BACK DURING Virginia Madsen's first stint on the A-list, when she was an in-demand young starlet, a script crossed her desk called "Long Gone," a movie about minor league baseball in the Jim Crow South. She loved the story, loved her potential role as a groupie with brains and sex appeal -- basically, the Susan Sarandon character from "Bull Durham," but a year earlier. It was a great part, one of the best she would ever play -- and everyone she knew was telling her not to do it.
Why? Because "Long Gone" was being produced for HBO, which in 1987 was the acting equivalent of being sent to the low minors.
"(It) was thought to have been a huge mistake, a huge step down to go for that cable channel," Madsen says now. "I loved the story, but it did some damage to my career."
Jump ahead a couple of decades, and her Oscar nomination for "Sideways" has Madsen back on the A-list again, getting significant movie offers again. And yet here she is doing TV again, playing Ray Liotta's wife on CBS' upcoming heist drama "Smith."
To read the rest of the column, click here.
And speaking of celebrity crossovers, I did my professional duty and watched about 15 minutes of "Celebrity Duets" before switching over to "Rock Star." All I saw were two of the people with musical theater experience (Lucy Lawless and Alfonso Ribeiro) sounding fine and the Olympic gymnast, not surprisingly, not. Unless it turns into a "Dancing with the Stars"-level ratings phenom, I don't think I need to come back. Anybody else watch?