TORONTO, Ontario / Toronto Sun / Entertainment TV / May 12, 2011
By Kevin Williamson, QMI Agency
Alec Baldwin, Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland have made the move to television. (WENN.COM photos)
At 50, Hugh Grant's too old to swing a god's hammer, climb walls or emote opposite an alien robot. (Actually, you're never too old for that.)
And considering he's better known for wielding one-liners than bat-a-rangs, what's so surprising about the British actor -- in the current climate of comic book-minded movies -- circling to replace Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men? More baffling, frankly, would be if he ends up rejecting it.
Fact is, increasing numbers of film stars -- Jeremy Irons, Steve Buscemi and Kathy Bates, to name three current ones -- are transitioning to the small screen, lured by the promise of greater creative control and heftier paydays. Some, as the following 10 examples highlight, more successfully than others:
Kiefer Sutherland: The role of counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer on 24 made the former lost boy one of Hollywood's highest-paid actors; in 2006, he signed a three-year, $40 million contract for the show's final seasons. With Bauer retired, Sutherland is set to star in a new Fox drama: the Knowing-meets-Sixth Sense drama, Touch, in which he'll play the father of a boy who can forecast the future.
Alec Baldwin: He's a little negative like 30 Rock is a little funny. And yes, he has a point about some of the movies he's made (i.e.: My Best Friend's Girl). But even if Baldwin follows through with his threats to quit acting, at least he's going out on a positive note thanks to his Emmy-winning work as network executive Jack Donaghy.
Richard Dreyfuss: He starred in Jaws and survived. But on the CBS series The Education of Max Bickford he got eaten alive. (Apparently Max didn't have that much to learn since the drama only lasted the 2001/2002 season.) Dreyfuss has kept busy since -- and even did a stint on Weeds -- but has never attempted to carry another series on his own again.
Bette Midler: She's won three Emmys -- including one for her musical salute to Johnny Carson. But there was no such celebratory send-off for her sitcom Bette, which lasted a mere 16 episodes beginning in 2000. (A pre-pre-jail Lindsay Lohan played Midler's daughter in the pilot.)
Glenn Close: The older the actress, the fewer the meaningful film parts. So it was no surprise when Close joined The Shield in 2005. In 2007, she got her own series, Damages. Other non-ingénues who've ventured to the small screen recently include Holly Hunter (Saving Grace), Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer) and Sally Field (Brothers and Sisters).
Laurence Fishburne: For every corpse that bobs up on a TV procedural, there's a movie actor to take the case. Fishburne stars on CSI, of course, but there are also Gary Sinise (CSI: New York), Forrest Whitaker (Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior) and Chris O'Donnell (NCIS: Los Angeles).
Patrick Dempsey: After a career as a teen heartthrob in the 1980s (Loverboy, Can't Buy Me Love) he spent more than a decade in supporting roles (Scream 3, Sweet Home Alabama) before being cast as "McDreamy" on Grey's Anatomy.
Christian Slater: And you thought Al-Qaeda was having a re-building week. Slater's third series, the comedy Breaking In, just got axed by Fox. It follows NBC's My Own Worst Enemy and ABC's The Forgotten.
Chevy Chase: NBC's Community has done the impossible: it's made the famously failed late-night host more than just a punchline or, worse, a relic of the 1970s and 1980s.
Joseph Fiennes: If only the star of Shakespeare in Love could have foreseen that FlashForward, no matter what ABC intended, would never be the next Lost.
Who's next to leap from film to television?
Dustin Hoffman: The acting legend will star in Luck, a horse racing drama from HBO and director Michael Mann (Heat). The supporting ensemble includes Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina, Joan Allen and Michael Gambon.
Kevin Spacey: The Oscar winner is teaming with director David Fincher (The Social Network) for House of Cards, the first TV series that will be distributed by Netflix.
Ethan Hawke: His gritty espionage pilot, Exit Strategy, reportedly didn't land on Fox's fall schedule, but could still be overhauled for a later date.
Zooey Deschanel: The 500 Days of Summer actress and She & Him singer is starring in Fox's fall comedy, The New Girl.
Kevin Kline: The notoriously selective actor will star in an HBO drama about a doctor just out of prison after being convicted of murder.
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