Thursday, August 7, 2008

Who I'll Be Watching This Year...

Amanda Righetti has played the bombshell beauty in quite a few style-over-substance programs in television seasons past (The O.C., North Shore, Reunion), but this fall she is finally allowed to smarten—and button—up in CBS’ The Mentalist, where she will star as an FBI agent alongside Simon Baker. Righetti is just one of the many fresh faces gracing the small screen this fall in my Spotlight on TV Stars.

Tristan Wilds, on the other hand, gets to show off his lighter side after dramatic turns in Half Nelson and The Wire with his role as Dixon Mills, a boy adopted into a privileged family who moves back to Southern California to attend West Beverly Hills High in The CW’s new 90210. Wilds has already proven he has the acting chops, but now he’ll catch the eye of new fans for a different reason: his soap star good looks, and the combination ensures he will stand heads above the rest of his class.

Brian Hallisay, too, turned heads in dramatic roles such as Without A Trace, Cold Case, and Strong Medicine, but now he is trading in his sinister scruff and serious face for open-buttoned polo shirts and gel-coiffed hair as Will Philips, the wealthy bachelor neighbor on The CW’s upcoming Privileged. Introduced as a love interest for JoAnna Garcia’s character, with his all-American model good looks and charming smile, Hallisay will undoubtedly have to fight off the two teenagers she is hired to tutor, as well. He’s definitely the eye candy to rope in the female audience, as even if the show's somewhat surreal world is too over-the-top for them, this boy-next-door will keep everything grounded... and of course, interesting, to say the least. This is a guy I've wanted to cast since I first saw him as a con man on a CBS procedural. I didn't catch his name in the front-end credits, but I knew I needed to know more. The next week, though, ironically he was back on yet another CBS procedural-- this time as a gay cop in an era that homosexuality was unaccepted, to say the least-- and this time I IMDbed him and began tracking his success through various other appearances in television cop dramas. It may sound shallow, but I'm glad to see him step out of such a niche area of entertainment and finally be seen as I saw him that very first night: as a heartthrob.

You may remember Lucy Hale as the virgin Katie Scherbatsky on How I Met Your Mother or the virginal Miranda on the Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place, but starting in September she will join Hallisay in Privileged, portraying a slightly less good girl as one half of the spoiled socialite sister team on The CW serialized drama. Hale’s performance as Rose Baker is definitely the more in depth of the two, as her character may be an on-the-surface partier, but she very quickly points out that she wants more out of life, and Hale, in turn, very quickly shows there is much more to her as an actress than meets the eye.

And that could really be the theme for the new group of talent taking over airwaves this year: they are not one-note, one-trick ponies; they have a lot of tricks and techniques up their sleeves, and if given the chance (ie: if their respective shows don’t get pulled after only one or two episodes), they have the capacity to become heavyweights. It is no coincidence that everyone highlighted here is a young actor or actress; nor is it a coincidence that their shows are “young” shows, aimed at the tween-to-twenty-something demographic. After all, you have to hook them young so they’ll follow their favorite actors’ careers for many years and spanning many genres, mediums, and projects. It’s definitely what producers are banking on with the 2008-2009 lineup anyway!

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