaurant that made party conversations difficult to hear.

I'm talking about Doug Savant, who plays Lynette Scavo's (Huffman's) husband, Tom. With Lynette back in the corporate world, Gabrielle (Longoria) forced to get a job because her husband is in jail, Bree (Cross) a widow after the death of husband Rex and Susan (Hatcher) unmarried, Tom is the only real housewife in this year's show.

It hasn't been lost on male viewers. Savant said he's been repeatedly greeted on the street by men saying, "good for you, send her to work."

With Lynette going crazy at home with the kids and sabotaging Tom's career, it is time for some role reversal. Savant, who has four kids in real life, understands the craziness of child rearing and is looking forward to the change in Tom's life.

"You sort of define yourself as the breadwinner," he said. "When that's taken away, it would be interesting to see what the role reversal is doing to his self-esteem."

And what would he like for Tom as Mr. Mom? "I would like to be better than Lynette, but I would also like to see him struggle with the insecurity of not making the money, and maybe she gets to make the decisions about how to spend the money. She's earned that."

Tom now has the time to bond with the other housewives on Wisteria Lane.

"If I do become friends with other housewives on the street, what does that do with Lynette's insecurities?" asks Savant. "How does that make her feel? There's a great (opportunity) for comedy there."

Huffman, who last Sunday won an Emmy for best actress in a comedy, is glad her character is back in advertising. "How many places can you go with (Lynette) going insane with children. As with motherhood, the desperation, the confusion and the feeling of failure also gets mundane and boring," said Huffman. "So I think we need a new menu. I think it is great that Lynette gets to try and find herself in a big bad, world."

She'll be working for a new tough boss, played by Joely Fisher. Alfre Woodard, who made a brief appearance in last May's finale as a new, mysterious neighbor, also has joined the cast.

Hatcher is excited that her character and Woodard's character interact, but she added she avoids learning what Susan will be up to until she gets the scripts. And that includes how last year's cliffhanger, in which Susan was held hostage by Bree's gun-touting, deranged, adopted son, Zach (Cody Kasch), is resolved. "Other than, am I shot and off the show," said Hatcher. "We can assume that isn't going to happen."

It is unclear what will happen to pregnant Gabrielle with her hubby in prison. Longoria's boyfriend, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker, does want everyone to know she isn't like Gabrielle in real life. "She is sweet, she has a great heart," said Parker. "On the show, she's a very, very bad girl. She does a good job."

Longoria wants Gabrielle to change. "I'm looking forward for her growing and being a little more selfless," said Longoria. "Her husband is in jail, and she has to deal with it. I think it is going to be really funny."

Of course, "Desperate Housewives" finds humor in unexpected places. Sunday's season premiere deals with Rex's funeral. "His mother (Shirley Knight) comes to town," explained Longoria. "That's going to be fun."

With a funeral, jail and a potential shooting in the cards, it's party time.

* * *

Here's a mini-review of the premiere of NBC's (9 tonight, Channel 2), "Three Wishes":

I dare you to try and watch this syrupy, feel-good exercise without shedding a tear. Amy Grant, who made her mark as a Christian singer, leads a team of experts into a small California town to grant three wishes as citizens cry their eyeballs out.

The wishes go to an athletic little girl who needs reconstructive brain and facial surgery; a young boy whose adoption by his stepfather is fast-tracked; and a high school football team, whose request for a new $1 million field is aided by a plea from the coach of the cheerleading squad who is battling leukemia. Granted, it is shamelessly manipulative. But it makes you appreciate what you have and understand the concept that it is better to give than receive.

e-mail: apergament@buffnews.com

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