Bruce Fretts
April 08, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Supermodels and rock & rollers aren’t the only ones launching acting careers. Lately you can’t stop by a multiplex or turn on a major network without stumbling across some MTV refugee aspiring to be the next Olivier. By casting such music-video personalitities as Denis Leary, Karen Duffy, and Dan Cortese, producers are blatantly trying to lure young viewers weaned on the cable channel. But judging by what we’ve seen so far, MTV isn’t going to rival the Actors’ Studio as a breeding ground for master thespians.

Chris Connelly

MTV experience: Smiley, sarcastic host of the recently canceled movie- preview show The Big Picture. Acting credits: Unctuous interviewer of Whitney Houston at the Oscars in The Bodyguard (”I’m on screen slightly longer than Jessica Rabbit’s private parts,” quips Connelly) and of Arnold Schwarzenegger at a movie premiere in Last Action Hero. Bottom line: With such a limited range, he shouldn’t quit his day job as executive editor of Premiere.

Dan Cortese

MTV experience: Hyper head jock of the extreme athletics show MTV Sports. Acting credits: A drifter in last season’s NBC dud Route 66; Elaine’s pretty-boy beau on a recent episode of Seinfeld; a crooner at Taco Bell in Demolition Man (”I just had to sound bad, then look bad when I get shot to death by Wesley Snipes,” Cortese says); George C. Scott’s smartass grandson on the new CBS cop drama Traps. Bottom line: He’s got the looks. Who needs the talent?

Dre and Ed Lover

MTV experience: Slapstick cohosts of weekday installments of Yo! MTV Raps. Acting credits: Cameos as judges of a DJ contest in the gritty inner-city drama Juice; lead roles as hapless barbers-turned-hapless cops in the giddy inner-city farce Who’s the Man? (”People have called us the black Abbott and Costello,” says Dre proudly). Bottom line: Their film careers should last at least as long as the Fat Boys’.

Karen Duffy

MTV experience: Bouncy, flirty night-time veejay (MTV Prime With Duff). Acting credits: Bit parts in Malcolm X, 29th Street, Who’s the Man?, and Last Action Hero; a leggy FBI agent who works undercover at a corrupt bank- and, creepily, becomes a love interest for the 10-year-old hero-in the Disney kiddie comedy Blank Check. Bottom line: She’s most believable in Reality Bites, as a bad actress in an MTV-style soap opera.

Denis Leary

MTV experience: Those chain-smoking, ranting-and-raving network promos. Acting credits: A slew of small roles — as a lounge lizard in Loaded Weapon, a distant stepdad in The Sandlot, and various psychos in Judgment Night, Who’s the Man?, Demolition Man, and Gunmen — led to his first lead, as a chain-smoking, ranting-and-raving burglar in The Ref. Bottom line: He’s a gifted comic actor, but his incessant tirades are growing tiresome.

Jay Mohr

MTV experience: Faux-homeboy host of the lip-synching game show Lip Service Acting credits: A doofus named Dorfman in the mercifully short-lived ABC sitcom Camp Wilder; now a featured performer on Saturday Night Live, which often requires him to remove his shirt and imitate muscleheads like Red Hot Chili Pepper Anthony Kiedis. Bottom line: He’s managed to carve out a niche playing dorks and jerks.

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