It used to be that the way to make it in the entertainment industry was to get a small part on a moderately successful television series. From there, you turn that small part into a big role on a more than moderately successful television series. After that big role, you shoot four or five movies, and hope that one of them is a success. If your jump into the movie world fails, you need to start thinking about getting back on that more than moderately successful series that you left for the big screen. It used to be a never ending circle of TV actors staying TV actors, and movie actors staying movie actors. Occasionally the two mixed, but rarely.
In recent years, however, there has been a huge shift. Movie actors are finding that there is a much steadier life among the TV actors, and have set their sights on seeing their name on a weekly basis in the opening credits of a mega-hit show, rather than trying to make it on a few movies here and there. Take for example, Kiefer Sutherland and Charlie Sheen – bad boys from the 80s, some mediocre hit movies from the late 80s / early 90s. Bam, they hit TV, and they are the heroes of the small screen, one on television’s greatest action drama, and the other on TV’s highest rated comedy. (Let me also not forget to mention Josiah “Jed” Bartlet or Duckie – Martin Sheen and Jon Cryer made the leap and have gotten some of the best reviews of their careers).
Come this fall, the new network shows are littered with those famous faces from the movie premieres as they try their hand at becoming the next Kiefer Sutherland or Charlie Sheen.
On one show, “Six Degrees,” they have pulled together a veritable “who’s who” of young Hollywood. As Michael Douglas’ drug-experimenting daughter in Traffic or the crazed swim-fan in the movie of the same name, Erika Christensen has quickly risen to fame playing strong minded, albeit maladjusted, women. As she looks to be one of the only movie-to-tv actresses to succeed (they tried with Geena Davis, and her show was run into the ground), her fellow costars look to make a bigger name for themselves as well. “Six Degrees” features Hostel’s Jay Hernandez (or would you rather remember him from Crazy/Beautiful?), American Splendor’s Hope Davis (an Indie-movie princess, second only to Maggie Gyllenhaal in art house geek love), and Tom Brady’s fiancé (at least, last I checked…) Bridget Moynahan from I, Robot. Did I mention also that it is created by JJ “my hero forever” Abrams and stars the always amazingly wonderful Campbell Scott from Dying Young????
While ABC’s line up will generate some “doesn’t he look vaguely familiar” and “wasn’t she in that movie we just saw? Why is she on tv” conversations, CBS’s schedule is filled to the brim with celebrated actors, award nominated actors, actors that have recently celebrated a return to the “I want you on my show or in my movie” level, all recognizable, all great. James Woods and Ray Liotta, both fresh off of amazing guest starring turns on “ER,” are the main stars of two of CBS’ most promising dramas. As Sebastian Stark in “Shark”, James Woods hopes to capitalize on his movie viewing fans to sustain him for at least a season, if not 7 or 8. Ray Liotta lends his, dare I say it, “typical” tough guy attitude to the heist drama (“Smith”) that CBS hopes is way better than “Heist” was over on NBC. Joining Liotta for a change of pace are certified movie stars Virginia Madsen (whose wonderful turn in Sideways a few years ago rejuvenated her career), Amy Smart (from Just Friends and the under-celebrated, tragically underrated move Rat Race ha!), and Jonny Lee Miller (the first former Mr. Angelina Jolie, my personal hero from one of the greatest guilty pleasure movies I’ve seen in the past 15 years – Hackers!!!!). CBS managed to also get Skeet Ulrich (Scream, TNT‘s Into the West, the poor man‘s Ethan Hawke….and I mean nothing bad by that – I love him to pieces, but come on they look so much alike! HA), hoping to reinvent his career away from the big screen.
The people at FOX are hoping that you loved Office Space enough to want to watch Ron Livingston every Monday night as a hostage negotiator. Ron Livingston hopes that you loved Office Space enough to want to make him FOX’s next big movie-to-tv star. As an aside, I certainly loved Office Space enough to watch it on every single marching band bus ride I ever took [allow me to also interject that I don‘t appreciate any “one time at band camp“ jokes, so don‘t try it haha], so I will definitely help Ron in his quest to become Kiefer Part 2.
The movie Beautiful Girls came out in 1994 (those of you keeping score, that‘s the second mention of this movie in 4 columns ha). I didn’t see it until 2006. But I fell head-over-heels in love with Timothy Hutton, so I will be the first person to jump on the Timothy-Hutton-for-full-fledged-television-star bandwagon. He plays a key role in the new show “Kidnapped” and NBC hopes people will fall as head over heels in love with the show as I did Timothy. Also hoping to make her mark on the TV world is Clear Rivers herself (from my other serious guilty pleasures Final Destination and Final Destination 2.), Ali Larter, on what I hope will be my favorite new show of the year, “Heroes.” Let us not forget the gorgeous Amanda Peet, a personal favorite of mine, not for her work in The Whole Nine Yards (which I loved), but Igby Goes Down, a really great film starring Kevin McAllister’s cousin Fuller (aka Macaulay Culkin’s little brother Kieran). She hopes to be the person that people talk about the morning after “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” airs (and not those other two guys…Matthew something, and Jane Kazmarek‘s hubby…). The final NBC hopeful who has a real chance of becoming Charlie Sheen Part 2? Alec “yes I may be crazy and I may have caused people to quit my stage play and I may be going through a major custody battle but I’m still always spot on hilarious” Baldwin. As “Friends” went the way of “Will and Grace” and brought major guest stars in to play as the series wound down, I think Alec’s “aces” were the best. If you have not seen his episodes (The One with the Tea Leaves or The One in Massapequa), you must!
Good TV + Good Music = An Obsession
Six Feet Under + Sia “Breathe Me” = A really great ending to an amazing series
Taking it back a bit this week to “Six Feet Under” and their hauntingly beautiful series finale. Sia’s songs are all haunting, ethereal. They remind me a bit of Imogen Heap, and we all know I’m a bit of a fan of her. If you didn’t watch the episode, or aren’t sure what part I’m talking about, the song plays over the final moments of the show as Claire is driving away and you see how life turned out for the family. Beautiful, really. I wasn’t a hard core fan of SFU, but I was BAWLING at the end, and I think the music really contributed to that! Other songs to download – “Where I Belong” and “Don’t Bring Me Down”.
That’s it for this week – check back next week as I talk about what I’d like to see happen on our favorite shows in the 06-07 series, and I give a rundown of how I’m enjoying some of the summer’s new series!
Drop me a line, let me know what you’re thinking – what movie stars would you love to see come to the small screen on a weekly basis? Let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks! J Amrie