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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friends Family Tree

Anyone who knows me well knows that my love of television was first formed by my obsession with "Friends". As I've grown older, and my cable channels have increased, so has my appreciation for a variety of shows. Still, since "Friends" is my first true love I have to admit that even I'm surprised that it's not getting mentioned until my third post.

"Friends" is an interesting show to approach from a family tree angle (aka the "they were on that show then they made it big on 'their' show" angle). It's mainly difficult because although "Friends" ran for ten seasons, and had tons of guest actors, most of them were already famous and just wanted to be a part of the cultural phenomenon.

Here's a couple of people who really did jump start their careers by being on "Friends":

Aisha Tyler~

Sure, she's well known now, but it was really "Friends" that was her big break. She played Joey and Ross' girlfriend Charlie in 9 episodes of the hit show. She then went on to appear in 12 episodes of "CSI" (2004-2005) and 23 episodes of "Ghost Whisperer" (2005-2006).

George Newbern~

He had successful parts before "Friends" (mainly because he played Dr. Scott Frank on a season of "Chicago Hope", 1997-1998). Still, it wasn't until after his role as Rachel's boyfriend Danny on
"Friends" (1998) that he became a series regular in "Bull" (2000) and "Providence" (2002). And, to relate back to last week, what else did he later appear in repeatedly? "Nip/Tuck" (2010).

Friday, February 25, 2011

ER Family Tree

Well, this ties in nicely with yesterday's post about "Ally McBeal". After all, Lisa Nicole Carson played a main supporting character on "Ally McBeal" (1997-2002) and a regular guest star on "ER" (1996-2001). Did you notice the fact that her roles even overlapped? Pretty impressive.

Interestingly enough, Lucy Liu, who played Ling Woo on "Ally McBeal" (1998-2002), also acted in three episodes of "ER" (as Mei-Sun Leow, 1995).

Considering how wildly successful "ER" was, and how many years it ran for (FIFTEEN season!), is it really surprising that many actors came through its doors who later claimed success in other shows?

Lets look at some of the smallest supporting characters who later "made it big":

Dakota Fanning~
Opps, I forgot that she was ALSO in "Ally McBeal". Seriously, was everyone in that show? One of Fanning's earliest roles was playing the five year old version of Ally. But, we can't forget that before that her first ever role was as Delia Chadsey in an episode of "ER" (2000). And did Dakota Fanning make it big? Do you even need to ask? IMDB it.

Lake Bell~

Her role as Judy Holmes on "ER" was only her second role ever (and her first on television). She played the character in two episodes (2002). She later went on to appear multiple times in..."The Practice" (2004)...seriously, David E. Kelley? Anyway, she's had great success since "ER", especially in her role as a series regular on "Boston Legal". Seriously?*
*For those of you who don't know, David E. Kelley is the creator of "Ally McBeal", "The Practice", and its spin-off, "Boston Legal"

Ntare Mwine~

"ER" wasn't his first role, but it certainly didn't hurt. He appeared in two episodes (2002, 2008). And it wasn't until after his 2002 part that he was cast as Usutu, a recurring character on "Heroes" (2006-2009). How's that for some "ER" magic?

Oh, and before I forget...Maffia, who I mentioned last week (she was a guest actor on "Ally McBeal" who later starred in "Nip/Tuck"), was also on "ER".

Obviously after the last post I was feeling badly about the lack of women in the family you know any men (or women) who really should have been included?

All images are courtesy of

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Ally McBeal Family Tree

I never watched "Ally McBeal" when it was on air, and instead stumbled across it in a semi-depressed state after the cancellation of "Better Off Ted".

After getting through the first couple of seasons, I realized that it was a melting pot of guest actors who later went on to success as supporting characters and leads on hit shows.

The Ally McBeal Family Tree:

Michael Weatherly~

Okay, to be honest, he was a series regular on "Significant Others" (1998), but considering that the show was canceled after the first season, I've decided that it doesn't count as a true success. Weatherly guest starred on "Ally McBeal" for one episode ('Sex, Lies, and Second Thoughts', 2000). What's he doing now? He's a lead on the hit series "NCIS".

Tate Donovan~

Again, he did have a role as a series regular before guest starring on "Ally McBeal"...he was on "Partners", also canceled after one season (1996). After his role on "Ally McBeal" (3 episodes as Ronald Cheanie, 1997), he went on to be a guest star on "Friends", and main characters in both "The O.C." and "Damages".

Michael Vartan~

He really wasn't a series regular until after he played Jonathan Bassett on "Ally McBeal". He then went on to star in "Alias" (with Donovan's "Partners" cast member Jennifer Garner) and "Hawthorne".

John Ritter~

This was almost a freebie for me because, lets be honest, John Ritter was a guest actor in almost every successful show from 1972 until his death in 2003. And he was a series regular/leading man long before his guest role as George Madison in "Ally McBeal". Still the show certainly did nothing to hurt his reputation, so I think his inclusion in the family tree is warranted.

Roma Maffia~
Finally, a woman! Roma Maffia was a guest actor on "Ally McBeal" ('Fear of Flirting', 2001). She later became one of the lead characters on the successful "Nip/Tuck". I really left the best for last, because Maffia makes the circle complete. She guest starred on "Ally McBeal" during the show's fifth season when one of its leads was Portia de Rossi. De Rossi then guest starred during the fifth season of "Nip/Tuck". How's that for symmetry?

Can you think of any other guest actors on "Ally McBeal" who later made it big?

Images courtesy of:,,, Hollywood Reporter, & BuddyTV.