By Gregory Kirschling
December 20, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

FILM (AND TV AND BOOKS AND…) Who’s the hardest-working man in show business? Guess! ”I produced and directed two pilots for IFC,” he says. One’s a ”really funny, edgy half hour about two women in L.A. who are trying to break into screenwriting.” The other’s ”an animated series called Hopeless in Zagreb, about the misadventures of a bunch of Hollywood executives who are in production of an out-of-control movie in Yugoslavia.” He has also — this is our favorite — created a pilot for AMC ”where celebrities, including Lorraine Bracco and Eric Stoltz, come to play charades with movie-based themes. It’s very lively. I’m also finalizing The Exonerated, a movie for Court TV that I produced and directed, starring Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover, Delroy Lindo, Brian Dennehy, and Aidan Quinn. It will be on Jan. 27.” And there’s more. ”In Capote” — an upcoming biopic about writer Truman — ”I play William Shawn, the [late] editor of The New Yorker. And in Trust the Man” — the Julianne Moore movie directed by her husband, Bart Freundlich — ”I play Billy Crudup’s psychiatrist.” We would discuss his series of children’s books, but — no space! So who is he? He’s Bob Balaban, the quiet, intense guy from Christopher Guest movies. ”I’m planting all the time, and hopefully they’ll sprout,” he says quietly (and intensely).

TELEVISION Rock queen Alanis Morissette is calling from Dharmsala in northern India, ”where the Tibetans live in exile amongst the Indian people — it’s incredible.” Now, before you get going with your knee-jerk assumptions, know that she’s just agreed to star in We’re With the Band, an improv-ed Comedy Central show that will, she promises, ”creatively dispel any preconceived notions about me as a human being or artist, and the music industry also.” It’s a Curb Your Enthusiasm-type affair; she’ll play herself, actors will play her backstage crew, and the humor will be based on her nutty personal experiences touring. ”A lot of people presume that I’m meditating five hours a day and that I’m a vegan and I’m one-dimensionally spiritually minded and I’ve transcended my humanity, and while that’s a great aspiration” — she laughs — ”it’s not altogether true.” Shooting will likely start in February.