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A new luster

Film stars are taking a shine to TV's acting challenges.

June 06, 2007|Denise Martin

STAR wattage isn't always enough to power a TV series week after week -- even when those stars have resumes littered with Academy Awards and blockbuster movies.

Two years ago, Geena Davis' turn as the president in ABC's "Commander in Chief" didn't win a second term. And CBS, the network donning the most big-name actors last fall, was forced to cancel both "Smith," a heist drama headlining film actors Ray Liotta and Virginia Madsen, and "Jericho," the small-town disaster series starring Skeet Ulrich, after poor ratings performances.

Yet big-screen actors continue to place their bets on television, encouraged, perhaps, by what a hit can do. James Spader and Patricia Arquette have snagged top acting kudos for their work in prime time. Ditto character actor Jeremy Piven, now a household name thanks to his role as ruthless agent Ari Gold in HBO's "Entourage."

The draw goes deeper than mere accolades though. Minnie Driver, who plays Dahlia, a con-mom with a drug habit, on FX's dark comedy "The Riches," likened her TV experience to "being in a wonderful independent film that changes and evolves every week," she said in an e-mail.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday June 06, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 33 words Type of Material: Correction
"Entourage": A photo of Jeremy Piven and Rex Lee in the HBO series "Entourage" in today's Envelope section is credited to Jonathan Hession of Showtime. The photo is by Claudette Barius of HBO.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 07, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 51 words Type of Material: Correction
Film stars on TV: An article in Wednesday's print edition of The Envelope said Sally Field had won the 1991 Razzie Award for worst actress for the movie "Not Without My Daughter." Field was a nominee for that film, but the award went to Sean Young in "A Kiss Before Dying."

Gabriel Byrne has begun shooting the HBO comedy "In Treatment," which casts the Irish actor as a therapist who himself is in therapy. Quirky indie movie actress Parker Posey this fall will headline the Fox comedy "The Return of Jezebel James." Award-winning actresses Holly Hunter and Glenn Close will also add to TV's cachet by starring in a pair of new cable series. Hunter will play a jaded cop on the new TNT series "Saving Grace," premiering in July, while Close, who two years ago came off strong film roles to star in an entire season of FX's "The Shield," will return to the network this fall in the courtroom drama "Damages."

For James Woods, who stars in CBS' "Shark," series work offers the chance for growth as an actor. "I love doing television, much to my surprise.... I get to do a new story each week and our writers are quite successful in integrating character development into each new story line," he said. "I have more opportunity as an actor doing the series all year than doing one feature for several months."

Here's a look at some popular film stars vying for an Emmy.

-- Denise Martin


Patricia Arquette

Currently stars in: NBC's "Medium."

Last on the big screen: In last year's film adaptation of "Fast Food Nation."

Breakthrough film role: Opposite Christian Slater in the 1993 crime drama "True Romance."

Awards and nominations: Won the 2005 lead actress in a drama Emmy for "Medium." Nominated for the best kiss prize with Christian Slater at the 1994 MTV Movie Awards for their smooch in "True Romance." Nominated for a worst supporting actress Razzie Award in 2001 for her role in "Little Nicky."

Minnie Driver

Currently stars in: FX grifter comedy "The Riches."

Breakthrough film role: "Circle of Friends" opposite Chris O'Donnell in 1995.

Next on the big screen: "The Simpsons Movie" in July.

Awards and nominations: Nominated for an Oscar in 1998 for her supporting performance in "Good Will Hunting." Also nominated for best kiss (with costar Matt Damon) at the MTV Movie Awards.

Sally Field

Currently stars in: ABC's prime-time soap "Brothers & Sisters."

Breakthrough film role: As a single mom and textile worker in 1979's "Norma Rae."

Last on the big screen: In last year's small-budget family drama "Two Weeks."

Awards and nominations: Two lead actress Oscars -- in 1980 for "Norma Rae" and in 1985 for "Places in the Heart." Two Emmys -- one in 2001 for her guest role on "ER" and another in 1977 for "Sybil." Received a Razzie for worst actress in 1991 for her work in "Not Without My Daughter."

Jeff Goldblum

Currently stars in: NBC's "Raines."

Next on the big screen: Opposite Willem Dafoe in the 2008 release "Adam Resurrected."

Breakthrough film role: "The Big Chill" in 1983.

Awards and nominations: Nominated for an Emmy in 2005 for his guest role on "Will & Grace." Nominated for an Oscar in 1996 for directing the short film "Little Surprises." Nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in 1993 for his supporting role in the police thriller "Deep Cover."

Mary McDonnell

Currently stars in: Sci Fi Channel's space drama "Battlestar Galactica."

Breakthrough film role: In 1990 as Stands With a Fist in Kevin Costner's "Dances With Wolves"

Last on the big screen: In 2001's dark comedy "Donnie Darko."

Awards and nominations: Nominated for an Emmy in 2001 for a guest role in "ER." Nominated twice for an Oscar -- in 1991 for "Dances With Wolves" and in 1993 for "Passion Fish."

Elizabeth Perkins

Currently stars in: Showtime's comedy series "Weeds."

Breakthrough film role: Opposite Tom Hanks in 1988's "Big."

Last on the big screen: Opposite Diane Lane in the 2005 romantic comedy "Must Love Dogs."

Awards and nominations: Nominated twice for Golden Globes and once for an Emmy for "Weeds."

Jeremy Piven

Currently stars in: HBO's showbiz comedy "Entourage."

Breakthrough film role: In the 1989 teen romance "Say Anything."

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