Right on DiMarco

Special to the Sun March 13, 2007

It is a jungle out there. Just ask Melissa DiMarco.

Behind her fun and flirty persona, Melissa DiMarco who knows both sides of the velvet ropes is a shrewd businesswoman.

The attractive Canadian actor, seen as principal Ms. H Hatzilakos on Degrassi: The Next Generation, returns tomorrow in new episodes of her pet project, Out There With Melissa DiMarco.

The reality from the red carpet series has a strong cult following among male viewers (and Sun readers, judging by the e-mails) thanks, no doubt, to DiMarcos spectacular curves.

In Out There, shes basically playing herself, an always-on-the-go entertainment reporter occasionally glimpsed changing in the back seat of cars while rushing between festival openings and other cool assignments.

While the voyeuristic adventures of this girl in the city might be a turn-on for some, there is also a you go, girl element to watching DiMarco in action. Out ?ere really does put it all out there, showing the hassles of maintaining hair, make-up and composure in the heat of the nasty turf wars that take place on the red carpet.

In a way it is a respite from the orgy of star fawning that goes on every night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on all those other star-driven network infomercials masquerading as entertainment magazine shows.

CELEB SCENE

Its not that DiMarco isnt just as into the celeb scene as the next star hustler. Its just that, as someone who has worked both sides of the velvet rope (she has appeared in movies and TV shows with everyone from Red Greens Steve Smith to Dean Cain to Tom Sizemore), DiMarco brings an insider perspective to the whole promotional whirl.

Sometimes the stars recognize her before she recognizes them. I saw you on TV last night! Christina Ricci blurted when DiMarco went in for the red carpet quote. The stars also appreciate that DiMarco comes ready to play.

This season, Scrubs Zack Braff politely points out the lettuce stuck in her teeth.

Others, such as Billy Connolly, Colin Farrell, Paul Reiser and Matthew McConaughey, seize the chance to be themselves in Out Theres cozy comfort zone.

They get to have fun, and they get that there is no pretense going in, she says.

DiMarco is refreshingly pretension-free herself.

When her changing-in-the-back-of-the-car moment is raised, she insists she does that all the time. She refers to the pumps she sometimes wears as her ghetto stilettos.

Behind that fun and flirty persona is a shrewd businesswoman.

DiMarco, a self-confessed workaholic, spends 16-hour days producing, budgeting, booking and setting up shoots for her show.

She works her actual parents, grandmother and friends in whenever possible, just so she can see them more often. No wonder she changes on the go. Sleep is overrated, she says. This season, she has even got former NHL star Doug Gilmour to guest as her life coach. Hes hilarious, she says. He uses hockey drills to help me with lifes problems.

Now thats out there.

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