Vanessa Marcil, Las Vegas
While all those media-maven types theorize about the true meaning of Las Vegas' upcoming time-slot change — NBC's Monday-night mainstay is moving to Fridays at 9, starting March 3 — Vanessa Marcil won't be bothered. As the Montecito's hostess with the oh-so-mostess, she is relishing her dream job, a role she values a distant second behind that of mother to son Kassius, who turns 4 in March. In this candid Q&A with TVGuide.com, the brunette beauty cheers "Viva Las Vegas" — and reveals at least two celebrity crushes.

TVGuide.com: When I called you to set this up, it sounded a bit festive in the background. Were you at a strip club with your Vegas pals, or were you at Chuck E. Cheese's with your son?
Vanessa Marcil:
I was at a strip club with my son.

TVGuide.com: No you weren't. Careful now, Child Services will abandon their stakeout at Britney's house and start sniffing around you.
Marcil:
[Laughs] I was actually at Fred Segal — which is not unlike a strip club — returning some pants, and it was craziness.

TVGuide.com: After our call got dropped, you text-messaged me to confirm our interview. Needless to say, I will never wash my cell-phone screen again.
Marcil:
I was actually with my boyfriend, Ben [Younger, the director of 2005's Prime]. He's like a 5-year-old — every time I get on the phone, he tries to distract me, and he made me drop the phone.

TVGuide.com: The last time I Q&A'd you, one entire side of your house was missing....
Marcil:
That side of the house is now intact. [The renovation] is coming along, but it's a process. As they say, redoing your house is one of the top-five most traumatic things you can go through. It's horrible! I'm actually looking for a new place to buy in New York, and I'll move into that place over the summer while they finish it.

TVGuide.com: So what are we to make of Las Vegas' time-slot change? Should I blame Donald Trump [whose Apprentice is moving to Monday nights]?
Marcil:
I'm the worst with stuff like that. I just know that we all love making the show and we have a cool audience who, wherever we go, will follow us. It's so funny now because with TiVo, I don't even know what night shows are on!

TVGuide.com: So true. What else is on Vanessa's TiVo?
Marcil:
Curb Your Enthusiasm... Extras... The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, of course.... I've tried The Colbert Report a little bit, but it's hit-or-miss for me. It's not The Daily Show.

TVGuide.com: Are you looking forward to Jon Stewart hosting the Oscars?
Marcil:
I am! Jon Stewart is like a god to me. He's hilarious.

TVGuide.com: When Vegas first premiered, it had all this Ocean's Eleven buzz rubbing off in it, but it never really sparked into a super-megahit. Has NBC been reassuring you guys about that?
Marcil:
Again, I'm the worst with stuff like that. I'm so much the girl who still gets excited about showing up for work and still sits in disbelief that I get paid to do what I get paid to do. I just focus on the work and live in this whole pretend world at home where we don't read gossip magazines or pay attention to the ratings.... I'm more focused on my scenes for the day and hoping that Jimmy Caan has a good Marlon Brando story to share. I'm just ecstatic that I'm still not working at the Red Onion!

TVGuide.com: Las Vegas has given Sam husbands, ex-husbands, a brother, flings both meaningless and meaningful with all manner of men.... What has been your favorite stuff to do?
Marcil:
My favorite thing to do is work with Jimmy. Not only has he had, obviously, an amazing career, but it's just amazing to listen to him talk about what he's done and the people he's worked with. I also feel like I become better when I'm working with him, and that's always a nice feeling, to feel like you're learning something. I mean, I'm in love with him, I have a mad crush on him. He is unbelievable — there are hardly any men past 50 who don't have a gut, and the man has no gut. He's got like abs of steel!

TVGuide.com: I have an interview coming up with him in a few weeks. Should I be afraid and/or intimidated?
Marcil:
You shouldn't be afraid, but you should block out the whole day! The man can talk! But all his stories are interesting, and he's hilarious. He's definitely the reason I think our show's even on the air. Plus, every time I've had a new boyfriend, he gets on the phone and scares the crap out of him. He'll start asking them questions and then tell them he'll break their f-----' legs if they fool around with me.

TVGuide.com: What's impressive about Vegas is that it has not overdone the guest-star thing like some "other" NBC shows, which it could have easily done.
Marcil:
I actually get excited about our guest stars, because we always have these obscure, hilarious and crazy character actors. My favorite thing in life is funny people.

TVGuide.com: Are there one or two you have been most excited to work with?
Marcil:
Oh, my god, there's just so many.... Dave Foley was hi-larious! But my favorite was Jane Lynch, the woman from Best in Show and The 40 Year Old Virgin. When she was on our show, I could not keep a straight face. I literally had to have someone come in and do [her scenes with me] once, because I couldn't hold it together.

TVGuide.com: As the remainder of this season plays out, will there be any bones tossed to the Sam and Danny fans?
Marcil:
You know, I don't know. I'll tell you what the problem is: As far as all the people on the show, Sam's got the least amount of morals and values and all that....

TVGuide.com: God bless her.
Marcil:
Exactly. But she isn't a villainous cartoon character. She's a real girl. She's loyal. She isn't some money-hungry character who has no boundaries. And if they're going to portray her and Mary as friends, Sam isn't that scumbag kind of a girl who would go behind Mary's back and screw around with Danny. So that's the main reason why [Sam-Danny] can never happen. Unless they marry off Mary.

TVGuide.com: Or she flies off a roof or something.
Marcil:
Exactly! If Mary flies off a roof, maybe Sam will be with Danny.

TVGuide.com: This is the third season that's wrapping up. Is this where it gets expensive for NBC to pick up Vegas for another year? Are everyone's contracts up?
Marcil:
Yeah. As far as I hear, usually at this point they want to at least get it to go into syndication. [Vegas will have produced 69 episodes; syndication typically requires 100.] I have a feeling we'll be around.

TVGuide.com: As much as you love Las Vegas, are you getting the itch to do other things?
Marcil:
Well, I always have the itch to do other things, but I've got to tell you, nothing beats having a normal place where you belong. There's a kind of security with that. They're pretty great with my schedule now, so I'm hoping to be able to stay here and do other things. We're finally figuring out how to shoot the show so that there can actually be days off. The last two years, we were off for five weeks and were kind of shooting year-round. This year we finally had a real summer hiatus — three and a half months — so I was in South Africa shooting a documentary. That made me feel like it is possible to have some kind of life outside of the show.

TVGuide.com: The documentary, you told me, is called Dinner, and it's about what women and children are going through in places such as Ethiopia. Where do you stand with it?
Marcil:
We're putting it together now. We shot so many hours of footage and I honestly have no idea what I'm doing, but I want to do it all myself to learn. My main goal with it is to be able to show it to Kassius, so he can see how people are living in the rest of the world. When I was growing up, I had no idea how lucky I was to be born here. Especially as a woman, it's even more important to look at these things. Just to be a woman and to be born here, you're already one of the luckiest girls in the world, no matter what you do with your life.

TVGuide.com: OK, I now have a tough segue as I wasn't planning to talk about Africa yet, and the rest of my questions are, well, superficial. Witty, but superficial.
Marcil:
[Laughs]

TVGuide.com: From what you've seen — and yes, I will ask your Vegas costar this the next time I talk to him — does it appear that Josh Duhamel loves his girlfriend Fergie's "lady lumps"? Perhaps even gets "drunk off her trunk"?
Marcil:
[Hearty laughter] Um, well, first of all, I'll tell you this: I know exactly how Josh feels about, ahem, not only her lumps but how he feels about all the other girls in his life. I'm sworn to secrecy, though, so I can't tell you any of it. [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: Can you explain the mystery of your missing back tattoo on the cover of last June's Maxim? Did they retouch it away? Were you upset?
Marcil:
Oh no, it's in the process of being removed.

TVGuide.com: You're actually having it removed?
Marcil:
Yeah, I didn't want to look at it anymore. It's now half there and half off. They just touched up the part you can still see.

TVGuide.com: Was it a difficult decision to get rid of it?
Marcil:
No. [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: What, it was part of "young Vanessa"?
Marcil:
Yeah, exactly.

TVGuide.com: Since becoming a mom, have you changed any of your internal rules about parlaying your sexuality in Maxim-type pictorials?
Marcil:
No, I think I'm pretty much the same. I've actually turned down Playboy a million times, and I'll continue to turn them down. I'll tell you, I've actually become more comfortable with my sexuality since Kassius [was born]. Before Kassius, I had never even posed for anything scantily clad. I actually felt more comfortable doing it after because I had gained weight and was curvier than I've ever been.

TVGuide.com: "I am maternal woman, hear me roar"?
Marcil:
Yeah. I just felt like there was more of a reason to take some clothes off. "Yeah, I'm a woman and I had a baby. I don't work out all the time. I don't starve myself. I'm curvy and here I am."

TVGuide.com: You realize that every other woman in America who has had a baby looks at those pictures and, well, hates you.
Marcil:
Yeah, except that all those women need to remember that everything is airbrushed. Though I do look damn good naked, I'm not going to lie!

TVGuide.com: On a final and fun note: In prepping for this interview, I discovered that there's a group of female online fans who proudly profess themselves to be "Vanesbians," meaning they would "switch teams" to be with you....
Marcil:
[Laughs] That's hilarious!

TVGuide.com: You never heard that?
Marcil:
No, but did you know I'm the president of a similar club for Angelina Jolie?