Why Does Donnie Wahlberg Still Care about New Kids on the Block? And the Acting Tribulations of 'That Guy'
What I didn't know, was that the best way to pierce that facade and get to some real emotion was to bring up an unlikely subject: is old band, '80s teen popsters New Kids on the Block.
While interviewing Donnie for my Floridian piece today on cool actors who deserve a hit TV show now, we got to talking about the group that made the Right Stuff a household phrase way back when, along with the personal meltdown of a certain former teen pop queen. And it turns out, he's still got a few chips on his shoulders from back then.
ME: Do you think you had it a bit easier when New Kids were big, because there wasn't as much scrutiny of young celebrities then?
Donnie: Did we have it easier? When we were famous, MTV wouldn’t play teenagers. Then MTV started total Request Live it became a part of their business plan and they woke up. When we came out, thy didn’t care. They hated us. They had this show with the top 10 most requestsed videos, they didn’t want us on there. I remember the host, that Adam Curry guy, used to roll his eyes whenever we came out. When backstreet and the others came on, it was clear that would sell and their priorities changed. We never were invited to the MTV Video Music Award. We were never a part of that. When the Backstreet Boys, were big they asked us to reunited. I said screw that -- you didn't need us then, we don't need you now."
"I thought I would take years for a group like Backstreet or 'NSync to be successful. I give their manager a lot of credit becaue he spent a lot of money to make it happen. I give them credit for being able to escape the stigma that was attached to us. We had no love back then. We were the enemies of everything that’s okay now. At the same time...when you step out of a car with your stuff hanging out while you're hanging with Paris Hilton, what do you think is going to happen? I don’t know what Britney's deal is. She knows the cameras are outside of he place and she’s cutting her hair. I don't know. I did stuff when I was younger to get attention...I just did shit. Maybe that's what she's doing now.”
Here's my list of some other cool actors who should have TV hits by now, but don't. I call them the That Guy/Girl crew (because, when you see them, you shout, "it's THAT GUY.")
How we know her: Starring roles in quirky TV projects such as the Elmore Leonard-lite drama Karen Sisco and portentious Sci-Fi serial Threshold (she was also Ben Stiller's love interest in the unexpected film hit Night at the Museum).
Why she's That Girl: Beautiful, adept at comedy, action and drama, Gugino has never landed in a series where all the parts worked as well as she does.
How we know him: Rocked the TV universe as driven, uncompromising detective Frank Pembleton on NBC's classic series Homicide: Life on the Street. Later efforts, especially FX's recent heist drama Thief, never reached those heights.
Why he's That Guy: Walked away from one of TV's best characters at the top of his game, as if other meaty roles were just around the corner. After playing the ship's captain in last year's lame-o Poseidon Adventure remake, he discovered how wrong that idea was (he continued this streak of jaw-dropping career decisions last year, leaving a role on ER as a homicidal former patient that went to Forest Whitaker -- who is sure to win an Emmy for it. Braugher's role? A part in the Fantastic Four sequel. Hope they paid a lot,dude.)
How we know her: Starring roles in sassy, self-titled shows (Life With Bonnie, The Bonnie Hunt Show) that never found a mass audience, despite her ace writing. Oh, and she plays the mom in those sappy Cheaper by the Dozen movies.
Why she's That Girl: Her snappy, sardonic wit has always made her a better talk show guest than series star; typical TV roles only seem to diminish her.
Why he's That Guy: Kevin Hill was an urbane comedy on a network filled with Star Trek and pro wrestling fans. But when was the last time a black man who wasn't a comic the star of a hit TV series? (maybe now, given that Diggs has been tapped to co-star in the Grey' Anatomy spin-off now under devellopment at ABC)