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TEACHING MRS. TINGLE

Friends And Foes
Swept up in Leigh Ann Watson's struggle to get to the head of the class are two of her schoolmates: the alluringly rebellious Luke and her would-be actress best friend Jo Lynn

Swept up in Leigh Ann Watson's struggle to get to the head of the class are two of her schoolmates: the alluringly rebellious Luke and her would-be actress best friend Jo Lynn.

What Luke lacks in academic prowess he makes up for in sheer cool, a devilishly seductive quality that brings out the naughty side of Leigh Ann. In fact, as he helps her go after her goals, Luke bypasses Leigh Ann Watson's rational head and goes straight for heart. Playing Luke is Barry Watson, star of the television hit "Seventh Heaven," on which he portrays Luke's polar opposite: a preacher's son incapable of doing anything wrong. "In MRS. TINGLE, we get to see another side of Barry," states Kevin Williamson. "He's a perfect blend of naivete and sexiness, and at the same time there's an emotional depth that Barry really hasn't had a chance to explore before on camera."

"I only had a chance to do one movie this season and this was the one I wanted," notes Watson. "I was excited about playing Luke because I'm used to playing someone who's the nicest guy on television and it was great to switch gears and play the cool bad-ass."

As for Jo Lynn, the extrovert whose friendship with Leigh Ann - and lust for Luke -- is sorely tested by their ordeal with Mrs. Tingle, the filmmakers went for a total unknown. They chose vivacious newcomer Marisa Coughlan based on one very impressive audition. "She walked in and Cathy and I just flipped," recalls Williamson. "At first we were quite worried about going with an unknown. We were scared that it was going to be our biggest fight, but when we showed Marisa to executive producer Bob Weinstein, he felt as strongly as we did and she was cast in the role." Following TEACHING MRS. TINGLE, Coughlan went on to take a leading role in Kevin Williamson's new, highly anticipated series for ABC, "Wasteland."

Coughlan, like her fellow cast members, found the script an irresistible lure. "It's such a great story, with a wonderful balance of humor, thrills and an underlying psychological brain tweakage. It's not just about the suspenseful games these people play but about how they change from them."

Coughlan says of her character: "Jo Lynn is the bad influence on Katie, the one always trying to coerce her into doing naughty things. She's a real flirt and very theatrical. Every scene of hers is over-the-top so it was a very, very fun thing to do."

Reaction was similar from the rest of the cast, which includes such veteran performers as Jeffrey Tambor, Lesley Ann Warren, Vivica A. Fox, Michael McKean and Molly Ringwald. Once one of the 80s biggest teen stars herself, Ringwald now plays Miss Banks, the kind of authority her past characters might have rebelled against.

"I loved that TEACHING MRS. TINGLE combined comedy with fun and suspense," Ringwald says. "It really gets to the core of relationships between teachers and students at that age, which are often complex. There's always a Mrs. Tingle in everybody's life. People can almost always name them. I had two: an English teacher who was just mean, mean, mean and an Algebra teacher."

But now of course, Ringwald is one of the teachers, albeit one who is in Ringwald's words "just waiting to bust loose." She comments: "It was actually a lot of fun playing a teacher instead of a student. I mean I definitely do

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