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This story first appeared in the Sept. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Thirty years ago, everyone warned Glenn Close and Ted Danson against slumming it on the small screen. “I was told that if I did a TV movie, my film career would be over,” recalls Close, 65, of her first TV role — as the mother of a sexually abused teen opposite Danson in Something About Amelia, a controversial 1984 ABC film about incest.
“You just didn’t mix the two. Even as recently as 15 years ago, it wasn’t considered acceptable for a movie actor to do television.” Of course, the six-time Oscar nominee and Damages star has found success coexisting in both mediums throughout her nearly 40-year career.
With three Emmys in the bank (two for Damages and one for Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story, a 1995 NBC telefilm about a gay military officer’s involuntary discharge), Close is nominated again this year for playing ruthless attorney Patty Hewes on the DirecTV series.
“People said I was doing TV because my film career was at a zero,” says Close, laughing. “I was like: ‘No! I’m doing it because the material is fantastic.’ “
Danson, 64, who reunited with his longtime friend during a three-season arc on Damages, agrees that solid scripts are attracting serious star wattage to TV. “Films have become so costly to make and promote that studios are playing it a little safer with [sequels] and animated films and comic book stories,” says the comedy-drama crossover, who earned two Emmy statuettes for his portrayal of bartender Sam Malone on NBC’s juggernaut sitcom Cheers. (“I was nominated nine times before I won and got so used to being philosophical about it,” says Danson. “Winning is way more preferable.”)
Adds the actor, who after stints on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Bored to Death now stars as night-shift supervisor D.B. Russell on CBS’ CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: “Television has become more like film in terms of the stories you can tell, so that’s attracting some of the really great writers. Then everyone else tumbles in.”
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