It’s no lie: Meryl Streep has a TV past

TV Pipeline

Meryl Streep

Q: It’s good to see Meryl Streep in the new season of “Big Little Lies.” Has she done television before? – Heather McCoy, Providence, R.I.

A: She’s done a modest amount of it, but one home-screen role was quite significant in helping her launch her career. She played Inga Helms Weiss – and won an Emmy for the part – in the much-acclaimed 1978 miniseries “Holocaust,” and that wasn’t her only such award, since she earned another Emmy more than 25 years later for playing multiple roles in the HBO version of the play “Angels in America.”

Early on, Streep also did the TV movie “The Deadliest Season” and a couple of PBS “Great Performances” productions, and after winning her first Oscar (for “Kramer vs. Kramer”), she returned to television for the Lewis Carroll-inspired “Alice at the Palace.” It was quite a coup for ABC to land her for the 1997 drama movie “ … First Do No Harm,” and she has contributed voices to “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill.” She joined the star-laden cast of the 2003 documentary “Freedom: A History of Us,” and she guest-starred in several episodes of Lisa Kudrow’s “Web Therapy.”

Ellen DeGeneres

Q: Please settle a bet. How long has “Ellen’s Game of Games” been on? – Kara Wells, via e-mail

A: The NBC program officially started at the very beginning of 2018, but it might seem like it’s been on longer because a number of the games it encompasses originally were played on DeGeneres’ syndicated weekday talk show. “Game of Games” has been a considerable hit for the network, confirmed by the fact that it’s now heading toward its third season.

Q: I’ve noticed an actress named Cindy Busby in a lot of Hallmark Channel and Lifetime movies. What is her background? – Mary Hunt, Erie, Pa.

A: Those two outlets surely do give the Montreal-born actress plenty of work, and it’s a rare week when at least one of her films doesn’t appear on one or the other (or both). Her television career began on the Canadian-made shows “Bethune” and “Heartland,” and she also appeared on such U.S. shows made north of the border as “Supernatural” and “The Secret Circle.” She later had roles on the Hallmark series “Cedar Cove” and “When Calls the Heart,” as well as UPtv’s “Date My Dad” and “Somewhere Between,” which had a short life on ABC.

Busby’s feature films have included “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “The Big Year,” but certainly, cable movies have been her mainstay in recent years. Among the many have been “Unleashing Mr. Darcy” (and its sequel, “Marrying Mr. Darcy”), “Runaway Christmas Bride,” “Royal Hearts,” “The Killer Downstairs,” “My Boyfriend’s Back: Wedding March 5” and two thrillers that were just “Wrong” … “The Wrong Daughter” and “The Wrong Stepmother.”

Q: Why is “Manifest” not coming back until midseason? I thought it did very well for NBC. – Robert Fisher, Elyria, Ohio

A: It did, and part of the network‘s rationale for Year 2 is to let the show’s full season run continuously in successive weeks – rather than be broken into two chunks, as it was for Season 1, when it took a one-month break.

One of the hurdles for a serialized drama is that during the end-of-year holidays, viewership can trail off when people have so many other activities to attend to. From a programming standpoint, that can impact ratings, so NBC is hoping to avoid that by waiting until early 2020 to start “Manifest’s” sophomore round.

Q: Where have I seen the young actress who plays the housekeeper Ingrid on “Grand Hotel” before? – Rick Stein, via e-mail

A: Anne Winters may be best-known for her role as the daughter of a Middle Eastern dictator’s son on the FX series “Tyrant,” but a 2015 Lifetime movie she made – “The Bride He Bought Online” – has gotten, and continues to get, numerous showings.

Netflix viewers also might recognize Winters from the drama “13 Reasons Why,” and she appeared in multiple episodes of Freeform’s “The Fosters.” Her performance as a cancer patient in the digital series “Zac & Mia” earned her a 2018 Daytime Emmy Award.

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Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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