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Director's answer to 'Xena,' 'Buffy'

Interview / James Cameron

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For a man whose name is synonymous with high-tech, high-testosterone movies, director James Cameron also has simultaneously explored a surprisingly empowered image of femininity over the years.

Who can forget the buff pecs of Linda Hamilton in "Terminator 2?" Or fearless Sigourney Weaver as she faced down the terrifying "Aliens," or Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as she ordered Ed Harris to drown her so they both might live in "The Abyss?"

This fall, Mr. Cameron elevates this interest from a side story to the main event as he makes his first foray into television with "Dark Angel," (premires Tuesday, Oct. 3, 9-10 p.m., Fox) a new science-fiction dramatic series.

Cameron's heroine, Max (Jessica Alba), a genetically engineered superwoman, comes on the air in a season that already will be hopping with women warriors: "Witchblade" (premires on TNT Sunday, Aug. 27, 8-10 p.m.); "Queen of Swords" (airing on UPN this fall); and "Powerpuff Girls" (Cartoon Network), to name a few, not to mention the enduring "Xena: Warrior Princess" (in reruns on the USA Network), "La Femme Nikita" (USA), and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (WB).

But the director, whose name is known around the world for "Titanic," his movie saga about a doomed ocean liner, says he didn't hit on this subject matter simply to follow a trend.

"I just tend to write what I like, Cameron says, "so there's probably a very adolescent aspect of me that wants to see that, but I also think that it's something that ... women respond to."

Pointing to a film career that spans some 16 years, Cameron says society has experienced a sea change.

"You have a period of time when the power of women in society, not just in the United States, but worldwide, has been slowly growing, to the good of society. And I think that women respond to characters who appear strong, that appear capable."

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