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Alex O'Loughlin, Skeet Ulrich, Jerry O'Connell: Will the third time be lucky?

September 23, 2010 | 12:37 pm

 O'loughlin The third time around might be the charm for Alex O’Loughlin. Three might also be a lucky number for Skeet Ulrich, Jerry O’Connell and Blair Underwood. Donnie Wahlberg might hit pay dirt with No. 4. 

Among the new and familiar faces popping up in the new fall network lineup are several well-known actors with solid credentials who have been less than lucky when it comes to landing a hit TV show.   

O'Loughlin, Ulrich, O'Connell and Underwood all have proven star power, and have worked steadily in film and TV over the last several years. But they all have come up short when it comes to finding a series that lasts more than a couple of seasons. In fact, several of their shows have been yanked after a few episodes.

O'Loughlin, the hunky actor who is a favorite of CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler and other network executives, faces his biggest test for leading man cred with "Hawaii Five-O," the revamp of the classic '70s detective drama. His previous tries as a vampire-turned-detective in "Moonlight" and as a doctor in last year's medical drama "Three Rivers" both fell flat. "The Back-Up Plan," a romantic comedy teaming O'Loughlin with Jennifer Lopez, also bombed.

Solid ratings for Monday's premiere of "Hawaii Five-O" suggest that O'Loughlin's losing streak may be coming to an end.

Blair Underwood, who first came to prominence as one of the main characters in "L.A. Law" and has had several prominent guest star and recurring stints on shows such as "Sex and the City" and "The New Adventures of Old Christine," may also have a winner on his hands with NBC's "The Event" after starring in two short-lived dramas --"City of Angels" in 2000 and "LAX'" in 2004. Though Underwood plays a supporting role on the new show -- he's the president of the United States -- he has been prominently featured in the drama's promotion, and is the most recognizable face on the show.

Another well-known face to TV audiences is Wahlberg, who shows up in "Blue Bloods," the New-York-based police drama starring Tom Selleck. The show marks Wahlberg's fourth series since 2002. He starred in NBC''s "Boomtown" in 2002, the WB's "Runaway" in 2006 (which was canceled after four episodes), and Spike TV's "The Kill Point" in 2007.

O'Connell, who starred in two-back-to-back bombs -- "Carpoolers" in 2007 and "Do Not Disturb" in 2008 -- will try to become a leading man again with CBS' "The Defenders" in which he stars as a fast-track defense attorney teamed with Jim Belushi.  

Skeet And after starring in two high-concept series that failed to connect with audiences ("Miracles" in 2003 and "Jericho," which was canceled in 2006 after two season), Ulrich will play a more down-to-earth leading man in the highly anticipated "Law & Order: Los Angeles," the spinoff of the landmark "Law & Order" police-legal drama.

If Ulrich, O'Loughlin, O'Connell, Underwood and Wahlberg need proof of how quickly dry spells can end, they can look to Simon Baker.  After three years on "The Guardian," Baker's next show, "Smith" about a group of professional thieves, tanked after only a few weeks. But his next show, "The Mentalist," which is now in its third season, was an instant hit with audiences and remains one of CBS' most popular series.

-- Greg Braxton

Top photo: Alex O'Loughlin at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on April 19. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Middle photo: Blair Underwood in "The Event." Credit: Tony Esparza / CBS

Bottom photo: Skeet Ulrich in "Law & Order: Los Angeles." Credit: Dean Hendler / NBC