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« TIFF Jury of One: Nathaniel| Main| The Link Graze »
Wednesday
Sep 17 2014

Top Ten: Movie Stars Coming to TV

Margarethere,with a Tuesday Wednesday Top Ten.Ready to rank the incoming class of movie stars trying their hand at the small screen.Every TV season,a new group of movie actors crops up on the fall schedule,either because scarcity of good film roles or the lure of a hefty paycheck.

Here are the top ten series soon to debut,in order of how much we're looking forward a weekly date with their stars.Set your DVRs accordingly!

#10 True Detective - HBO - 2015

This spot is a placeholder for True Detective Season 2,the impossibly buzzy crime drama anthology series at HBO.While the show has yet to cast its leads,if any of the numerous rumours prove true it will certainly feature at least one famous and undervalued actor looking for a McConnaissance of his or her very own.Although it's not due until early 2015,it's safe to assume we'll be hearing at least as much about it all fall as we will any other show.

#9 Madam Secretary - CBS - 8 pm Sunday,9/21

Téa Leoni stars in this drama series as a female Secretary of State.(Sure,she's got a globally-essential job,but what I want to know iscan she have it all????) It's CBS,so unless it turns out to be aGood Wife-type anomaly,chances that it will be a formula-busting creative showcase are low.The supporting cast includes Tony winners Patina Miller (Pippin) and Bebe Neuwirth (Chicago,Sweet Charity),so we can always hold out hope for a musical number.

8 more starry series after the jump...

#8 State of Affairs - NBC - 10 pm Monday,11/17
Katharine Heigl,in a bid to bounce back from a stalled movie career,stars in this political thriller as a CIA analyst and advisor to the president,played by the incomparable Alfre Woodard.While there may be many who eagerly await Heigl's return to TV,to my mind the real draw here is Woodard.Can you describe her presence without using the word queenly?President may do just as well.

#7 Gotham - FOX - 8pm Monday,9/22
Cashing in on Batman mania,this prequel series focuses on Detective James Gordon's early days on the Gotham City police force.Many of the franchise's most famous villains make appearances as their younger selves,and Jada Pinkett Smith is in the mix as a gang boss with the misfortune to be named Fish Mooney.The show certainly has the brand power to be a hit,and Smith has been publicly enthusiastic about playing evil-- perhaps this will be more successful than her past TV work.

#6 Black-ish - ABC - 9:30pm Wednesday,9/24
The only sitcom on this list,Black-ishfeatures Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne,who also executive produce.A comic take on class and racial identity,the show was developed by the very sharp and very funny Larry Wilmore (ofDaily Showfame).Oscar-nominee Fishburne is worth watching in everything,though his role in this is recurring rather than regular,and it's great to see Anderson and his comic chops take center stage.Balancing humor with pointed cultural commentary is a tough order on network TV,but that team has a strong shot at pulling it off.

#5 Empire - FOX - Spring 2015
This doesn't premiere until mid-season,but it simply will not be ignored.Lee Daniels has created a musical drama series about a family hip-hop empire that stars Taraji P.Henson,Terrence Howard,and Gabourey Sidibe.If it's anything like Lee Daniels' other work it will be messy and captivating and compulsively watchable;in other words,great TV.All three stars have been Oscar-nominated,but Henson and Sidibe in particular have been drastically underserved by their post-nomination roles and a soapy primetime showcase could be just what they need.


#4 Red Band Society - FOX - 9pm Wednesday,9/17 (tonight!)
This hour-long dramedy based on a Catalan series has been described as "Grey's AnatomymeetsGlee".While that may not be for everyone,it sure zeroes in on an audience with great potential for devoted fandom.Everyone's best friendOctavia Spencer plays the tough-but-caring pediatric ward nurse.Though she's definitely an ensemble player here,it goes some of the way towards salving the wounds inflicted by the abandonment of thatMurder,She Wrotereboot in which Spencer was meant to star.

#3 Mozart in the Jungle - Amazon - All episodes available December 2014
You may not know what this is supposed to be about.But it stars Gael Garcia Bernal,Malcolm McDowell,andBernadette Peters.

Isn't that really all we need to know?

Okay,how about the logline "sex,drugs,and classical music"?You there yet?I am.

#2 American Horror Story: Freak Show - FX - 10pm Wednesday,10/8
Ryan Murphy is back for round four of his actressexual catnip series,with most of his troupe returning to vamp and rage in another camp-friendly setting.Academy Award winners Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates return,along with Academy Award Win- (damnit) Angela Bassett and Gabourey Sidibe,and Academy Award Nom- (damnit) Sarah Paulson.The advertising has thus far been cryptic,but everyone who's known and loved the previous series should be chomping at the bit for this one.

#1 How to Get Away with Murder - ABC - 10pm Thursday,9/25
VIOLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.Viola as a mysterious-sexy-brilliant criminal law professor withdark secrets! I have watchedthe teaser for this showmore times than I should probably publicly admit and I get chillsevery time.

Mark your calendars.We owe it to Viola,and to ourselves,to make this show a hit.Setting aside how one might feel about Shonda Rhimes' ouvre,to watch this show is to take one small step towards gaining Ms.Davis the Oscar she so richly deserves.Once she's a bankable television star (and making that network-drama $),she'll be able to finance that Barbara Jordan Biopic she's beentrying to get off the ground since 2010.(Tony Kushner himself has written her a script.) From there it's just a short walk to the podium in the Dolby Theater."

What are you most looking forward to this TV season?Do you have hunches about which of these are going to avoid cancellation?

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Reader Comments (14)

This article is an unintentional reminder that non-white female talent have no value for the American film business.

September 17,2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

VIOLAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!Don't get me wrong,I'm excited about the others too,but mainly VIOLAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

September 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

Empireand that Mozart show are intriguing,to say the least.I'm there.

September 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

They all look good on paper (except State of Affairs.I doubt even Woodard can save that.) I don't hold out much for Madame or Red Band either.

The ones I'm most looking forward too are Mozart,How too and Black-ish but I'll give Empire a look see as well.

September 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

How is it that this is the first I've ever heard about "Empire"?!Yes to all of it.Every.Single.Thing.

And yes to the success of "How to Get Away with Murder"even if it winds up being horrid.Anything that keeps Viola indelibly imprinted in the public consciousness is fine with me.I have a hunch that this is nothing more than a shrewd business move on her part anyway.She is fully aware that in order to have the film career she wants from henceforth that she has to play the game in a particular way.The show becomes a sensation,she rakes in the bucks,maybe wins an Emmy (or is at least nominated),and the rest of the story writes itself.

September 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Oh dear.The Slate.com TV critic weighed in on #4 and #9,as well as Debra Messing's new show.The news isn't pretty.Sigh.We,the audience,will have to be the judge.

And for #5,why isn't Gabby on the poster?

September 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

THR also weighed in on #4 and Miss Messy's Mess on NBC.No kind words.

The opening line of the review for Mysteries is: Egregiously bad NBC series makes you wonder if anyone saw it before it got on the air.

September 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

I really need to temper my expectations for HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER because it's just another procedural but i love viola so much that it's hard not to be excited.Also: I never like Shonda Rhimes serious even while i'm glad that she's been a success.

Troy -- i think Empire looks really interesting,too.

September 17,2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

As far as Gotham is concerned: Just read Gotham Central.Your local library probably has it.

September 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Empire and VIOLAAAAAAAAAAAAAA are what I'm looking forward to.Can't wait!

September 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Genzlinger at NYT thinks there's potential for Messing's new show.I hope so--Debra's very watchable.She was one of the best things about the ill-fated Smash.

I am practically salivating for the return of Ms.Lange!

September 17,2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

That last line about how Viola needs to first become a bankable TV star to finance the film she's been trying to get made since 2010 made me quite sad.Christ,the hoops our amazing black actresses have to jump through for anything...

September 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPJay

I FLOVE the way Viola says the title of her show in that promo!

September 17,2014 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

"CHAMPING at the bit!A horse CHAMPS!"

-Jack Donaghy

;)

September 18,2014 | Unregistered CommenterJake D

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