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The Animated World of Teri Hatcher

Teri Hatcher talks up “Coraline,” Henry Selick’s 3-D, animated stop-motion adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novella.

A still from “Coraline”
Teri Hatcher, one of the premier desperados on ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” arrives in the 35th floor lounge of the Mandarin Oriental done up in a bountiful blowout, her legs bare beneath a black micro mini despite the snowy New York night. Even with daughter Emerson in tow, Hatcher looks not a bit the mom-next-door — even by Wisteria Lane’s standards.

In fact, the only housewife Hatcher, 44, seems to be channeling in this sexy getup is the type that hails from Orange County, New York or Atlanta and resides on Bravo, which is interesting considering she’s in town to promote a children’s movie.

Hatcher, in her very adult ensemble, is on her way to “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” to plug her latest project: “Coraline,” Henry Selick’s 3-D, animated stop-motion adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novella, out Feb. 6 from Focus. It’s the story of a bored little girl (Dakota Fanning) who discovers an alternate, seemingly more alluring reality through a secret door in her family’s home. Hatcher, who was new to animation, voices three versions of a different kind of desperate housewife: Coraline’s exasperated mother, her too-good-to-be-true Other Mother and her evil alter ego, the Beldam.

“As a mom, [a kid-friendly film] is sort of a goal you want to check off your list,” said Hatcher, who has deemed most of her work “inappropriate” for her 11-year-old’s consumption.

Not that her turn as villain in “Coraline” has entirely endeared her to a younger audience. “We screened it with some of our friends, and at the end it was like, ‘No more sleepovers at Hatchers’ house.’ Now I’m definitely in the ranks of Cruella De Vil.” Though dark it may be, the film, infused with the same creepy elegance as 1993’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” also directed by Selick, is visually spectacular.

It’s also a reminder that, “Housewives” aside, Hatcher hasn’t been seen in much since the show’s first season in 2004. She insists it’s not for a lack of opportunities. “I make Mom my business, and I’m proud of that,” said Hatcher. “I only get six weeks off and rather than doing a movie, every year I’ve chosen to take my daughter to Italy or to Africa.”

Which is not to say she spends all her spare time idling on safari. Rather, the majority of her projects have been off-screen. Badgley Mischka chose her as the face of their fall 2007/2008 ad campaign, which, off the red carpet, is about as close as Hatcher gets to fashion. “It’s probably the thing I know least about,” she admits. “I was thinking I should’ve called Eva [Longoria Parker] and had her be like Cyrano de Bergerac, because I don’t know anything.”

Hatcher also helms her own production house, ISBE Productions, which currently has two television series in development. One is a drama called “Mercury Rising,” the other a sitcom based on her 2006 tell-all, “Burnt Toast: And Other Philosophies of Life,” which was a New York Times bestseller.

Indeed, Hatcher has been something of an open book with the public and press (see her weepy interview with Vanity Fair in 2006 as exhibit B) and it’s worked to her benefit. “The reason I’ve ever talked about anything openly — other than being an open, honest person — is that I feel like women have something to gain by understanding that we all struggle with the same issues and insecurities,” said Hatcher, who acts as her own publicist, a Hollywood anomaly if there ever was one.

Hatcher’s career has been full of surprises, not the least of which is the ongoing success of “Desperate Housewives,” which celebrated its 100th episode the night before this interview. Five seasons in, the show continues to be one of ABC’s top performers. But Hatcher is not taking anything for granted. “I’m thrilled to have a job,” she said. “Thrilled.”
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