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Call It the "House" Effect: NBC Hires From the Other Side of the Pond



Besides wondering whether NBC is going to drown in complaints from hiring fired Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington, it was the question of the moment during the second day of the network's press tour presentations here in Los Angeles Tuesday.

Why are there so many British actors playing yanks on their new shows?

Michelleryan Journeyman1 Watch newly minted Bionic Woman Michelle Ryan; the time-traveling journalist played by Kevin McKidd in the quirky drama Journeyman; or Damian Lewis' irritating Det. Charlie Crews in the saga of a wrongly jailed cop, Life.

Onscreen, their cadences are flat as a midwestern turnpike; in real life, their lilting accents bring visions of rolling English countrysides and a strong cup of Earl Gray.

Damianlewis2_2 The surest sign this is a trend worth watching: The producers and TV types you ask about it deny that it's a trend at all (Lewis at left).

"I think there's a lot of people at the moment thinking there's a story there, thinking there's a pattern and there isn't," said McKidd, better known as Lucius Vorenus on HBO's popular British adaptation of the Julius Caesar saga, Rome. "There's not suddenly this season -- suddenly some fast track portal that all these British actors are flying through to LAX."

Hughlaurie460 Maybe not. But following the unexpected success of British import Hugh Laurie on Fox's House, the Peacock Network seems to have overloaded on actors from across the pond.

Bionic executive producer David Eick hinted at the real explanation Tuesday, noting that nabbing Ryan, co-star of a popular English show, East Enders, was a win-win -- bringing an experienced, proven star in one country to America, where audiences haven't yet met her.

"You really felt like you were, you know, discovering somebody," Eick said Tuesday. "It was like that old Hollywood story where you're finding someone who no one knows...It really felt like we had stumbled onto something special."

And for Lewis -- a Brit who has played American in stuff such as HBO's Band of Brothers and the Stephen King movie Dreamcatcher -- losing his English tones seems easy as slipping off a pair of pants; a notion the actor proved Monday, drawing gasps by switching seamlessly to an American patios mid-way through a sentence onstage.

Here's a quick test of your BIQ (British IQ) -- Who is British and who isn't?

Naveen Lost star Naveen Andrews

Jasonisaacs Brotherhood co-star Jason Isaacs

Lennie Jericho co-star Lennie James

1530__dominic_west_l The Wire co-star Dominic West

Surprise! They're all British!

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:39pm]


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