'The 4400' Counts on Tippi Hedren
The Hitchcock blonde, animal activist and mother of Melanie Griffith still finds time to actLOS ANGELES --
"I'm not real good at listening to advice," Hedren says. "I think retirement is a four-letter word. If I didn't have to get up every morning and think, 'How am I going to raise that million dollars to support these animals in the way they have become accustomed?', I think I would be an old woman."
When she's not jetting off to Africa or tending to the lions, tigers, cougars and other wild cats large and small at her Shambala Preserve in Acton, Calif. -- which is open to the public one weekend a month -- Hedren is still maintaining a busy acting career.
She can be seen this fall on the new MyNetwork TV in the telenovela "Fashion House," starring Bo Derek.
"I'm playing a mother, a grandmother," she says.
Hedren also recently finished work on a movie called "Rodeo Girl," due out next year.
"I play another older woman," she says. "She's nuttier than a fruitcake."
Before all this, fans can see Hedren in the two-hour season premiere of "The 4400," airing Sunday, July 11, on USA Network. The show's third season continues its saga of 4,400 people who were plucked out of history at different stages over several decades, then returned at one time without having aged or having any memory of where they had been. They also have special powers, which are part of a plan by people from the future to save mankind.
Jacqueline MacKenzie and Joel Gretsch return as government agents with personal and professional ties to the 4400. Megalyn Echikunwoke joins the cast as the suddenly grown-up Isabelle, the powerful daughter of 4400s Richard (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali) and Lily (Laura Allen).
Billy Campbell, who plays 4400 leader Jordan Collier, returns later in the season; and Peter Coyote reprises his role as government official Dennis Ryland in the season opener.
Hedren's role is being kept under wraps, but she does do several scenes with Ali.
"I love that man," she says. "I was so impressed with his acting ability. He's a really amazing actor. He doesn't overdo it. He's so sensitive. The changes on his face are just amazing. He was a delight to work with."
Hedren recalls how a meeting with executive producer Ira Steven Behr resulted in her taking the part.
"Usually those meetings are really awful," she says. "You have to go into this meeting with all these people staring at you. He made me feel so comfortable and so wonderful, because I hate reading a cold script. It really is grisly. When I went in, they said I didn't have to read. Then he literally conned me into doing it. Yes, he did."
Hedren hadn't seen the series, so the producer sent her a selection of episodes on DVD before she flew up to the sets in Vancouver, British Columbia.
"One night," she says, "I thought, 'I'll look at a couple of shows tonight.' I was up till five in the morning. I went through all of them. It was so great. I loved the whole premise. It's exciting; it's scary; it's insightful; it's thought-provoking. I think it's just brilliant."
Asked if she'll become a steady "4400" watcher now, Hedren says, "Oh, you bet I will. It'll be just like '24' for me."
In fact, if the "24" producers are interested, Hedren would love to guest-star, perhaps even as the mother of terrorist-fighter Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland).
"Perfect," she says, "just as long as they don't kill me off."