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From Penn to 'Weird Loners'

With a new sitcom premiering, actress Becki Newton celebrates a kind of homecoming with steak at Rouge.

* WEIRD LONERS. 9:30 tonight, Fox 29.

* YOUNGER. 10 tonight, TV Land.

* THE DOVEKEEPERS. 9 tonight and tomorrow, CBS3.

BECKI NEWTON had the kind of Philly experience the other night she never imagined when she was studying European history at Penn.

But, then, the actress, who stopped by the Daily News Friday to talk about her new Fox sitcom, "Weird Loners," barely remembers Center City then.

"When I was here - it's been almost 12, 13 years - I was a student. With no money," she said, describing "a big night out" as a trip to the 7-Eleven, where she "got two hot dogs instead of one."

Flash-forward to last Thursday.

"I went to Rittenhouse Square, took a nice little walk . . . and I bought myself a steak at Rouge, and toasted the fact that in the last few years, my life has taken such an interesting and wonderful turn," Newton said.

As for the steak, it "was the best steak I ever had. Steak and fries. By myself. Right in the front of the restaurant. Loved it."

Though she's easily recognized from shows like "Ugly Betty" and "How I Met Your Mother," she ate in peace. "I think they saw how hungry I looked and didn't want to bother me. Because I was really excited about my steak. I also got the bread pudding, which I highly recommend."

She also, naturally, recommends "Weird Loners," a show from the creator of "King of Queens" in which she plays the slightly desperate Caryn Goldfarb, a thirtysomething single in Queens who becomes part of a quartet of misfit neighbors. She's co-starring with Zachary Knighton ("Happy Endings"), Nate Torrence ("Hello Ladies") and Meera Rohit Kumbhani.

Like NBC's "Undateable" (9 tonight), the show's title exaggerates its characters' foibles, but only a little. (Its first episode ends in a scene that's one of the funniest things I've seen in a pilot in a while.)

"It's going away from the romantic comedy and aspirational characters and sort of happy-ever-after and sparkly lives," she said.

Though she claims kinship with Caryn - "I do have a great amount of optimism in the face of logic" - Newton's own life has at least one rom-com element.

She met her husband, Chris Diamantopoulos ("Episodes," "The Starter Wife"), in the subway below Times Square.

"We both walked and we both looked, and that was it," she said. That weekend, she told her grandmother, "I think this is the guy." Married nearly 10 years, they have two children.

Caryn, she said, "probably says that every day and gets it pretty wrong. I lucked out."

TV Land's 'Younger'

I'm old enough to have seen TV Land shift directions more than once, but, until now, I've never felt quite old enough to watch it regularly, even if, by Nielsen standards, I'm basically dead.

Darren Star, too, is out of TV's target 18 to 49 demo, but the "Sex and the City" creator isn't quite ready to make the next "Hot in Cleveland."

Instead, he's skewering attitudes like mine with "Younger," a TV Land comedy premiering tonight that stars Sutton Foster ("Bunheads") as Liza, a newly single 40-year-old who decides that passing for 26 is the only way she can get back into her old field, publishing, after years away.

So, she moves into the Brooklyn apartment of an old friend (Debi Mazar) and acquires a new, hat-heavy wardrobe.

At work, she finds a mentor in a junior editor (Hilary Duff) who's close to the age Liza's only pretending to be, and whose life, Liza realizes, isn't quite as perfect as it looks.

Foster, a Broadway actress and physical marvel who hit 40 herself only a couple of weeks ago, is probably not representative of most of the fortysomething audience TV Land's targeting, but we don't come to TV - or Darren Star - for reality.

She's charming and so is this show, whose entire first season I scooped up in a few sittings.

'Dovekeepers' has Cote

CBS' "NCIS" may no longer have Cote de Pablo - to the distress of a vocal portion of its fanbase - but the actress does have the powerhouse procedural as the lead-in tonight to her appearance in the two-part miniseries "The Dovekeepers."

The latest epic from producers Mark Burnett ("Survivor") and his wife, Roma Downey ("Touched by an Angel"), "The Dovekeepers" is based on Alice Hoffman's novel about a small group of women who come, by different paths, to Masada, the desert fortress that, nearly two millennia ago, 900 Jews are said to have held for months against a Roman army.

De Pablo plays a survivor of the siege whose story she and another survivor are recounting to the historian Josephus (Sam Neill). He says he'd like them to get to the point, but he turns out to have far more patience than I did with their stories, which come complete with stilted dialogue and focus more on their complicated, intertwined personal lives than on the legendary siege and its bloody aftermath.

Phone: 215-854-5950

On Twitter: @elgray