For Denise Dorman, a fan of the acclaimed Fox television show "Glee," the series' new season has provided a huge bonus, and his name is John Stamos.
"My husband and I are 'Gleeks,' and seeing John Stamos go from 'ER' in a more dramatic, serious role, to the goofy dentist he'll play on 'Glee' – someone so against his typical character type – is something we are really looking forward to," said Dorman, a marketing professional in Carpentersville, Ill.
Stamos is just one of a hot group of actors – small-screen icons with several pop culture-legacy series under their belts – whose every move on television is tracked and followed by adoring fans.
Stamos's juggernaut began back in 1987 when he played Jesse Katsopolis on "Full House" for an eight-year run. He's starred in "Thieves," "Jake in Progress," and the crowd-pleaser "ER."
Now Stamos is back on network television in the recurring role of dentist Carl Howell on Fox's hit show "Glee." In tonight's episode, Dr. Howell's expertise provides the creative juice behind the show's anesthesia-fueled, Britney Spears-centric dream sequence.
In an interview published in USA Today, Stamos said that in other shows he was asked to be "the cool guy or the charming guy. This guy [Dr. Howell] wants to be that guy, but he misses the mark."
Although Stamos's dentist character may have the lovable loser gene, casting proven and durable series' actors and actresses in new series is often a successful strategy.
"If fans like a particular actor in a certain series, they'll tend to follow that star's new series," said Gloria Smith, president of Media Connection, a media-buying agency, in Rochester, N.Y. "A show's popularity determines ratings, and ratings help determine what television affiliates can charge companies to buy air time for commercials."
Jimmy Smits's career has also been fueled by ground-breaking television series. After establishing his acting chops on "L.A. Law," Smits got the star-making role of Detective Bobby Simone in "NYPD Blue." Stints on "West Wing," "Cane" and "Dexter" followed. Now he's starring on CBS's "Outlaw," portraying a former Supreme Court justice who starts his own law practice.
Keri Russell and her angelic blond ringlets became an audience darling in 1998 when she starred in "Felicity." Now she's in Fox's new offering "Running Wilde," playing an environmental activist.
Michael Chiklis, with a string of hit series behind him – "The Commish" from the early nineties, "Daddio" and the gritty, ground-breaking cop show, "The Shield" – is now the star of "No Ordinary Family," debuting tonight on ABC.
Chiklis plays Jim Powell, the head of a family whose members suddenly find themselves in possession of certain superhuman powers. His wife is portrayed by Julie Benz, whose character on Showtime's "Dexter" was brutally murdered last season.
Like Benz, other upstarts hope they're well on their way to establishing thriving television careers by creating iconic audience-pleasing characters.
Daniel Dae Kim, who had recurring roles on "24" and "ER," hit pay dirt when he played sympathetic, affable Jin on "Lost." As "Lost" ended its run, he quickly got snapped up to play Detective Chin Ho Kelly on CBS's new series "Hawaii Five-O."