Ken Tucker
October 22, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

When you’re a TV star, it’s easy to lose perspective — after all, you’re famous, you’re surrounded by yes-people, you’re no longer mingling with the masses. And that’s how faulty career moves happen. Herewith, a few suggestions for performers who seem to be in need of professional advice:

David Duchovny

Your X-Files contract is up at season’s end, you’re suing your own studio for making squirrelly rerun deals, and you’ve accused your boss of conspiring with the squirrels — David, where are you going next (besides Disney World with your new baby)? Here’s an idea: Even if your feature-film career hasn’t exactly taken off (Playing God?!), your X-Files directorial effort was top-notch, so why not embrace your inner Tarantino? Or better yet: CBS is updating The Fugitive — go grab David Janssen’s lead role. You’d be playing a loner (i.e., wouldn’t have to share screen time with some fetching but irksome costar), and the show’s being overseen by John McNamara, who’s done smart, interesting projects like Profit. Think it over and then start joggin’, Dave.

Gina Gershon

Girl, what were you thinking? Sure, David E. Kelley created Snoops, but you didn’t really think he was going to be paying much attention to this froufrou P.I. lark, did you? This show reduces your big-screen slinkiness to small-screen simpering. If you want to stay in TV, we propose Unbound: The Sitcom, in which you play an independent city gal. We picture you as a wisecracking yet romantically inclined woman: a combination of Mary Richards, Eve Arden, Eartha Kitt as the Catwoman, Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday, and your own bad self. And every once in a while, you could make a leather outfit your very special guest star.

Christina Applegate

Jesse, sinking quickly in its second season, clearly wasn’t the vehicle you’d hoped would lift you above your Married…With Children bimbo type-casting. Instead, it makes your screen persona seem…what’s the word?…all right, dull. You need a producer who’ll pull a Susan Dey on you: Remember when she was briefly reborn as a Serious Actress on L.A. Law? That’s the ticket: an hour-long showcase (sitcoms are dying, kid) with class. May we suggest something that’s not on TV right now: a grown-up Western in which you would play a strong, unsentimental frontier woman (i.e., not a Dr. Quinn weeper). There’ve been lots of recent books on the subject: Pick one and develop it. Sure, it sounds outta left field, reviving a moribund genre, but so did, in their times, Hill Street Blues and, well, L.A. Law.

Sammo Hung

Sam, baby, you’ve shown almost Buddha-like patience in your quest to become as big an action star in America as you are in Hong Kong. But first CBS saddled you with Louis Mandylor and now with the new, hip-cop version of Arsenio Hall. Time to bend Arsenio’s skinny frame into a pretzel and toss him out, leaving you free to do an action show that, with improved writing, could transform you into a politically correct Charlie Chan — TV’s first real Asian sleuth. Sounds kicky, doesn’t it?

Yasmine Bleeth

Settling for being the TV squeeze of Don Johnson on Nash Bridges and a perpetual NBC Sunday Night Movie victim is not what we expected of you, young lady. You’ve proven, post-Baywatch, to be a delightful, smart, and funny guest on talk shows — why not parlay that comedic instinct into a sitcom deal? Unlike Brooke Shields, you actually seem to know where the punchline is in a joke.

Wallace Langham

Time to emerge from Veronica’s Closet, Wally. It’s a well-deserved money gig after your heroically good turn as a weaselly writer on the great Larry Sanders Show, but now you need your own comedy vehicle. You must still be in touch with some Sanders writers; can’t you cook up a cool variation on the family sitcom, such as an update of The Dick Van Dyke Show? Transform your Sanders comedy-scribe character into a harried, commuting family man, working for…a New York-based sitcom.

Calista Flockhart

It’s clear that Ally McBeal, while springboarding you to pop-cultural-icon status, has become so loony as to render you irrelevant — sort of like a Bugs Bunny cartoon being pecked to death by Daffy Duck. And the half-hour Allys are leading to overexposure. Our Rx: Get off the tube for a while, do more of the kind of theater work that’s won you raves over the past year, and then come back in a straightforward drama, one about a wife and mother who — get this for originality — has a good marriage but who wants and needs, like millions of women across the country, to rejoin the workforce after years of noble homemaking. It could be the thinking woman’s Providence. Trust us, Cal.

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