In its first two months on the air, Nickelodeon's "iCarly" has showcased dozens of kids with unusual talents: balancing spoons on their faces, squirting milk from their eyes, spinning basketballs, showing off crazy dance moves and making weird faces.
If things had turned out differently for "iCarly" star Miranda Cosgrove, she might have been one of 23,000 kids to send in a video showing an unusual talent. And what might that be? "I can shake my eyes," she said. "I have an extra eye muscle, so it looks like everything is shaking."
Cool as that sounds, Miranda probably has a brighter future showing off her other skills: singing the "iCarly" theme (with former co-star Drake Bell) and starring as the levelheaded teen host of a home-grown Web show.
The 14-year-old actress says she enjoys playing a character so unlike Megan, the seemingly sweet but "evil little sister" she portrayed for three years on "Drake & Josh."
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"It's different playing a character who is embarrassed and has problems with boys," Miranda said. "Carly is more like a regular person."
"iCarly" creator Dan Schneider -- a former actor himself ("Head of the Class") -- was confident that Miranda could play another type of character.
"I was looking for someone to play it cool and be wise beyond her years. It's been real fun to watch Miranda hit that dead-on. Also, she's a beautiful girl, with amazing features -- a doll to look at. Another thing, she's very classy. That's unusual in a little kid -- the poise and the way she carries herself."
Schneider was careful to make Miranda's new character more than an extension of her old one.
"Part of my job was to create a new world for her, a multifaceted character for her. I was a little concerned that kids and families who watch this would think this is just Megan pretending to be someone else. But I've checked the message boards, and they don't see that; they see a new character."
Miranda avoids online discussion groups, where fans can be mean-spirited.
"It's a little bit like high school. People have opinions," she said. "Some of my best friends, they're the ones who get mad and make up a name and reply. It's funny; you'd think I'd be the one."
Miranda has been working in television since age 3, when she was in a Mello Yello ad. At 9, she appeared in the Jack Black movie "School of Rock," playing the preppy, tone-deaf band manager (she took a lesson in bad singing to get it right). At the same time, she was picked to begin her on-screen harassment of Drake and Josh.
Schneider predicts long-term success for Miranda similar to that of other Nick actors he has tutored, including Kenan Thompson, Drake Bell, Josh Peck, Amanda Bynes and Nick Cannon.
"That's what I see from Miranda in the future," he said. "I think Miranda will be an extremely sought-after actress."