December 23, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Jaime Pressly BREAKOUT TRAILER TREASURE

Jaime Pressly’s résumé is something of a black hole. Give it a serious once-over — really, scrutinize it closely — and…nope, nothing at all. There isn’t one thing — not her role as a nymphomaniac in a Jerry Springer movie, or her stint as the ”It’s already been broughten!” girl from Not Another Teen Movie, and certainly not the countless lad-mag spreads that have showcased her ample bosom — that approaches the hilarity of her shameless performance as Joy, the title character’s scheming harridan of an ex-wife on NBC’s My Name Is Earl.

Vainer actresses would never dream of reveling in Joy’s tacky lows (like that god-awful wedding getup), but for Pressly, 28, taking it to the hillbilly hilt came easily. She just needed to look in her own Kinston, N.C., backyard. ”This girl exists in real life,” she says. ”It’s people that I grew up with, but there’s also a lot of my grandmother Pressly. She was born and raised in my hometown and never left until the day she died. I throw a lot of her sauciness into this role.”

Other ingredients include Kmart clothes, a wig, and bad eyeliner. ”In this business, people don’t look at somebody like me and praise me. They call me a bombshell or a sexpot and they put me on the cover of Maxim. All I wanted was the opportunity to show what I could do.” With this ribald, Emmy-worthy portrayal, Pressly is finally getting that chance. — Nicholas Fonseca

Ciara BREAKOUT 1, 2 STEPPER

With Beyoncé reporting for Destiny’s Child duty, the 20-year-old emerged as the latest booty-shaking heir to Janet Jackson’s urban-pop throne. Her debut, Goodies, sold 3 million copies on the strength of three irresistible hits, including the full-of-sass title track and the Missy Elliott-aided throwdown ”1, 2 Step.” Mmm, mmm, goodielicious! — Raymond Fiore

J.R. Moehringer BREAKOUT BARFLY ON THE WALL

Moehringer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and first-time author, made critics and readers alike punch-drunk with love over his alcohol-infused memoir of the role models who frequented his Long Island town’s rollicking pub. From there to Yale, The New York Times, and beyond, Moehringer tells funny, touching stories — the types of tales usually slurred in a drunken revelry and then lost forever. — Gilbert Cruz

Wentworth Miller BREAKOUT BREAKOUT

There is one thing that Prison Break‘s fans and detractors agree upon: ”The show is completely preposterous,” laughs Wentworth Miller, star of the Fox drama. ”But that aside, it’s a great ride.” We’re thrilled to hear that the 33-year-old Miller has some perspective about his debut series, since it basically rests on his heavily (fake) tattooed shoulders. As Michael Scofield — a steely-eyed engineer who gets himself thrown into prison in order to break out his brother — Miller’s job, as he puts it, is to ”anchor the implausible.” ? Some of you may recognize Miller from the last time he was supposed to break out, in the 2003 flop The Human Stain; his performance as the young Anthony Hopkins was just about the only well-reviewed thing in the film. ”It opened a few doors for me,” he says, ”but suddenly I was competing [for roles] with guys who had been on magazine covers.” So Miller turned to TV, inspired in part by Sam Waterston’s ”godlike” performance on Law & Order, and picked up the Prison Break script. ”There’s great work being done on every level of the [TV] business,” he says. ”I sank six months into a feature film, which came and went. It’s gratifying to be part of a project that people are investing in over the long haul.” — Whitney Patorek

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