So this has become a weekly column for the summer months. Once the new fall season starts rolling, I promise this column will appear more frequently. Unfortunately, the heat of summer dulls my brain, and it becomes extremely difficult to be witty on a daily basis. I also think I've been watching too many COPS marathons. There's something about those hooligans in wife beater t-shirts who sport mullets that kills brain cells. A scientific study is warranted.
TV is the younger brother to film, so goes the conventional thinking. For years, you couldn't get a movie star to "stoop" to doing a TV show. The prestige wasn't as great, and the working hours can be brutal. But something has changed in the last few years. Suddenly, TV is cool. That little brother is all grown up and looking mighty fine.
This fall, there's a new bumper crop of film stars taking the plunge into headlining primetime shows. Sally Field will be the matriarch of a family on ABC's Brothers and Sisters. James Woods will play a jerky defense attorney who uses his deep insights to help win cases for the DA in Shark. Alec Baldwin, a frequent guest host on Saturday Night Live will play some version of himself on Tina Fey's new sitcom 30 Rock. Even Salma Hayek is getting into the TV biz, executive producing Betty the Ugly for ABC and also making cameos as a telenovela star within the show.
So why the change? Why is TV suddenly cool? One reason given by these actors is the need for a set schedule. TV provides a mean for a steady gig (and paycheck). While it may involve some long shooting days, it also means staying in one place for awhile and having time with family, especially during production breaks. Movie schedules can be erratic and actors could be on location for weeks.
But the main reason? Good scripts. These actors were attracted to their shows by the caliber of the writing. The show may not be able to hold up over time (see Geena Davis in Commander in Chief) but at least the pilot and the roles for the actors were something they could sink their teeth into. TV is getting good press, just as film revenues are falling. Video on demand is changing the market, and these actors know that to keep a fanbase, it is better that they see your face more often than once every fourteen months.
What's in the news: USA's new show Psych pulled good numbers in its first week. Keep an eye on the ratings this week to see how it holds up. Monk has returned, and though its ratings are strong, they were off 20% from last summer's season premiere. Are you watching The Closer? Talk about another film actress to TV actress success story. Kyra Sedgewick is great, and my money is on her to win the Emmy come fall.
Need to see an episode of now cancelled E-ring? You're in luck! NBC will "burn off" the last episode on August 5.
Speaking of movie stars moving to TV, Holly Hunter may be headlining a new cop drama on TNT called Grace. I guess she has been watching The Closer too!
I plan to tune in for Eureka on Sci-Fi this week (premieres Tuesday July 18 at 9:00 Eastern /8:00 Central). I'm a sucker for a show about geniuses.
Summer continues to be slow. In the meantime, check out the forums here on Movieweb! Talk about the fall shows you are most excited to see.