Glenn Close is a movie star.

She's been nominated for five Oscars, and she has two very different iconic movie characters with which she will forever be identified — the unhinged Alex Forrest in "Fatal Attraction" and the over-the-top Cruella de Vil in "101 Dalmatians" (and its sequel).

And if she does indeed repeat her Tony-winning role as Norma Desmond in the rumored "Sunset Blvd." movie (adapted from the Broadway musical that was based on a classic movie!), she may have a third iconic character. (Although at the moment, that one still belongs to Gloria Swanson.)

Close also co-starred in "The Big Chill" and "Jagged Edge" and "The Natural" and "Dangerous Liaisons" and "Air Force One." Not to mention the acclaim earned by TV movies (eight Emmy nominations, one win) and Broadway (three Tonys).

So, it's fair to ask, why would Glenn Close want to do a TV series? (See related story link.)

Easy answer? She's 60.

How about Holly Hunter? Four Oscar nominations, one win. Not to mention TV movies (five Emmy nominations, two wins), Broadway.

So why is Hunter also doing a series? (TNT's "Saving Grace.")

Easy answer? She's 49.

And, sad to say, we all know that Hollywood is quite unforgiving of age, especially in women.

So is this a trend — Oscar-winners doing TV series? Maybe.

Ask Close or Hunter why, and they'll say the better writing is on TV, not movies. Which may be true.

But it wasn't always the case. Once upon a time, theatrical films were the big dog.

Movies were the Porsche to TV's Volkswagen. And before that, to radio's Model T.

In the 1930s and '40s, radio stars couldn't wait to make movies. Jack Benny, Burns & Allen, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy — you name them. These folks had earned stardom the hard way, by coming into the homes of their radio audiences week after week.

But despite their success in the audio medium, most of them made repeated stabs at movie stardom, with varying degrees of success.

In the 1950s and '60s, the same thing went for TV stars. Many made the leap to the big screen, hoping to repeat their TV success in films — Jackie Gleason, James Garner, Dick Van Dyke, etc.

On the other hand, it's also always been true that big movie stars have always stepped down from the big screen. Humphrey Bogart, Myrna Loy, James Stewart, Cary Grant — most of the '30s and '40s superstars did radio adaptations of movies and plays and guested on comedy shows.

When TV took over, these same stars did TV dramas and guest shots — as did up-and-comers who hadn't quite achieved movie stardom yet, such as Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Robert Redford, Grace Kelly, Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, etc.

And with the modern advent of DVDs, you can see many of these folks in their TV appearances, when they were young and hungry — Redford on "The Twilight Zone," Newman on "Tales of Tomorrow," etc.

Or how about aging Humphrey Bogart, hilariously spoofing his big-screen tough-guy persona on an old "Jack Benny Program"? (Also on DVD.)

Even movie stars tackling TV series late in their careers isn't all that unusual.

James Stewart and Henry Fonda both had TV series. Oscar-winners Ernest Borgnine and Shirley Boothe had great success with their respective sitcoms "McHale's Navy" and "Hazel."

Although it wasn't really all that late in Borgnine's career — since, at age 90, he's still working today.

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Which should give heart to Close and Hunter fans.

Even after a successful (or unsuccessful) TV run, movies will still be around.

The question is, will they be as good as the TV shows?


E-mail: hicks@desnews.com

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