Music remains her mainstay, but LeAnn Rimes says the occasional acting role is nice, too.
The country singer has left the other profession largely to husband Eddie Cibrian, recently of NBC's "The Playboy Club," but she's headlining a new TV movie for an appropriate outlet. Premiering Sunday, Nov. 13, the Country Music Television offering "Reel Love" casts her as an attorney who leaves her big-city life to return to her rural hometown and tend to her father (Burt Reynolds) upon learning he's had a heart attack.
He doesn't need much tending, though: She arrives to find him already back on his feet and fishing for a giant bass that will help him land a world record, thus accounting for the "Reel" part of the film's title. She readjusts so comfortably to the Southern surroundings, with the added attraction of a handsome newcomer (Shawn Roberts, "X-Men"), she gives consideration to staying longer. Perhaps permanently.
But there's still her guy back in the city (Jeff Roop, "Heartland"), whose sleek and sporty car she's taken -- and, unbeknownst to him, wrecked -- on her trek home. His relatively casual take on their relationship makes her wonder if the two of them are more than what she terms "lawyers with benefits," another factor in her ultimate decision.
"I'm really proud of my work in it," Rimes says of the "Sweet Home Alabama"-like movie. "I'm learning constantly, with every film I do. With an album or a film, if you can sit there and not cringe while watching or listening, and you can see the growth ... that's kind of where I am in my life, just taking a step farther and being better and better every time."
Rimes adds acting is "a whole other creative process than music, and something I really have to be in the moment with. You have to be honest, and that's something I see in myself in this film."
Working with screen veteran Reynolds helped that effort, Rimes says. "We had a great time together. He plays a bit of a pain in the butt, and this was the first time I'd ever met him and hung with him. I just adore him. He's hysterical, he really is. It felt like we'd known each other for a long time. He's been around and through everything, and I have great respect for him."
A former host of the competition "Nashville Star," Rimes has been taking some gambles with her music, too. Her latest album, "Lady & Gentlemen," is comprised of her cover versions of songs originally made famous by male country artists -- from Waylon Jennings' "Good Hearted Woman" to Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make It Through the Night." Vince Gill, whose "When I Call Your Name" also is represented, was one of Rimes' co-producers on the release.
"I really had a great time rediscovering my childhood in a way," Rimes says of making the album, "and it was nice to have Vince's perspective on the stuff he grew up on. Both of us have a vast knowledge of music in general, and we have great respect for classic country music. We pay homage to the originals, but we definitely tweaked each and every song to make it more modern and more my own."
Unveiled in late September, "Lady & Gentlemen" still is fairly new to the marketplace, so Rimes is glad "Reel Love" is appearing on a network with natural appeal to a country fan base.
"It targets that audience," she says, "and it does it so well. And I got a great chance to work with a classic Hollywood actor."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun