From Sidekick To Star

A batch of Canadian network announcements today. CTV’s is the most ambitious, what with the new CBS procedural series, new episodes of Flashpoint (which may or may not wind up on CBS, since the network is being vague about its place on the schedule) and pickups of two comedy shows for 2010, both of which are from Corner Gas people: Hiccups was created by Brent Butt as a vehicle for his wife and Corner Gas co-star Nancy Robertson, while Dan For Mayor is a star vehicle for Fred Ewanuick, who played the dumb-as-a-post character of Hank on CG.

When a successful show ends its run, the supporting actors often get their own series, so it makes complete sense for CTV to develop shows for some of the CG actors. And despite all the talk of the Seinfeld curse and so on (though that’s no longer operative now that Julia Louis-Dreyfus has a successful show), supporting actors are sometimes safer bets for new series than the stars they supported. This isn’t to say that Brent Butt could never star in another show, or that it’s impossible to come up with a second successful starring vehicle a la Bob Newhart. Just that the supporting characters on a hit show aren’t quite as strongly associated with the show as the star was, yet they’re very familiar to the audience. So they have room to develop their personas further, but they also have recognition value. And that’s how you get, for example Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie: famous enough to carry a show, but not as “branded” by her previous show as James Gandolfini was. Of course that’s also how you get incredibly successful projects like The George Wendt Show, but nobody said this was an exact science.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.