TV actresses such as Jennifer Aniston and Julianna Margulies are using their down time to star in movies

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Television actresses are working. Last spring, during her hiatus from Party of Five, Neve Campbell shot a minor movie called Scream, which turned into a major hit. And during her hiatus from NewsRadio, Maura Tierney did time as Jim Carrey’s wife in Liar Liar. As for their male TV counterparts, we have six words: Matthew Perry in Fools Rush In. (And though George Clooney promises to look nice in the Batsuit, last year’s One Fine Day lasted about that long in theaters.) Guys, you have some catching up to do, and this summer, the women of prime time are at it again:

Neve Campbell (Party of Five), who begins the sequel to Scream this month, is already in Miami filming the offbeat conspiracy drama Wild Things, with Kevin Bacon and Matt Dillon. ”I want to be seen in different lights,” says Campbell, who plays a pot-smoking, tattooed rebel.

Tea Leoni (The Naked Truth) will play a TV news reporter in Deep Impact, about three characters’ lives when a comet is discovered to be on a deadly collision course with Earth (Elijah Wood and Robert Duvall costar). Coincidentally, the shooting schedule dovetails with that of The X-Files: The Movie, also in L.A. and starring new husband David Duchovny. ”They’d only just started to date when we first started talking about this movie,” says Leoni’s agent, Risa Shapiro. ”It was in the hands of the gods.”

Jennifer Aniston (Friends) will star as a straight woman in love with a gay man (Paul Rudd) in Wendy Wasserstein’s coadaptation of Stephen McCauley’s 1987 novel The Object of My Affection, which starts shooting in New York this month. ”She’ll surprise a lot of people,” promises producer Laurence Mark. ”The role is sufficiently different than on Friends. It’ll show a lot of comedy but also a lot of drama. And she’ll have a totally new hairstyle.” (Aniston’s friend Lisa Kudrow recently signed to star in the comedy The Opposite of Sex with Christina Ricci and Lyle Lovett before her show resumes this fall.)

Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) will join Duchovny on the movie version of their hit series and recently finished shooting The Mighty, a drama about the friendship of two adolescent boys (costar Sharon Stone executive-produced). Anderson got the part of a biker’s chick by sending in an audition tape. ”People might not even recognize her [in the film],” says producer Simon Fields. ”She has long red tousled hair and wears sleazy clothing.”

Julianna Margulies (ER) is spending her summer in Texas, living the ”dream of any woman,” according to her agent, Steve Dontanville. Which means she plays Matthew McConaughey’s love interest in Richard Linklater’s action flick The Newton Boys, about real-life bank-robber brothers in the 1920s. Unlike ER‘s Carol Hathaway, says Dontanville, ”her character is glammed up and gets the guy.”

Maura Tierney (NewsRadio) is now shooting Mike Nichols’ Primary Colors in L.A. with John Travolta and Billy Bob Thornton. Tierney’s role — a political consultant who has an interracial campaign-trail affair — is one she was born to play. ”My father was a city councilman in Boston,” she says. ”Campaigns are like show business, with all the gossip.”

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