Still happy being a teen, Miranda Cosgrove to play Tampa Theatre on Feb. 16

S he's been a Hollywood player since she was a toddler. She's one of the highest-paid teen stars ever, making a reported $180,000 per episode of cable smash iCarly — her second major hit on Nickelodeon. At just 17, she's a spokeswoman for Neutrogena. And now she's embarking on a pop career, with a tour stop at the Tampa Theatre on Wednesday.

She's more popular than Miley Cyrus, more famous than Lindsay Lohan. So why isn't Miranda Cosgrove screwed up? Or, at the very least, why do the tabloids, so thirsty to catch young stars being naughty, leave her alone?

"I think it's a mix of luck and that I live a little outside of L.A.," says Cosgrove, calling from a tour stop in New Jersey. "I have a core group of friends, and my two best friends I've known since kindergarten. I definitely go out. But my favorite thing to do is to stay home and throw sleepovers."

Cosgrove — who talks at a funny, rapid clip, her slightly squeaky voice on the innocent side of teendom — spirals off into a discussion of her favorite topic:

"I love to eat. I'm a big foodie. There's cupcakes, candy all over my tour bus. I love going out to restaurants. My favorite is Mozza in L.A.; the squash blossom pizza is the best pizza you'll ever eat!"

You can be as cynical as you want — and, in this TMZ age, who could blame you? — but Cosgrove is different. Or maybe she's just a good actress. Either way, she made for a fun — and refreshing — interview.

You've now had two shows on Nick that appealed to kids and their parents: Drake & Josh and iCarly? Is there a shared secret ingredient?

The chemistry between the actors on both shows has something to do with that. Plus Dan Schneider (a former teen actor, he played Ricky in 1985's Better Off Dead) created Drake & Josh and iCarly. He doesn't sit down to write a "kids show." He says he makes shows that could play any time at night, for anyone.

Do you have creative input on iCarly? Maybe if something feels phony, dorky?

The writers on the show are really good and in tune with how kids act. But recently there was a line about "looking in a phonebook" for someone's number. Nathan (Kress, who plays Carly Shay's friend Freddie) and I were like, What's a phonebook?! So they had to change that.

You've been in movies with both Jack Black (The School of Rock) and Steve Carell (Despicable Me). Who's funnier?

Who's funnier?! Ohhh, that's a hard one. I think they have different senses of humor. I love Jack Black; he's funny but so versatile. I got to hang out with Steve while doing press for Despicable Me. He's a really nice guy and had a personality similar to some of the characters he's played. I like finding out people are like who they play in the movies.

Who are your musical influences? What's lurking on Miranda Cosgrove's iPod?

Radiohead, Motley Crue. I think Cher would be the weirdest thing I have on my iPod. (She starts singing Cher's Believe — and rather well, too) Do you belieeevvvveee!

I worked with Rivers Cuomo quite a bit on the new album (High Maintenance, out March 15). I've been listening to Weezer for as long as I can remember.

Has the transition from actor to singer been tough?

Not really. I started taking singing lessons when I was little. On tour, I'm supposed to get vocal rest. So guess that's been tough. I like to talk a lot.

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8467. His blog can be found at tampabay.com/blogs/poplife.

IF YOU GO

Miranda Cosgrove, with special guest Greyson Chance, performs at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Tampa Theatre. $39.50-$99.50. (813) 274-8981.

Still happy being a teen, Miranda Cosgrove to play Tampa Theatre on Feb. 16 02/14/11 [Last modified: Monday, February 14, 2011 8:53pm]

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