Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

TV Stars Switch Gears during Summer Vacation

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

TV Stars Switch Gears during Summer Vacation

Article excerpt

IT MAY seem strange that Frasier's brother, Niles, and First Officer Chakotay of the Starship Voyager are spending their summer vacations with defense lawyer Wambaugh and prosecutor McCoy.

But as it turns out, David Hyde Pierce of "Frasier," Robert Beltran of "Star Trek: Voyager," Fyvush Finkel of "Picket Fences" and Sam Waterston of "Law & Order" are all working together this summer. They've got parts in Oliver Stone's next big movie, "Nixon," in which Anthony Hopkins is ditching his British accent to play the late president.

That's standard procedure for TV stars, who often sacrifice their vacation time to take parts in a feature film or two, in hopes they'll make some big money, enhance their marquee value and maybe even qualify as genuine movie stars.

For example, Kelsey Grammer, who's Pierce's brother Frasier in the hit NBC series, is playing his first leading role in a big-screen feature film this summer: a comedy called "Down Periscope." John Mahoney, who plays the senior Crane on "Frasier," is spending his summer in Richard Gere's latest feature, a thriller called "Primal Fear," which is the first movie from producer/director Gregory Hoblit since he left ABC's "NYPD Blue" to make movies.

It's even fairly common for stars from different shows to wind up working on the same movie, like the four actors in "Nixon." Steven Weber, who's Brian on NBC's "Wings," and Peter MacNicol, who plays hospital lawyer Alan Birch on CBS's "Chicago Hope," are both summering in Mel Brooks' comedy, "Dracula: Dead and Loving It."

If you're worried about some favorite stars whose shows were canceled, you may be relieved to know that many went right into movies this summer, where they're probably earning better wages. For instance, two of my favorites are playing key roles in features: Claire Danes, who was Angela on ABC's "My So-Called Life," is co-starring with Jeanne Moreau in "I Love You, I Love You Not," and Karen Sillas, who was Detective Phillips on CBS's "Under Suspicion," is among several female stars working in a film called "Female Perversions."

And should you be sweating the fate of the Olsen twins since ABC ash-canned "Full House," you will be happy to learn that Mary-Kate and Ashley, who shared the role of Michelle, are making their feature film debut in "Me and My Shadow," co-starring with Steve Guttenberg and Kirstie Alley. …

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