Thursday, October 17, 2013

TV’s Most Sustainable Stars

Another season of TV shows is just starting.

In fact, tonight is the season premiere of White Collar on the USA Network. I can’t personally attest to the quality of the show since I’ve only seen a few episodes of it. However, the fact that the show is on its fifth season says something.

The couple of times I did watch, I watched for one reason: Tiffani Thiessen. She, among a few others, is the topic for my blog today. At this point she has got to be considered one of Hollywood’s most sustainable stars.

Thiessen’s first major success was as Kelly Kapowski on Saved By The Bell. That show is still on reruns in syndication (the same can’t be said for Saved By The Bell: The New Class).

After SBTB, Thiessen went on to 90210, keeping things interesting as the vampy Valerie Malone after Shannen Doherty’s departure from the show left a possibility of boredom on the Beverly Hills-themed drama.

Thiessen floundered a bit after her run on 90210. Shows like Fastlane, Good Morning, Miami, and Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place weren’t hugely (or in some cases, at all) successful.

White Collar marks the third hit TV show that Thiessen has been a part of though. That’s enough to get her on this list. Thiessen may have a fourth hit on her resume down the road too. According to rumors from a couple years ago, Thiessen was a strong contender for a season of Dancing with the Stars. Thiessen apparently turned them down, but if she wanted, she could probably have a role on that show too.

Ted Danson is another one who seems to go from hit TV show to hit TV show with relative ease.

Danson was one of the key stars in Cheers, which is still one of the most successful sitcoms of all time. The show ended it’s 10th season with a 84.4 rating. 84 million people tuned in for the series finale! Crazy!

Life was more calm after Cheers ended, but Danson’s absence from network television didn’t last long. He was the main star in Becker, which premeried in 1998 and lasted for six seasons.

Just as Thiessen joined 90210 after it’s initial success, Danson joined C.S.I. in 2011. C.S.I. was an established show, but it was suffering after William Petersen (Gil Grissom) left the series. Laurence Fishburne was a horrible ‘replacement.’ Thankfully Danson came aboard and helped extend the series another two seasons so far.

If we’re talking about actors in successful TV shows, we’ve got to talk about Betty White. From Mary Tyler Moore to The Golden Girls to TV Land’s current hit: Hot in Cleveland. She’s also the voice of Agatha McLeish on Pound Puppies.

When it comes to Betty White, you can’t just talk about her roles on those series. You have to mention her dozens of guest appearances too. Betty played Kitty’s mother on That 70’s Show, Brick’s librarian on The Middle, and he former secretary-turned-cake-vendor on Boston Legal. Then there were her guest appearances on Who’s The Boss, Ally McBeal and My Name Is Earl.

Who can forget Betty White’s landmark appearance on Saturday Night Live in 2010. After one of the largest campaigns in Facebook history, Betty White nabbed the spot as host and brought in major ratings – the highest in the 18 months prior to her appearance.

She does have a few failed projects under her belt. The most recent was Off Their Rockers, a hidden-camera show that NBC cancelled after one season.

If there’s anyone who may be able to match Betty White’s IMDB listing, it’s William Shatner. The man has 207 appearances as an actor. According to George Takei, Shatner is a jerk, but even Takei can’t deny Shatner’s sustainability as an actor.

Star Trek was the major hit, but since then Shatner made guest appearances on all kinds of TV shows, including: Columbo, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Cosby, and Psych. He appeared as a series regular on Boston Legal and was The Big Giant Head on 3rd Rock from the Sun. Then there’re the Priceline commercials.

Leonard Nimoy may be the one still getting roles in big-budget Star Trek movies, but William Shatner is the king of the small screen.

He’s had a some movie roles as well – in Airplane II, Miss Congeniality and others. It seems William Shatner will be able to find work as an actor until he’s ready to call it quits.

Courtney Thorne-Smith is another very sustainable star. She has gotten roles on multiple hit TV shows.

She got her first big break as Alison Parker on Melrose Place, the 90210 spin-off.

There were rumors that her departure from that show was because she was difficult to work with. That didn’t seem to stop her though. She went on to star in eight seasons of According to Jim.

When it comes to Smith, her success seems to be more minor, regular appearances, rather than being the show’s main attraction.

She played Ally’s ex-boyfriends wife on Ally McBeal and Alan’s girlfriend during four seasons of Two and a Half Men. Not shabby at all for someone who started acting back in the '90s.

Wendie Malick is another who has plugged along, making appearances in several different series, despite not being the main star. She had roles in Baywatch, Mad About You, Seinfeld and The American President in the 1990s, but her first role as a series regular was on the show Just Shoot Me from 1997 to 2003.

After that she became the love interest to Martin Crane on Frasier, made 1-episode appearances in C.S.I., Reba and Law and Order, and starred in a series of family-friendly and animated movies.

Most recently she became one-fourth of the cast on Hot In Cleveland.

Malick, Danson, Thiessen, Shatner, Smith and even White may not be the most recognizable stars in Hollywood, but they’ve all got solid resumes and don’t seem to have issues finding work.

When I was a kid I wanted to be an actor. I always thought it’d be best to be one of those recognizable faces; maybe not even a name people remember, but one that people recognize and go, ‘Oh, that’s the one guy from that one movie.’

I’d keep on keeping on, starring in TV shows and movies and doing whatever projects came along that seemed like a good fit.

That method certainly seems to be working for this bunch.

Related Content:
Gravity – reviewed.
The Hart of Dixie (Season 1) - reviewed.
TV's Most Annoying Neighbors
TV's faceless characters

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