Evaluating Entertainment Weekly’s 1993 Star Watch Picks

Sometimes, it pays to be a pack rat.  And a slow reader.
While going through the December 24th, 1993 issue of Entertainment Weekly, I found an interesting little article on page 23.  At the end of the Jason Patric cover story (“Why Isn’t Jason Patric A Star Yet?”) is a short sidebar called “Star Watch”.  Six upcoming actors – three men, three women – are singled out for future stardom by a talent manager and an agent.  Although none of them were complete unknowns at the time, they weren’t household names, either.  According to the article, which was written by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, “these six highly praised rising stars have yet to have a hit movie on their own.  But give them five years…and the troupe could be among Hollywood’s most wanted.”
Were the experts right?  Let’s go through the names one by one:
Julianne Moore
This beautiful redhead got her start in the theatre in the early 1980s before landing soap opera gigs on The Edge Of Night and As The World Turns.  As the decade ended, the North Carolina native moved from serials to TV movies.  By the start of the 1990s, she continued getting boob tube gigs while progressing to roles in theatrical features.  Her first memorable movie role was Annabella Sciorra’s skeptical sister in the surprise 1992 hit, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle.  By 1993, Moore was one busy actress appearing in four films.  Besides playing Aidan Quinn’s love interest in Benny & Joon and being naked in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, she was one of Madonna’s victims in Body Of Evidence and a doctor who comes in contact with Harrison Ford in The Fugitive.
In the Star Watch article, a talent manager predicted, “She’ll win an Academy Award someday.”  To date, she’s been nominated four times, twice in the Best Supporting Actress category (Boogie Nights and The Hours) and twice in the Best Actress category (The End Of The Affair and Far From Heaven).  Two of those nods came in the same year (Hours and Heaven).  Now 47, but looking far younger, there’s plenty of time for her to snatch the big prize.
At any event, Moore’s breakthrough movie was a disappointing romantic comedy that may or may not have gotten an unintentional boost from co-star Hugh Grant’s infamous sex scandal.  (Two words:  Divine Brown.)  Released in the summer of 1995, a year and a half after being singled out for stardom, it made 69 million and paved the way for blockbusters like The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Hannibal.
Chalk one up for Entertainment Weekly.  They were right about Julianne Moore.
Tony Goldwyn
He’s that rare actor who’s managed to have a long career after being killed on-screen by Jason Voorhees.  (He gets offed in the sixth Friday The 13th monstrosity.)  Still best known for being the baddie in Ghost, he’s been jumping from the movies to TV and back ever since.  Despite being in big films like The Pelican Brief, Nixon, the animated Tarzan (he voices the title role) and The Last Samurai, superstardom has eluded him.  Since 2001, he’s started working behind the camera.  Besides helming the lousy romantic comedy, Someone Like You, with Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman, he’s directed episodes of Law & Order, Without A Trace, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Dexter and Dirty Sexy Money.  Speaking of Law & Order, he appeared a couple of times on Criminal Intent this season.
Despite being compared to “a young, brooding Gary Cooper” by a Hollywood agent in the Star Watch article, he’s nowhere near as famous as the High Noon star.
One for two, EW.
Mary-Louise Parker
This foxy MILF sweetly tempted Kevin Kline in Grand Canyon and Mary Stuart Masterson in Fried Green Tomatoes, both released in late 1991 and worth seeing.  In a rather insulting manner, however, in EW’s Star Watch article, her dazzling looks are summed up thusly:
“Although she’s not a classic beauty, ‘she’s redefining Hollywood’s leading woman,’ says [talent manager Brian] Swardstorm.”
She was hot, then, and she’s even hotter today.  Even Stevie Wonder would agree.
But what about the article’s prediction?  After co-starring with Matt Dillon in the awful 1993 flop, Mr. Wonderful, Parker played Brad Renfro’s mother in The Client, a big hit in the summer of 1994.  Unfortunately, Renfro, Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon (who received an Oscar nomination for her performance) got all the attention.  In the entertaining Boys On The Side, which featured a young Matthew McConaughey, Parker joined Whoopi Goldberg and Drew Barrymore for a road trip.  Unfortunately, the film was a modest grosser.
Seven years later, she had a small role in the disappointing Red Dragon.  Ever since, she’s had far greater success on episodic Television.  After appearing in the critically acclaimed and highly decorated 2003 miniseries, Angels In America (based on the two-part Tony Kushner play), which earned her Emmy and SAG nominations, she appeared on numerous editions of The West Wing and later landed the lead in Weeds, about a surburban mom who sells pot.
One for three.
Campbell Scott
He’s been in great films (Dead Again), good films (Singles, Big Night) and boring crap (The Sheltering Sky).  Regardless, the son of George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst has been working steadily for over 20 years.  By the end of 1993, he was best known for playing a guy with leukemia in Dying Young.  (Julia Roberts played his caregiver.)  In the EW article, an agent declared him “one of the best actors working.  There’s no doubt in my mind he can go the distance.”
Since then, though, he’s mostly stuck with independent features.  There was Mrs. Parker And The Vicious Circle (with Jennfer Jason Leigh as Dorothy Parker), The Spanish Prisoner (with Steve Martin and Ed O’Neill), The Imposters (with Stanley Tucci), and the Canadian feature, Saint Ralph (with Jennifer Tilly).  He also received great notices for his performance in Roger Dodger.
Although, he has popped up in mainstream flicks like The Exorcism Of Emily Rose and Music & Lyrics, he hasn’t become a big star.  One suspects that’s not an accident.
One for four.
Fairuza Balk
This former child actor appeared in Valmont and Gas Food Lodging before landing on EW’s 1993 Star Watch list.  A few years later, she was one of the witchy babes in The Craft, a modest hit in the spring of 1996.  In the summer that year, she had a memorable supporting turn in the otherwise laughable disaster, The Island Of Dr. Moreau.  That was followed by the acclaimed American History X and the awful Adam Sandler comedy, The Waterboy.
In 2000, she was one of the groupies in the wonderful Almost Famous.  But by far, her best performance can be seen in Rebecca Miller’s Personal Velocity, a criminally overlooked gem from 2002.  Really three short films in one, Balk plays a pregnant woman, in a difficult relationship with a homeless black man, who tries to help a deeply troubled teenage runaway in the last segment.  There’s a devastating hotel scene and a surprise ending that is remarkably moving.  With a brisk running time of 86 minutes, it is highly recommended.  Kyra Sedgwick and Parker Posey appear in the other stories.
Like most of the names singled out in the Star Watch article, despite being a very good actor, not unfamous and routinely hired for movies, she’s not a star.  After seeing her in Personal Velocity, I find that disappointing.
One for five.
Dermot Mulroney
“It’s a movie or two away for him.”
That’s what a talent manager told Entertainment Weekly about this Virginia native’s chances for movie stardom back in 1993.  After making his film debut in Young Guns (following several years of TV movies and series guest shots), he kept working in picture after picture.  He appeared in Longtime Companion with Campbell Scott.  Along with his brother, Kieran (a narrator for a number of E! True Hollywood Stories and the guy that catches George Costanza double dipping a potato chip on an episode of Seinfeld), they played inept burglars easily outsmarted by Frank Whaley and a very curvy Jennifer Connelly in Career Opportunities.  After appearances in Point Of No Return (a dreadful remake of the French film, Nikita) and The Thing Called Love (the trained cellist contributed a song and performed on a number of other numbers on the soundtrack), big things were expected for him.
While he did, in fact, become a movie star, it took four more years and ten more films to make it a reality.  Before making the massive hit, My Best Friend’s Wedding, with Julia Roberts, he made appearances in films like Bad Girls, Angels In The Outfield, Living In Oblivion, Copycat, How To Make An American Quilt, Kansas City (directed by Robert Altman) and The Trigger Effect.  Angels was the biggest moneymaker (50 million) but Mulroney only had a small role.
Since then, he’s continued to find work on screens both big and small.  He popped up on a few episodes of Friends, co-starred with Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates in the Oscar-nominated About Schmidt, and starred in the modest-grossing romantic comedies, Must Love Dogs and The Wedding Date.  This year, he acted in Zodiac and the Lindsay Lohan/Jane Fonda drama, Georgia Rule.  He’ll be back in a couple of new films in 2008.
Two for six.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 10, 2007
11:54 p.m.
Published in: on December 10, 2007 at 11:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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