Two years ago, Geena Davis' turn as the president in ABC's "Commander in Chief" didn't win a second term. And CBS, the network donning the most big-name actors last fall, was forced to cancel both "Smith," a heist drama headlining film actors Ray Liotta and Virginia Madsen, and "Jericho," the small-town disaster series starring Skeet Ulrich, after poor ratings performances.
Yet big-screen actors continue to place their bets on television, encouraged, perhaps, by what a hit can do.
James Spader and Patricia Arquette have snagged top acting kudos for their work in prime time. Ditto character actor Jeremy Piven, now a household name thanks to his role as ruthless agent Ari Gold in HBO's "Entourage."
The draw goes deeper than mere accolades though. Minnie Driver, who plays Dahlia, a con-mom with a drug habit, on FX's dark comedy "The Riches," likened her TV experience to "being in a wonderful independent film that changes and evolves every week," she said in an e-mail.
Gabriel Byrne has begun shooting the HBO comedy "In Treatment," which casts the Irish actor as a therapist who himself is in therapy. Quirky indie movie actress Parker Posey this fall will headline the Fox comedy "The Return of Jezebel James."
Award-winning actresses Holly Hunter and Glenn Close will also add to TV's cachet by starring in a pair of new cable series. Hunter will play a jaded cop on the new TNT series "Saving Grace," premiering in July, while Close, who two years ago came off strong film roles to star in an entire season of FX's "The Shield," will return to the network this fall in the courtroom drama "Damages."
For James Woods, who stars in CBS' "Shark," series work offers the chance for growth as an actor. "I love doing television, much to my surprise . I get to do a new story each week and our writers are quite successful in integrating character development into each new story line," he said. "I have more opportunity as an actor doing the series all year than doing one feature for several months."
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Here's a look at some popular film stars vying for an Emmy.