TV’s 8 Biggest Show-Killers

The stars with low batting averages — but who keep getting work

Last Updated: June 9, 2010 @ 2:47 PM
Alex O’Loughlin seemingly has it all. He’s handsome, talented and he’s starring in CBS’ highly anticipated fall reboot of "Hawaii Five-O."
Yet O’Loughlin bears a dubious nickname — that of show-killer.
Among the shows he’s headlined are vampire drama "Moonlight" and medical show "Three Rivers," both of which debuted with high expectations on CBS but were pulled due to low viewership. 

Which begs the question, why will the third time be the charm?

"Shows make actors, actors don’t make shows," Steve Sternberg, longtime television research analyst at media buying agency Magna, told TheWrap. "’Moonlight’ failing was not his fault. It was a well-done show, but the premise [about vampires] was too narrow to draw the broad audience necessary to keep it on broadcast television. ‘Three Rivers’ was just not that good a show. But he’s a likable actor, and ‘Hawaii Five-O’ will have broader audience appeal."

True, such television legends as Jennifer Aniston, Simon Baker, Jon Cryer and, perhaps most famously, George Clooney — five failed series before "ER" — all chalked up a lot of misses before their monster hits. That’s the exception to the rule, though. 

"After it happens once or twice, you start saying, ‘I don’t understand why they keep putting this person on my TV? I didn’t like this the first time, but they’re serving the same meal," Richard Lawson, an entertainment reporter for Gawker, told TheWrap.

Nobody is buying what he’s selling yet, but O’Loughlin can rest assured that he’s in good company. There’s a long list of stars who have been given second — and third, and fourth — chances despite having checkered track records with audiences. Here are a few:

Alex O’Loughlin
Victims:
 "Moonlight" (2007-08), "Three Rivers"(2009-10)
Upcoming: CBS’ "Hawaii Five-O"
Track record: Someone at CBS must really like the "Hawaii-Five O" star. Why else would the network take another chance on him after his two previous shows lasted less than a season? He also did a stint on FX’s "The Shield" that seemed to end rather abruptly, presumably so he could begin work on "Moonlight." We should mention his latest effort — last month’s underwhelming big-screen effort "The Back-Up Plan," with Jennifer Lopez. It was produced by, you guessed it, CBS Films. 

Lindsay Price

Victims: "Coupling" (2003), "Lipstick Jungle" (2008), "Eastwick" (2009)
Upcoming: Nothing announced
Track record: The raven-haired beauty had some success guest-starring on "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Becker," but add her to the opening credits and kiss the show goodbye. Price headlined "Coupling," "Lipstick Jungle" and, most recently, "Eastwick," all to limp ratings. ABC apparently took a pass on her recent comedy pilot "Who Gets the Parents," perhaps fearful that the fourth time wouldn’t break the curse.

Mark Feuerstein
Victims
:  "Fired Up" (1997-98), "Conrad Bloom" (1998), "The Heart Department" (2001), "Good Morning Miami" (2002-04), "3 lbs.," (2006),"The Hustler" (2009)
Current: USA’s "Royal Pains" 
Track record: Finally, some success. After being dubbed "sitcom kryptonite" for starring in six failed shows, Feuerstein has cast off his baggage. His USA medical drama just returned for its second season, to great ratings. Here’s to seventh chances!

Rena Sofer: 
Victims:
 "Just Shoot Me" (2003-03), "The Chronicle" (2001-02), "Coupling" (2003), "Blind Justice" (2005)
Current: Recurring role on "NCIS" and "Bones," Lifetime TV movie "The Devil’s Teardrop"
Track record: The bodies buried in Sofer’s basement begin to stack up after a critically reviled stint on "Just Shoot Me." Like Price, Sofer struck out with NBC’s sexually charged and widely promoted "Coupling," and not even Steven Bochco’s pedigree could save ABC’s cop drama "Blind Justice." She’s been quietly trying to shake off the failure fatigue with recurring parts on two hit series, but given her past, could the reaper soon call on those two long-running shows?

Christopher Titus
Victims:
 "Titus" (2000-02), "Big Shots"(2007-08)
Upcoming: Untitled Fox sitcom
Track record: The caustic stand-up comedian scored a critical success with his Fox sitcom "Titus," even though audiences didn’t show up for most of its two-year run. (Individuals close to Titus insist the series was pulled more because of clashes with Fox president Gail Berman than because of audience response.) More recently, 2007’s "Big Shots" came and went on ABC in a flash. That hasn’t soured networks on the talented funnyman, though. Fox just received a script order for a new show that will, like "Titus," be based on his colorful life.

Mark Valley 
Victims: "Pasadena" (2001-02), "Keen Eddie" (2003-04), "Emily’s Reasons Why Not" (2006), "Swing Town" (2008)
Current: Fox’s "Human Target"
Track record: Stuffed between bombs was a long-running stint as a square-jawed lawyer on ABC’s "Boston Legal," but it is undeniable that Valley has racked up an impressive number of duds. "Human Target" got a reprieve when Fox ordered a second season, but the action drama has struggled in the ratings. If it continues to underperform, Valley may have found his latest victim.

David Alan Grier 
Victims: "The Preston Episodes" (1995), "Damon" (1998), "DAG" (2000-01),  ‘Life With Bonnie" (2002-04), "Thank God You’re Here" (2007), "Chocolate News" (2008)
Upcoming: Sticking to movies with "Something Like a Business" and "Hoodwinked Too!"
Track record: Boy, "In Loving Color" seems like a long, long time ago. Grier has wisely steered clear of television since his Comedy Central series "Chocolate News" crashed and burned after 10 episodes in 2008. Before that, Grier swung and missed an awful lot. Critically praised "Life With Bonnie" hung on for two seasons, despite low ratings, but "Damon," "DAG" and "Thank God You’re Here" didn’t even last a year. 

Bonnie Hunt
Victims: "Grand" (1990), "Davis Rules" (1991-92), "The Building" (1993), "The Bonnie Hunt Show" (1995-96), "Life With Bonnie" (2002-04)
Upcoming: Nothing. Eponymous daytime talk show filmed its last episode at the end of May.
Track record: Giving hope to show-killers everywhere, after more than 200 episodes, Hunt just finished up a successful stint as host of talk show "The Bonnie Hunt Show." But in sitcom form, a show bearing the same name lasted a mere 12 episodes in the early ’90s. Another sitcom "The Building," was critically acclaimed for its kooky decision to film live, but audiences steered clear. They also failed to come around for Hunt’s "Life With Bonnie," "Grand" and "Davis Rules."