*You know what’s an interesting study? Turn to the television listings page and check out the sheer amount of acting talent that has filtered itself onto smaller screens.
Robin Williams, Taraji P. Henson and Toni Collette – Oscar nominees all – are on CBS. Rebel Wilson and Malin Akerman are on ABC. Kevin Bacon and Zooey Deschanel are on Fox. James Spader and Michael J. Fox are on NBC.
These are all movie stars, legitimate ones with above-the-image movie poster potential. Oh, and the influx of talent to the networks isn’t stopping anytime soon. Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaghey are toplining a HBO series called True Detective, and the luminous Halle Berry is headed to CBS for a high-concept series called Extant, which sounds just awesome enough to be a smash.
What’s with the change? For decades, television has played second fiddle to the allure of the movies – the glitz and the glamour of Hollywood just couldn’t beat the stature of the small screen. Yet, it sure seems like we’re seeing a sea change in the entire industry. The golden era of American television has seen exceptional talent – Shonda Rhimes, Matt Weiner, Vince Gilligan – go behind the camera for cable networks, enjoying the creative freedom and scope on television they couldn’t get in the movie industry. We get shows like Scandal and Mad Men and Breaking Bad from them, all packed with the kind of innovation and smarts that just can’t be found in the endless parade of soulless films and desperate blockbusters that
Another benefit from this small-screen migration? We get to see a lot more talented African-American actors get their own showcase for their talent. Kerry Washington’s already become a star with Scandal, Nicole Beharie has a smash with Sleepy Hollow and Berry could get even bigger with Extant. It’s a heck of a lot easier to build something impressive on television – full of countless networks, plenty of advertising revenue and tons of money floating around – than it is to get financing to an increasingly-fractured movie industry. Even better, the growing streaming industry (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon) will provide even more plum television roles, with plenty of episodes out there for the public to enjoy. Let’s just hope that these roles continue to go to all of those talented African-American actors and actresses out there.