The Berlin Wall was a thing of chicken wire and Kleenex compared with the barrier that once stood between film and television in America.
Unlike British actors, who moved easily between stage, television and film, American movie stars were essentially instructed not to bother with TV. Oh,
As recently as 10 years ago, when "Angels in America" sent
Now, of course, that divide, like the one in Berlin, is but a memory. Oscar-winning films such as
Martin Scorsese and
And it's not just HBO (which for years distanced itself from its own medium with that "It's not TV, it's HBO" tagline) or even cable. Kathy Bates lighted up
Though both "The Following" and "Hannibal" received wildly mixed reviews, and more important, no Emmy nominations, the trend shows no signs of slowing. This fall, some stars are returning to their roots —
The shift is fueled in part by simple employment issues. In case you hadn't heard, the film industry is having a tough time producing anything other than franchise fodder and Oscar bait, while high-production scripted television is busting out all over.
Actors will tell you they follow the stories, and it's past arguing that some of the best stories are being told on television. But actors and writers and directors, like most of population, also follow the love. And right now, audiences are in love with television. Truly, madly, deeply, and in ways difficult to sustain in film or the theater.
Episodic television is regularly deconstructed in a way once reserved for Shakespeare or the Romantic poets. Meanwhile, the people creating the shows we're all mad for are similarly lionized. TV stars are the new movie stars, so of course movie stars want a piece of the action.
At this point, it's difficult to imagine the trend reversing itself. The participation of good actors, directors, writers and cinematographers from the film world will only increase the quality and variety of television content. Filmmakers can only benefit from the growing artistic credibility of the stars it hires from television too.
And for viewers, who increasingly don't distinguish between big screen, small screen and smartphone screen, it's a win/win.
Even if the Brits did think of it first.