The Ladies of Oscar on Network Television
Kathy Bates, Angelica Huston and Linda Hunt are three very talented actresses. All three are Academy Award winners. And, when Harry’s Law returns to network television on Sunday, March 11th, all three will be appearing in key roles in TV drama programs, perhaps the first time that such a confluence of talent has taken place.
Harry’s Law began life last season as a mid-season replacement program on NBC. Created by David E. Kelley, it stars Bates as Harriet (“Harry”) Korn, a successful patent attorney who lives and works in Cincinatti who just got fired from her job as well as going through another life-changing event. She is talked into setting up shop in a seedy neighborhood in what was once a ladies shoe store.
Along with her quirky assistant and another lawyer who has just left his job, she sets up a new practice, defending the downtrodden. The show has suffered from scheduling changes and has been revamped in some regards to be a more traditional legal drama now but it is still capable of entertaining. Bates gets plenty of opportunities to show off her considerable talents in this role, talents we’ve known about ever since she took home Oscar gold for her frightening portrayal of the diabolically evil Annie Wilkes in Misery.
Linda Hunt, isn’t the lead player in the CBS drama NCIS: Los Angeles, a spin-off of the very successful NCIS, but her role as Henrietta (“Hetty”) Lange, Director of the NCIS Special Projects office, based in Los Angeles. But her acting chops are front and center in almost every episode as she helps the special agents assigned to her office carry out the wide variety of missions one would expect agents of an agency that investigates crime involving the Navy and the Marine Corps in a city that has almost no presence of either military service.
She coddles, chides, advises and above all protects her charges with a fierce yet ladylike demeanor. Stealing most of the scenes she appears in, she’s definitely worth watching Tuesday evenings. Hunt has the distinction of being the first (and probably last) person to win an Oscar for portraying a member of the opposite gender in her performance in The Year of Living Dangerously.
Smash is a new show from NBC and whether or not it survives beyond the current season, it represents one of the most interesting ideas to make it into production for awhile. The show’s premise is that someone is planning to produce a Broadway musical on the life of Marilyn Monroe.
The woman behind the production is played by Anjelica Huston. Her “Eileen Rand” again is not the lead, but instead part of a very strong ensemble cast of creative people who is trying to bring Marilyn Monroe’s various adventures to life in song and dance on a Broadway stage.
The main conflict doesn’t involve Huston, it’s between the two actresses who both want to “be” Marilyn. But Eileen Rand is in a conflict of her own, as she’s mid-divorce and her ability to finance the production she very much wants to bring to the stage may fall short of her desires. Hutson, who won her Oscar for Prizzi’s Honor is evidently still much loved by the cameras and she shines even as the show itself may be fading from the screen.