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Tonight, “Veronica Mars“–the show that features a crafty, high school girl P.I.–moves to its new UPN time slot, 9 p.m. What has me excited is the potential implied in the title of this episode: “I am God.”

I fully admit to becoming a Veronica Mars “convert” during this second season. I’m in good company, too, since famous fans like Joss Whedon and Stephen King have voiced lavish praise for the show and its writers. Each week, as the latest episode comes to a close, I am eager to see the previews of next week’s scenes–yet I’m always left with the feeling that something is missing from the series as a whole.

There’s no doubt that “Veronica Mars” has become the new show of choice for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans–which is no surprise, given the similarity of its star, Kristen Bell, to Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) both in terms of looks and ability to fire off punchy, sarcastic dialogue throughout each fast-paced episode. But the characters of “Buffy” had a clear sense of a higher calling in this world and potentially the next–not just Buffy herself as the “chosen one” whose destiny was to protect the world from demons and vampires, but also the show’s other vampire characters, who struggled with their longing to kill while at the same time desiring to do good. “Veronica Mars” and its characters, on the other hand, lack soul and an overall moral compass.

For “Buffy” fans, the show’s popularity was not just due to the literal vampires-with-souls set-up; it was the fact that the show itself aspired to explore a higher meaning of life and purpose in the world.

Week after week, “Veronica Mars,” without fail, delivers incredible, snappy dialogue from all its quirky characters, yet there still is an emptiness behind these words and conversations. Veronica is a person to whom friends and foes alike come for help, and who always offers that help, even if reluctantly so, in much the same way Buffy patroled for vamps night after night instead of going out dancing with her friends. Yet fans never see that same sense of a higher calling from Veronica, which Buffy had as core to her character. And while on “Buffy,” we saw tremendous character development in Xander, Willow, Spike, and even popular girl Cordelia, on “Veronica Mars” we see a steady stream of rich boys who only seem out for themselves, an ethic of selfish laziness and apathy that never seems to change. Funny, sarcastic dialogue and a cool high school setting can only take “Veronica Mars” so far, and for this fan, that sense of emptiness I’m left with each week is starting to become a let down.

So I’m hanging my hopes on tonight’s episode, “I am God,” which has Veronica seeing visions. I am hoping that the show’s writers might begin to add some much-needed deeper layers to Veronica’s character and the show as a whole.

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Simple life, indeed.

In possibly one of the most bizarre bids for publicity ever, MSNBC.com–via Access Hollywood via “People Magazine”–reports that Paris Hilton is on the short list to play Mother Teresa in a film set to begin production early next year. Indian director T. Rajeevnath was reportedly struck by the Hotel Heiress’s facial resemblance to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning founder of the Missionaries of Charity and impressed by Hilton’s refusal to do “Playboy.”

“Although there are several actresses willing to play the role of Mother Teresa, the most widely respected and loved person,” Rajeevnath told the Indo-Asian News Service, “the history of the actress who is finally chosen for the role would have to be analyzed thoroughly before she is chosen.”

Meaning, one wonders, will Rajeevnath have to analyze each frame of Hilton’s notorious sex tape, “One Night in Paris,” very thoroughly?

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Richard Herskowitz is a brave man. The director of the Virginia Film Festival has chosen a theme for this year’s 70-film hoedown: “Revelations: Finding God at the Movies.” In a news brief released by the University of Virginia, which runs the fest, Herskowitz says he’s looking for films that “explore the growing role of religion in the public sphere,” including “reverent and irreverent” flicks. (No doubt, he’ll also put together a powerful roster for forums as well: UVA has one of the most innovative and well-staffed religion departments in the country, and past festivals have featured luminaries like director Paul Schrader and politically controversial actress Vanessa Redgrave.)

That’s not what makes danger Herskowitz’s middle name, however: it’s his plan to air his selection process and invite discussion on a blog called “Revelations of a Programmer.” Does he realize how many religion-and film, uh, enthusiasts are out there, ready to stampede on a blog? Godspeed, Richard.

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I am sure some ABC exec thought it was a good idea to have Naveen Andrews, one of the stars of ABC’s hit show “Lost,” do the talk-show circuit to promote tonight’s premiere of the ABC miniseries “The Ten Commandments,” in which Andrews plays Menerith, brother to Moses. But Andrews’s comments on “Good Morning America” and “The View” will do little to persuade the religiously inclined to make the story of Moses Must See TV as part of observing this holy week.

As Andrews chatted it up with Barbara Walters and the rest of the ladies on “The View,” he said that he liked this cinematic version of the biblical story because it portrayed Moses as a “nut job” and as someone who in today’s society would probably be nothing more than “a traffic guard or something.” Later on in the interview, when Star Jones pointed out to Andrews that the Bible refers to God’s law as “The Ten Commandments,” not the “Ten Suggestions,” Andrews simply shrugged and said that “all religious dogma is suspect and should be questioned.”

While Andrews is certainly entitled to his opinions, spiritual skepticism and all, he might want to remember that promoting a project means showing just a little bit of respect for the beliefs of the audience for whom the project is primarily intended.

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