Henry Thomas knew he didn't have a lot of time to find the right way to play his character of T.J. Karsten on the ABC drama "Betrayal." Only 13 episodes of the series were ordered, with the finale scheduled for Jan. 19. Ratings have been so low, the chances of a second season are slim.
That didn't stop Thomas — best known for being an alien's best buddy in "E.T." — from giving his all to the role. And, it was a role that offered a particular challenge because the character has some brain damage. Such roles are tricky because an actor has to get across the limitations of the character while not going to extremes and creating a caricature.
Thomas says finding the right way to play the role started with conversations with executive producers David Zabel and Patty Jenkins.
"They were very concerned that the character came across as a real, viable person. I think it comes down to being respectful that most people with disabilities are working against them. It's through that filter of their disability that they emerge," Thomas says. "My responsibility in playing him is fleshing out those moments and showing he's a real guy who's quite clever and able to do things — just not everything."
His character has become a big part of the series about a beautiful photographer who begins an affair with a lawyer of a powerful family. Their worlds collide through a murder trial involving both of them on separate sides.
Part of portraying the brain damage for Thomas is how he must stand and move his face.
"There's a real physical aspect to the role," Thomas says. "It gets a little tiring. As I get older and more susceptible to wrinkling up in certain places, I expect there's a lot of cosmetic surgery if this show keeps going."
As for that big role in "E.T.," Thomas has always regarded the film as his big breakthrough moment.
"As an adult, I don't look back and say that's my best work ever," he says. "I am certainly proud of it."
You would think the main reason to be jealous of Fresno's Christopher Gorham is that he stars in the first-rate drama "Covert Affairs" on the USA Network.
But Gorham's involved with another project that makes this comic book geek more envious. He's the voice of The Flash in the new animated movie, "Justice League: War," the latest entry in the ongoing series of "DC Universe Animated Original Movies." It will be released Feb. 4.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the DC world, The Flash is a super speedster. There was a TV series in 1990 based on the character and Flash's secret identity of Barry Allen was introduced in recent episodes of "Arrow" on the CW Network.
Here's what Gorham's lending his voice to: "Justice League War" features an alien attack — under the direction of Darkseid — that threatens worldwide destruction. The threat is so big it brings together the top superheroes. Along with The Flash, the heroes united include Batman (Jason O'Mara), Superman (Alan Tudyk), Wonder Woman (Michelle Monaghan), Green Lantern (Justin Kirk), Shazam (Sean Astin) and Cyborg (Shemar Moore).
Gorham will be one of the special guests at The Paley Center for Media in New York when the world premiere of "Justice League: War" is held Jan. 21.
New episodes of "Covert Affairs" will return to USA next summer.
A show with style
ABC's "The Goldbergs" is a comedy that looks at life in the late '80s.
Wendi McLendon-Covey, who plays wife and mom Beverly, was born in 1969, so she was wrapping up her own teen years at that time. A quarter of a century later, she gets to look back and talk about her biggest regrets from that time.
"What I really regret is my senior picture. Me with my lioness hair and hot pink sweater," McLendon-Covey tells me. "I regret that my parents have a huge 16 x 20 of it, and it greets me every time I go over there."
The series is a constant reminder of her bad fashion choices and the fashion failings of the period. She says most people would be surprised to know that while her outfits on the show are often outlandish, what she ends up wearing is the result of a lot of conversations to tone down the look from the original choices.
McLendon-Covey's dream during the '80s was to be just like Madonna. The only problem was that her parents didn't allow her to have any style.
"If you can picture a Teddy Bear sweatshirt and Reeboks and jeans. It was not cute. Then I wore a cheerleading outfit for awhile. I was not allowed to follow any trends," McLendon-Covey says.
The only time she tried to change clothes to something more trendy, after leaving the house for a date, McLendon-Covey got caught and it was not a pleasant exchange. Her own '80s memories will be incorporated into the show, even how her father stopped talking to her after she got a training bra.
McLendon-Covey jokes that not every '80s fashion trend was a complete flop. She still believes that huge shoulder pads make women look slimmer.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.