The movie industry should have seen it coming that the growing attraction of movie stars to cable shows and miniseries would eventually extend beyond HBO. In the last decade, HBO has become such a hot attraction to A-list movie stars that it seems you see more of those stars there than in a theatrical film not nearly half as daring. Showtime, in contrast, has always been in the shadow of HBO, plus catering more to stars who've nurtured their talent mostly on television.
But when the brilliant "Homeland" started on Showtime this year, it must have been from a concerted effort to bring the network out of the notion that it caters to shows about vices. Yes, reefer and sex-saturated "Weeds" and "Californication" are populist, well-written entertainment, though they don't have the compelling nature of drama that HBO (or even AMC) has mastered. With drama arguably being at its peak right now in the world of fiction, you can see why Showtime wants to get in on the possibility of creating an exodus of A-list movie stars to their series roster.
And that may just happen now that "Homeland" managed to beat the juggernaut "Mad Men" to win Emmy's Best Drama. Even if there might be an exodus, it may consist of a type of actor going along on that trek to the promised land of cable TV. Most of the A-list movie stars we've seen heading to HBO and other cable networks of late are ones who demand the best scripts and only seen once every couple of years on the big screen.
Some of those examples are Dustin Hoffman, who could have had a long run on HBO with his horse racing drama "Luck" if not for the unfortunate deaths of horses on set. You also have Julianne Moore who managed to become Sarah Palin's doppelganger in Emmy-winning "Game Change" on HBO. Let's also not forget Oscar winner Jessica Lange in "American Horror Story" on FX.
All of the above are only seen periodically in theatrical movies when they used to be so ubiquitous there. They also come from the old school of acting where terrific scripts are what to expect rather than hope will eventually land in their mailbox. America's bevy of Millennial actors likely have no idea what the older breed of actors have to go through now in finding scripts and projects that don't fail the classic standard.
That, of course, is a good thing for the era of cable when classic movie actors gravitate to the quality of cable in ensuing years while mainstream movie scripts fall into mediocrity. Showtime, in particular, should start focusing on creating shows that adhere to what the classic era of filmmaking demanded: Crackling dialogue and gobsmacking situations. "Homeland" has all this and more, complete with younger actors Damien Lewis and Claire Danes, two actors a little above the standard of their movie peers.
If Showtime starts going this route, don't be surprised to start seeing them attracting classic movie stars of the last 50 years such as Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Barbra Streisand, or Raquel Welch for series and movies. When that starts happening all over cable, Showtime may be the only cable network left that actually lives up to its name.
- Arts & Entertainment