tv reporter

Not a good idea to let this guy cut the cake

John Waters realizes that his newest role — presiding as the Groom Reaper over Court TV's first original scripted series, " 'Til Death Do Us Part" — might make for some uncomfortable family situations.

The show, which marks Waters' first starring role on a TV series, finds the director of such twisted, offbeat films as "Pink Flamingos" and "A Dirty Shame" as well as the more mainstream "Hairspray" guiding viewers through dramatizations of true stories of doomed marriages that end with one spouse murdering the other. Waters admits his alter ego as the Groom Reaper might make it a bit awkward when attending the weddings of family or friends — like his niece/goddaughter's upcoming nuptials.

"I'm going to try not to lurk in the back row but sit up front and be cheery and wear light-colored clothing," he jokes. "It's terrible for her that this show is coming out (just before her big day)."

Waters says he's not a big fan of weddings — "I am single and therefore avoid being murdered," he says — but was intrigued by the series' unique take on marriage the moment he was approached by its creator, horror director Jeff Lieberman.

"I instantly went for it because it seemed right up my alley. … It's about real murders, but I'm adding my own humor to a subject that's anything but funny," he says.

Indeed, when watching the show, which debuts with back-to-back episodes at 10 p.m. tonight, it's hard not to liken Waters' role to a wittier, more jovial version of Rod Serling's persona on the classic "The Twilight Zone." Waters, who is modest about the comparison but admits he's flattered by it, points out that he was a big fan of such legends as Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and director William Castle when he was growing up.

"William Castle inspired me to basically make fun of my personality as a director and use that (to my advantage). But I think the mustache (ultimately) gets me the part," he jokes of his trademark facial hair.

Waters has had acting roles before, guest-starring on such shows as "My Name Is Earl" and appearing in films like "Seed of Chucky" as well as some of his own, but he's hoping his fans will see a new side of him in " 'Til Death" while he reaches a new audience as well. Waters, who admits that he enjoyed the break from being behind the camera, figures there will be some takeaway for viewers, too: Maybe, just maybe, there's someone out there thinking about killing his or her spouse who will think twice about it after watching an episode.

He also has some advice for would-be newlyweds.

"Nobody thinks on their wedding day that they are going to murder each other," he says. "But right before you get married, you should look at the person, and if there's one little thing that gets on your nerves, think about how bad it will be in 10 years."

Having taught in prison for several years, Waters wasn't surprised at how many stories of spousal slayings are out there. But he says he did learn a thing or two about how tough it is to get away with murder.

"I learned that it's really hard to get rid of a body," he laughs. "They smell, and in America they are fat and heavy. It's also hard to get rid of DNA — DNA ruins everything."