Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Movie Stars Transitioning to TV

Entertainment Weekly, my personal entertainment news addiction site, came up with a wish list of movie stars that they'd like to see starring in a TV show next fall/winter/summer (cable does it all!). You have to admit, cable and premium networks having been pulling more than their own weight creatively in the last few years, and the move to TV is looking much less stigmatized than it did in the 90s. HBO seems to hire its own cavalcade of movie stars every season, with actors like Anna Paquin, Steve Buschemi, and Bill Paxton committing to star in multiple seasons on their respective shows.

I've said many times that I think TV is experiencing a bit of a creative golden age right now. There are many quality shows on cable right now that have been given a chance to thrive because they're not competing for one of the twenty-one coveted hours (it's really only eighteen hours because Saturday programming is still a joke) of primetime that any of the Big Four networks have available any given season. I love that the current TV climate allows shows like In Plain Sight to have already guaranteed fourth and fifth seasons after they've only wrapped three seasons. I also love that NBC could cancel a show as heart-stopping and gut-wrenching (in a good way) as Southland, only for TNT to come to its rescue in the eleventh hour. Suddenly being rejected by the Peacock isn't an automatic funeral for a good show. (Where were you when My So-Called Life and Once and Again needed you, cable?)

Since cable networks are now spending more money producing scripted original programming, the shows have shorter seasons, often running somewhere between eight and thirteen episode. While I'm a fan of TV seasons lasting as long as possible so I can enjoy them longer, I'd be silly not to admit that there are some wonderful advantages to shorter seasons. The best, in my opinion, is that because the shows are only in production for six months or so out of the year, the actors have time to pursue other projects for part of the year. They don't have to give up starring in movies or theatre altogether. They can play interesting roles on TV, playing characters that take several seasons to develop, but they can still pursue other things.

To go back to my entry point for this post, I'm nuts about the idea of movie actors starring in TV shows! In a lot of cases, TV is the beneficiary. The medium of TV is developing in fascinating ways right now, and I for one am excited to see the blurring of the lines between film and television.

What do you think? Are you a fan of "filmic TV", or annoyed with it? Are there any film actors you'd like to see become regulars on a TV show? The comments section is your friend!


  1. Never seen "In Plain Sight." Is it worthy? I sort of like when big screen actors leave the tv shows to relative unknowns, so we can discover more talent. But I love when they guest star.

  2. I was surprised how much I liked In Plain Sight when I started watching during season 2! I caught Mary McCormick on a talk show doing press for the show, and thought she was HILARIOUS, so I started watching her show. It's a character drama pretending to be a procedural, and she's great in it.

    I love the idea of TV shows discovering new talent, but I like it when established stars can anchor a new show and flex their acting muscles.