Five Stars Who Should Get the TNT Career-Revival Treatment

We learned today that ol' Betty Lou herself Penelope Ann Miller has been cast in a new TNT series. She'll play the long-suffering ex-wife of middle-aged sadsack Ray Romano in Men of a Certain Age. The show also stars other '90s also-rans like Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher.

TNT just really seems to like to take quantum leaps back into the '90s (and the '80s, to some extent) and rescue actors who were either big-time or almost-big-time back then, given them TV shows, and hopefully make them stars again. You know, people like Kyra Sedgwick, Jada Pinkett, Timothy Hutton, and Mark-Paul Gosslear. Basically TNT is the Quentin Tarantino of television. So who should get the revival treatment next? We have five ideas.

Mary Stuart Masterson

So big around the time of Fried Green Tomatoes, Benny & Joon, and Bed of Roses, Masterson hasn't fared as well here in the aughts. She's appeared in a couple of failed shows and popped up as crazy Eliot Stabler's shrink on Law & Order: SVU. We like her on that, so maybe TNT could blow her up in some sort of investigative psychiatrist crime drama. TNT basically only does medical dramas and crime shows, so this would be the best of both worlds! "Mary Stuart Masterson in... Mind Over Matter." Or, "Mary Stuart Masterson stars as... Cassandra." Or something punny. Maybe "Mary Stuart Masterson in... Head Trauma."

Nancy Travis

Travis used to be huge for five seconds in the early-mid '90s. She was in So I Married an Axe Murderer, Greedy, and 34 episodes of something called Almost Perfect. For a second there, her career was, um, almost perfect. And then she disappeared. Now she's on that Bill Engvall thing, but let's be honest, that's not a real TV show. So why doesn't TNT bring her back as a harried and tough (with a secretly gooey interior!) TV news producer in Stationed. Or as a no-nonsense congresswoman who's also a single mother of three rowdy teens in Over the Hill (see, it's like Capitol Hill, but also she's old.) Or Queen of the Hill. Something with the Hill. Maybe just: The Hill.

Jonathan Silverman

Sure he was annoying in Weekend at Bernie's and The Single Guy was... unfortunate, but Silverman could still merit a bazillionth chance at a career. Who wouldn't watch Silverman as a snarky-but-lovable gambling whiz in Cards? (Don't answer that.) You know, he's from a nice wealthy Jewish family (complete with comically overbearing mother) in Westchester, and yet!, there's also gambling! C'mon, TNT. Tovah Feldshuh needs a summer house. Do it for Tovah. Silverman could also play the lead in a dramedy about a regular guy who just happens to have an innate talent for complicated surgery in The Brains of the Operation.

Mira Sorvino

Poor Mira has that classic story. You know, where you come out of nowhere and win a supporting actor Oscar and then nothing really comes of it at all. She's done some stuff since Mighty Aphrodite, sure, but nothing too grand. So she seems perfect for the TNT makeover experience. She could play Secret Servicewoman Maxie Brayton in Protected. What about New Orleans bail bondswoman Claree Robicheaux in The Retriever? Or, you know, she could do something where she doesn't carry a gun. Like playing a fiercely dedicated foster mother named Annabelle Dalton in Raise the Roof. Or inspiring inner-city teacher C.C. Monroe in Teaching Moments. You know. Something like that.

Cuba Gooding Jr.

Obviously we can't mention '90s flame-outs who won Oscars and omit the granddaddy of them all, Mr. Cuba. Guys, Jerry Maguire was a long time ago. Cuba's got that kind of tough-but-cuddly thing going on that TNT seems to really like to traffic in, so he ought to be a hit. Would you watch him as Det. Mike O'Rourke, an African-American cop who was adopted into an Irish family living in South Boston? His childhood made him tough, his job's made him tougher. Or what about Lt. Governor Sam Tremaine, who suddenly becomes the actual governor of a well-populated Northeastern state when his running mate dies or goes missing or something. It's one of those mystery shows. Plus it's about politics and stuff. The West Wing meets Lost. And in the era of Mark Sanford and David Patterson, it's topical as well! If neither of those float your boat, how about Cuba Gooding Jr. as Lars Jackson, a crime scene "fixer" who helps out the crooks one minute, but then gets them nabbed by the police the next. He's a vigilante who's hellbent on avenging his murdered wife, but he also doesn't trust the police to do their job and get their man. So he works both sides of the case. He's full of contradictions! Plus: guns! All of which equal Drama.

So those are my ideas. They are silly. But they could also happen. TNT basically does shows about fast-paced jobs. That's pretty much it. The equation is: Once-Was Star X + Exciting Job Y + Frenzy + Punny Title = TNT Show. It's that simple. Now you guys try!

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