Ken Levine on why the little screen is now better than the big screen

Not debatable. This is, simply, Da Truth:

by Ken Levine

Kevin-Spacey-House-of-Cards-NetflixHere’s one of those Friday Questions that became an entire post.

It’s from reader Joseph Scarbrough: 

There was once a time when movie actors were considered, “Too big”, “Too important”, and/or, “Too expensive” to even remotely consider lowering themselves to do TV work (or at least, that’s why none aside from Gary Burghoff reprised their M*A*S*H roles for the series), however, nowadays, Maria Bello, Kevin Spacey, Dennis Quaid, Ashley Judd, James Caan, even Samuel L. Jackson are all doing TV now. What’s your personal opinion on this shift in movie actors migrating to TV? Are the actors trying to broaden and expand their own repertoire, or are networks still in the mindset that a show will only sell if it has star power?

Yes, we lowly television producers used to say, “They’ll all come to us eventually.” Actors who were once insulted that you offered them a multi-million dollar starring role in a television series are now actively campaigning to get on the little screen.

Why? A number of factors.

They age. Meg Ryan can no longer get starring romantic leads no matter how much collagen she uses.

Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, and Tom Cruise are still taking all the good roles.

They can make all the GODFATHER sequels they want – James Caan was killed in the first one.

There are fewer studio movies being made. If movie stars want to still work exclusively in movies they might have to go the independent route. But there’s rarely big money in those. TV pays way better.

They learn the dirty little secret. Being on a series is a good life for an actor. Especially if he’s on a multi-camera show. Very few nights, regular hours, no extended location shooting, week long hiatuses once a month, more exposure, only 22 weeks of work a year, and great salary. That sure beats toiling for a year in Siberia for a film that bombs and winds up only being shown at 35,000 feet.

(Samuel L. Jackson should know this dirty little secret. Before he became a star he was Bill Cosby’s stand-in on THE COSBY SHOW.)

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