‘The Good Wife’ books David Hyde Pierce

‘TGW’ mines Broadway for great actors

For 20 years, beginning in 1990, if you read the bios of actors in that Playbill program you get for free at a Broadway show, many actors listed “Law & Order” in their bios.  There was much weeping and wailing when that show ended and many actors lost “day” jobs.

For the past five years, though, stage actors have had “The Good Wife,” which shoots at Broadway Stages in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Not only does the Emmy Award-winning show feature experienced stage actors like regulars Christine Baranski (most recently on Broadway as the surly housekeeper in “Boeing-Boeing”) and Alan Cumming (currently starring in “Cabaret”), it added Nathan Lane and Stockard Channing (both currently in “It’s Only a Play”) several seasons ago in recurring roles.

On Friday, “The Good Wife” creators and writing team, Michelle and Robert King and CBS, announced David Hyde Pierce will be returning to TV for the first time since “Frasier” in a recurring role as “a highly respected cable news legal commentator” who’s so outraged at the corruption and murder rate in Chicago (where the show is set) “that he decides to run for office in order to affect change,” according to CBS.

David Hyde Pierce as Vanya in the Broadway production of "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike."
David Hyde Pierce as Vanya in the Broadway production of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”

Pierce, who won four Emmys for his work on “Frasier” opposite co-star Kelsey Grammer, appeared in “Beyond Therapy,” “The Heidi Chronicles,”“Monty Python’s Spamalot,”  “Curtains,” “Accent on Youth,” “La Bête”on Broadway — for which he won a Tony — and will make his Broadway directorial debut next spring with “It Shoulda Been You.” Pierce directed the world premiere of the musical comedy at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick in the fall of 2011. It starred Tyne Daly and was one of the funniest productions I’ve ever seen. Just as funny as “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” which featured Pierce and moved to Broadway from McCarter Theatre in Princeton.

But I digress.

Other stage actors who’ve enhanced the quality of “TGW” include  Kate BurtonTerry Kinney, Craig Bierko,  Boyd Gaines,  Elizabeth Marvel, Jessica Hecht and Santino Fontana.

The judge’s bench has been a revolving door of Tony Award-winners such as Denis O’Hare, Dick Latessa and Joanna Gleason.

“It’s like early ‘Law & Order,’ ” said Christine Baranski, in a New York Times article. She plays the acerbic law firm partner Diane Lockhart, and has shared the stage with many of the co-stars now joining her on TV. “It becomes like a repertory company.”

Whatever. It works well and makes a great TV show even better.