Sunday, April 15, 2007

Cloud 9's breakout star inspires campus craze

Cloud 9, the hilarious sports comedy motion picture starring Burt Reynolds, is exhibiting all the qualities of a cult classic and campus craze-- thanks, in part, to the performance of its breakout star.

Not only are kids photoshopping the well-known Cloud 9 DVD cover to put themselves in place of Burt Reynolds as the king of beach volleyball strippers (above)-- but Cloud 9 viewing parties in rec rooms and dorms feature a new drinking game centered on Katheryn Winnick, who plays the world-weary Russian dancer named Olga.

"Every time her character speaks, we drink until she's finished," a campus source tells us. "Olga rocks!"

Maybe it's because she of the way she says "wodka." But whatever the reason, it's Katheryn whose star has been on the rise since Frozen Pictures' movie about a man's dream to turn a group of strippers into a beach volleyball powerhouse was released last year by 20th Century Fox. And she did it among an impressive, legendary cast that includes Reynolds, D.L. Hughley, Paul Rodriguez, Angie Everhart, Gabrielle Reece, Tom Arnold, Tony Danza, Gary Busey and a host of young talent.

First it was her performance as Ivana Trump in ABC's biopic, Trump Unauthorized, then well-received roles in films like Failure To Launch and TV dramas like CSI: NY and House.

And last month, after she was replaced in the pilot for a Fox comedy series called Nurses, Fox turned around and signed her to a new, six-figure talent deal-- for a new dramatic series.

"Olga was originally written as 'Inga,' the stereotypical Swedish bombshell," says Brett Hudson, who wrote and produced Cloud 9 with his Frozen Pictures partner Burt Kearns and Academy Award winner (The Godfather, Million Dollar Baby) Albert S. Ruddy. "It was a tribute to the dumb blondes of the Sixties. We were looking at Victoria Silvstedt to take the role when Katheryn showed up and played it Russian. The director convinced the rest of us to make the change."

"Katheryn's no dumb blonde. She's an actress," Kearns adds. "And I think it's a combination of our comedic writing and her intense delivery that resulted in comic gold. We knew when we were filming on the beach in Malibu that she had real star power.

"She reminded us of a young Sharon Stone."

When Hudson and Kearns wrote the script for their upcoming film, Psych House, they had Winnick in mind for a major role in the psychological horror.

"No announcements yet," Hudson cautioned. "But Katheryn's a horror fan. And we're fans of hers."

"And we don't encourage underage drinking," Kearns adds.

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