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Homegrown TV stars Brittany Snow, Joanna Garcia, Monica Raymund poised for bigger, better

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The thought occurred midway through last Monday's excruciating pilot episode of Kathy Bates' new legal drama, Harry's Law. • The networks are squandering the Tampa Bay area's most precious TV-related export: talented, young, homegrown female actors. • Doubt me? Watch Monday's installment of NBC's Harry's Law, centered on Bates' wacky patent lawyer-turned-neighborhood attorney defending a senior citizen-aged black woman who admits she used a gun to rob somebody for food. • Way in the background, you'll see Tampa native Brittany Snow — who once starred in a pretty good show of her own, NBC's '60s-era drama American Dreams — marking time as Bates' assistant/high-end shoe saleswoman. (Their office is in an old designer shoe store, courtesy of TV's master of legal eccentricities, Boston Legal creator David E. Kelley.) • And she's not the only one. Keep your eyes open this week for these cool Tampa Bay-bred actors who deserve bigger stages than they've got right now.

Brittany Snow, 24

Now playing: Jenna Backstrom, assistant to attorney Harriet Korn, the endearing curmudgeon on NBC's Harry's Law (10 p.m. Mondays on WFLA-Ch. 8).

Best known as: Mean girl Amber von Tussle in 2007's Hairspray or American Bandstand-dancing good-girl teen Meg Pryor on American Dreams in 2002.

The scoop: Snow took the typical route for local talents, working her way up through magazine ads and a soap opera as a kid (she was Susan Lemay on Guiding Light) to network TV and movie roles as an adult. She always seems one good TV pilot away from success as a CW-style youth drama star (she almost scored one in 2009, when she played mother to the star character in Gossip Girl in a flashback episode meant as a series pilot).

Joanna Garcia, 31

Now playing: Impulsively perky Mia Putney, who is marrying and having a baby with a man she has known for seven weeks on the ABC sitcom Better With You (8:30 p.m. Wednesdays on WFTS-Ch. 28).

Best known as: The married, pregnant high school-age daughter to Reba McEntire's self-named character on the WB/CW sitcom Reba.

The scoop: She has worked on TV since the early '90s, starting with parts on Florida-shot shows such as seaQuest DSV, then classic series Party of Five and Freaks and Geeks. But she hasn't quite nailed the starring sitcom role she seemed born to play, getting closest with ABC's half-hearted comedy about three couples in a family at various stages of relationship.

Monica Raymund, 24

Now playing: Ria Torres, an assistant to Tim Roth's human lie detector, Dr. Cal Lightman, on Fox's Lie to Me (9 p.m. Mondays on WTVT-Ch. 13).

The scoop: The St. Petersburg native scored her first big TV role as Torres, a TSA agent turned human lie detector in training. Trained at Juilliard and St. Petersburg's Shorecrest Preparatory School, Raymund seems bursting to move beyond the typical sidekick subplots on a standard network TV crime procedural.

TiVo or Ti-NO?

Working Class, debuts at 8 p.m. Friday on CMT: New versions of old-school TV sitcoms usually fall into two camps: youth-centered Hannah Montana-style showcases for pop stars in the making, and stuff aimed at the over-50 crowd. So when CMT centers its first sitcom on a supporting actor from Reba and TV's Lou Grant, you know what audience they're gunning for. Star Melissa Peterman knows her gig, nailing the punch lines while working the stage like she's still stealing scenes from Reba. But Ed Asner acts as tired as the limp jokes he's forced to drop, playing her older co-worker at a convenience store. And the situation — working-class mom of three tries to make it in a new suburban home — feels as stale as the old bread her character sells on the job. Ti-NO

Homegrown TV stars Brittany Snow, Joanna Garcia, Monica Raymund poised for bigger, better 01/22/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 22, 2011 3:31am]
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