TV has become, in the opinion of many Directors/Actors, the most creatively fertile ground.
In the last few years we have seen an exodus of talent from Hollywood, and those who have left have been so provoked by the current climate of film making they have felt the need to not only abandon the Hollywood system, but make public declarations as to their reasons.
We've lost the two greatest 'Stevens' (Spielberg and Soderbergh) in the last few years, both of whom have blamed the monopolization of Studio based mainstream content and escalating budgets. From Soderbergh, this frustration is understandable: but from Spielberg, who all but invented the concept of a summer blockbuster with Jaws (and is held responsible by many for the death of the New Hollywood, the US film industries most critically successful period) this is an extreme statement indeed: something is amiss in Hollywood, and all the warning lights are flashing vehemently at the minute.
The last time an event as dramatic as the current exodus from Hollywood occurred led to something called the Paramount Decision, which fundamentally and irrevocably altered the landscape of global cinema.
It was decided that certain interests were able to exploit their control over the Hollywood system to monopolize the industry, creating a relative stranglehold on any content not produced by The Big 5. This has repeated itself a number of times since, and different solutions were found...
In the late 1960's, as a studio monopoly took hold, a movement of
opposition called The New Hollywood or Post-Classical Hollywood
occurred: producing perhaps the most celebrated directors and actors
of all time...
After this period of rebellion, Spielberg and Lucas began
co-operating with the studios again and worked to initiate what
became the blockbuster model of movies: they, amongst others, are
quite reviled amongst film aesthetes for this betrayal; but in
reality, the New Hollywooders were largely out of control in their
self-indulgent pursuit of auterism by the time the Blockbusters
- By the early 1990s, despite the fact that Blockbusters were
'booming', the lack of cinematic opposition within the US system led
to the rise of 'the independents' to produce alternative content.
Miramax were a fundamental part of this, which again led to a period
of creative affluence which produced the likes of Soderberg and
- In the late noughties, studios had become dependent on a system that
used a summer blockbuster to provide the majority of their yearly
income. With these pictures competing directly against each other in
a release window of only a couple of weeks, budgets inevitably
swelled in competition. In the 'Michael Bay' era of cinema, the size
of a Movie's Budget is often its own marketing campaign. As a result
of this, sincere creative talent has found solace in a medium that is
still cinematic, but grants a broader lease of play for its
actors/directors/producers. That medium is Television, and as such
the Greed of the Studios has unexpectedly created a golden age of
Television: long may it reign.
The reason why this last, and current, era is so potently worrying for the industry is because it is the first time since the paramount decision that talent has moved out the industry and into another medium: Television.
In addition, I have to categorically and wholly disagree with CGCambell's assertion that the reason movies stars are getting involved with TV work is because of the 'Paycheck, paycheck, paycheck.'
If you watch most of these shows, you'll quickly realize that in many cases the lead actors are also producers and executive producers: meaning they have sunk personal resources into the projects to make them successful.
There is a reason that the majority of these actors are credible, respected stars who have traditionally pursued diverse roles: they are, on the whole, individuals who have traditionally engaged in the stagecraft of the industry, as opposed to merely phoning it in and picking up the cheque (although this is to be judged on a case by case basis, as opposed to a rule).
There is a reason, for example, that during Matthew McConaughey's cinematic rehabilitation he has contributed directly to the production of the finest TV show of the last 20 years: True Detective... this is not a subjective statement! ;-)