Renaissance Column

MARCH 1999 | VOL. 3, NO. 3



LAST | Ten Ten Movies of the Decade

ARCHIVES | Entertainment

Katie Holmes

Watch any episode of the WB's "Dawson's Creek" and an intense Joey Potter is guaranteed to shine brighter than the rest of these high school philosophers. Joey, easily the character with the most depth, takes over every scene she is in sometimes without even speaking - for Miss Potter, an angry glare or cautious smile go a long way.

Katie Holmes, arguably today's hottest young star, breathes life and reality into Joey with such remarkable skill that it is easy to forget that she is just two years removed from a girl whose bedroom sported posters of Leonardo DiCaprio and Dean Cain.

Kate Noelle Holmes, 20, started her acting career far from the bright lights of Hollywood and photo shoots for YM magazine. In high school in Toledo, Ohio she honed her acting abilities in plays such as "Damn Yankees" but never imagined how many doors would soon open for her. Sounding every bit like Joey Potter, Holmes described herself from high school to Rolling Stone as extremely shy and naive. The product of an all-girls high school, she compared meeting Scott Wolfe last year to having the cutest boy at a dance coming up to talk to you.

Holmes started down the road to stardom after attending a national modeling and talent convention in New York City where she met a talent manager who convinced her to go to Los Angeles. There she won a part in the critically acclaimed feature film "The Ice Storm", co-starring along side Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver and Elijah Woods. For her senior year of school she returned to Ohio and the small stages of a high school auditorium. She won the part of Joey Potter after mailing in an audition tape, then turning down the call back to star in the opening of her school's production of "Damn Yankees".

"Dawson's Creek" fans are certainly happy that the producers rescheduled the audition. And now that she's supplementing her television work with a couple of mainstream movies, everyone else should quickly understand what all the insider buzz has been about.

>> Dawson's Creek's Official Web Site


Selling the Drama


ER had its best episode of the season with the departure of George Clooney (Doug Ross) as a full time actor on the show. The question now is how does the show replace him. The good news for the writers and producers of ER is that the show has always been more about the chaos surrounding the actors, then the actors themselves. However, the actors are the eyes through which we view the difficulties and trauma. Clooney has always had a tremendous ability to humanize the patients, especially the children, while at the same time revealing bits and pieces of his own character. He is also the maverick of the show. Who is going to clash with Weaver and the rest of the ER staff with him gone? I still think ER remains the best drama on television, however they need to do a better job retaining other members of the ensemble, and replacing those that they lose.

If ER falls from its perch as best drama, ABC's the Practice is more than ready to assume the title. While the best thing about ER is the chaotic emergency room atmosphere, the best thing about the Practice is the actors themselves. This ensemble cast is television's best, and may prove to be one of its best ever. Camryn Manheim (Eleanor) deservedly won both last year's Emmy and this year's Golden Globe, Steve Harris (Eugene) is a standout (Where was his Golden Globe nomination?) and the rest of the cast all plays off each other very well, from managing partner Dylan McDermott (Bobby) down to the office secretary Marla Sokoloff (Lucy). However, despite the great cast, the Practice still lags in the ratings compared to Nielsen heavyweights ER and NYPD Blue. Much of this may have to do with the show's time slot movement in the past two years and its current Sunday night placement. Watch it this week, an hour is all it will take for you to be hooked.

Over on the WB some of my other favorite shows had a tremendous month in February. Felicity, while still struggling in the ratings, has brightened up with some funny episodes. If you did not laugh during the "sex" episode, you need your pulse checked. Felicity's trips to the health center for a condom demonstration and to the book store for some erotic books were priceless. And I can't remember a show in recent memory with so many quality bit characters. Sean (Greg Grunberg), Ben's roommate, gives us a new get-rich-quick product to laugh about every week; Javier (Ian Gomez), Felicity's outwardly homosexual boss at Dean & Deluca, always makes me laugh; and what money making scheme will Richard (Patrick Benedict), the guy on Noel's floor, come up with next. All of these characters add a much needed levity to the show. I mean, it is college, you should have at least a little fun.

Dawson's Creek has also been tremendous over the past month with the sorting out of the twists and turns in the Joey/Dawson relationship. I cannot say it often enough, Katie Holmes is the best young actress on television. Her facial expressions and the shoulder shrugs are always right on, and the tortured relationship between Joey and Dawson will keep me and many others tuned in every Wednesday. The music soundtrack is also perfect every week. The whole subplot about Jack (Kerr Smith) being gay seemed a little contrived at first, but in the end I bought it. Can someone tell me how 90210 continues to beat Dawson's Creek in the ratings week after week?.

Party of Five is still my sentimental favorite drama, since to me, it more than any other show convinced the networks that dramas about teenager and young adults could succeed without degenerating into a soap opera. Without Party of Five, there would be no Dawson's Creek or Felicity. Just take a look out on the Internet, Party of Five fans form the most loyal fan base and that is part of its success. Viewers really care about the characters and their relationships, and get emotional about plot decisions (Bailey's struggle with alcohol, Charlie's cancer). To me the show has had its ups and downs this season. At its heart, Party of Five is about the five Salinger's relationships with each other. This year there have been too many outsiders getting in the way and not enough interaction between the siblings. This may be a product of the characters getting older, but it does not help the show.

On a related note, Jennifer Love Hewitt, looks to be leaving just in time. She will have her own show on Fox next year, The Time of Your Life, which will have her Party of Five character, Sarah Reeves, searching for her real father in New York. She hasn't had a good storyline since she got back together with Bailey last year, and in recent weeks has barely had any dialogue other than a word or two during Bailey's monologues about Owen. The Sarah/Bailey relationship had always been my favorite part of the show, but the happy, fun Sarah has apparently been destroyed. Let's hope Hewitt can find it in her new show.

Attention sports fans, ESPN is counting down the top fifty greatest athletes of the Twentieth century with half-hour weekly episodes on each athlete. The show airs every Friday night at 10:30 p.m. and will run through the remainder of the year before revealing all of the athletes. My picks for the top five 5) Michael Jordan, 4) Jim Thorpe, 3) Wayne Gretzky, 2) Babe Ruth, 1) Muhammad Ali. Gretzky probably will not be above Jordan, but he should be. They are both the greatest players of all time in their respective sports, but while you can debate Jordan vs. Russell, Chamberlain etc. there is simply no debate with Gretzky. No athlete has statistically dominated his sport like Gretzky has, and he has played professionally for twenty years. Regardless, of who you think belongs in the top five, the series is mandatory viewing for all sports fans.

On the DVD front, it appears that Titanic will finally be released on DVD sometime this summer and there is early word that the Star Wars Trilogy may be released just in time for Christmas. Those discs should be incredible and should result in a dramatic surge in the purchase of DVD players.

Not to end on a low note, but this column wouldn't be complete without the mention of the recent death of Gene Siskel, better known as the other half of Siskel and Ebert. The two popular reviewers pioneered the use of the simple thumbs up or thumbs down approach to movies. While, Siskel was often tough on many movies, his reviews were always thoughtful and intelligent. Two thumbs up to a great, albeit too short, career and life.

SOAPBOX: Does Dawson's Creek live up to the hype?

ROB GALLO of Wethersfield, CT, is a staff writer and the movie guru of Renaissance Online Magazine.

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