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Stars of the future: 10 new TV faces to watch

Rick Bentley
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)
Tristan Wilds

Each year since 1998, I've compiled a "10 to Watch" list of actors on TV. These are actors on new network shows who have the potential to go on to bigger careers even if their new series fails.

Past years have been easy. The first "10 to Watch" included Keri Russell, Kevin James and Sean Hayes. Even the cast of "That '70s Show" was singled out and almost all of them have continued to work.

This year was a nightmare. The lower number of new shows, 19, would have made the task difficult enough. But the networks, particularly the CW Network, have not been real helpful in getting to see the new shows in advance.

So instead of trying to boil down dozens of potential actors with the skill to find real stardom, this year's list is just the best of what is a very weak 2008-2009 television season field.

1. Kyle Bornheimer, "Worst Week," CBS: Since he moved to Los Angeles from his hometown of South Bend, Ind., the actor has appeared in a host of shows from "The Office" to "Jericho."

This comedy puts him in the spotlight. Because he is playing a guy who has nothing but bad luck, this is a chance to build some real empathy from the audience.

What he says about the show's physical comedy: "I love it. It's fun to go into work to figure out the mechanics of that and how to make each moment funny."

2. Justin Bruening, "Knight Rider," NBC: Daytime drama fans know Bruening from his work on "All My Children." But the former model is now getting the chance to build a larger fan base though this updated action series. The original "Knight Rider" made David Hasselhoff a star. And Bruening has far more talent than Hasselhoff.

What he says of starring with a talking car: "The car is the star of the show. It's 'Knight Rider,' but you know it's a whole ensemble cast. We all deal with the car."

3. Lucy Kate Hale, "Privileged," CW Network: The actress began to get some attention last year playing Jamie Sommers' little sister on the failed NBC show "The Bionic Woman." She back playing another little sister but the role will give her a lot more to do.

She had a small role in "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2." It was memorable enough to show she could star in "Traveling Pants 3" if such a film gets made.

What she says about playing a little sister: "I'm actually a little sister. So maybe it's not really acting."

4. AnnaLynne McCord, "90210," The CW: The Atlanta native wants to become the new Angelina Jolie. She's got a great start on fulfilling that dream. Fans of the FX Network series "Nip/Tuck" have already seen how McCord can heat up a scene. This series should establish McCord as one of television's best bad girls.

What she says about being cast as the bad girl: "I want to do the bad-a-- girl, I like action, so it's a good role for me."

5. Niecy Nash, "Do Not Disturb," Fox: The firecracker comedian has built a small following through her work on "Reno 911." Her sharp wit and comic timing is deserving of network exposure. She even manages to be funny when the comedy isn't. (And this one wasn't -- Fox canceled it after three episodes.)

What she says about her current work status: "I know that I belong to Fox. That's where I belong right now."

6. Jason O'Mara, "Life on Mars," ABC: If the network does not mess up this American version of the British miniseries, the Irish actor should be able to write his own ticket for future roles.

He had a story arc in "Grey's Anatomy" and was a recurring character on 'Men In Trees." Those were lightweight compared to this role as a police detective who finds himself in the wrong decade.

What he says about the early changes to the show: "I'm the only survivor from the original pilot. Call it Irish luck."

7. Anne Slowey, "Stylista," CW Network: Everyone loves a villain. The Fashion News Director of Elle magazine will fill that role in the new reality series. She's going to be tough and demanding. Imagine a female Simon Cowell.

What she says about her management style: "I've worked in this business for 20 years. I feel very passionate about what I do. I care deeply about the people who work for me. I will give them everything. I ask a lot. I'm very, very demanding."

8. Anna Torv, "Fringe," Fox: Female stars in J.J. Abrams series have gone on to fame and fortune: Keri Russell, Jennifer Garner, Evangeline Lilly. And this Australian actress has just as much talent.

Look for her to use the role as an FBI agent, assigned to a special detail that looks into the odd and creepy, as the start of much bigger things.

What she says about playing a tough character: "It's great. It makes life at work fun. I get to wear flat shoes and run really hard. And I feel strong and tough."

9. Tristan Wilds, "90210," The CW: The New York native has already shown his acting abilities on the HBO series "The Wire." But that series had a limited audience because it was on pay cable. His role on this high-profile show should launch Wilds into stardom.

What he says about going from "The Wire" to "90210": "I can say it's been a transition nevertheless, but it's been an easier transition than what I thought it would be."

10. Philip Winchester, "Crusoe," NBC: This is the shakiest pick of them all. NBC has not let critics see the show. And there are no guarantees it will launch in October. But starring in a series where you are at times the only actor on screen will get anyone's attention.

Winchester is best known for his role in "Thunderbirds" as Scott Tracy.

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