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The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Paula Marshall

31 Aug

(The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame is where we turn the spotlight on a television actor or actress, and it is named after their patron saint, Zeljko Ivanek)

The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame is equal opportunity, and it’s past time for the appearance of our first female member.

This week we’ll celebrate Paula Marshall.  If you are familiar with her at all, you probably know that her appearance in a pilot all but assures that season one of the show will be its last.  In fact, she was on six new shows that were cancelled within a period of eight years.  We’ll get to all that and more.  Let’s start with the beginning.

Marshall got her first television jobs in 1990 in single eisodes of True Blue and Mancuso, FBI, but got more exposure in three episode runs of both Life Goes On and  The Wonder Years in 1992.  She then appeared in classic Seinfeld episode The Outing, as an NYU student interviewing Jerry who becomes convinced that Jerry and George are in a relationship, leading to the famous line, “Not that there’s anything wrong with it.”  After appearing in a Diagnosis Murder episode, she got her first regular sitcom role in the 1994’s Wild Oats, on Fox, about a group of twenty-somethings in Chicago.  The series also co-starred Paul Rudd, and lasted all of six episodes.  After cameos in two Nash Bridges episodes and a Single Guy, she got her next series, Chicago Sons, about three brothers, portrayed by Jason Bateman, David Krumholtz, and D.W. Moffett. Marshall plays the love interest for the Jason Bateman character.

Marshall next got a recurring role in Spin Cityand then was cast in her third show, Rob Thomas’ critically acclaimed Cupid, alongside Jeremy Piven.  Marshall played a psychologist treating a patient who believes he is truly the mythological entity cupid.  After Cupid’s cancellation,Marshall immediately fell into David E. Kelley’s Snoops, as a member of an unconventional female dominated detective agency led by Gina Gershon.  Ten episodes aired on ABC.  She appeared in three episodes of Sports Night, as a porn star and love interest of Josh Molina.  She soon appeared in her fifth sitcom, Cursed, later renamed The Weber Show, starring Steven Weber as a man “cursed” by an ex-girlfriend, and thus who suffers from constant bad luck.  The series also co-starred Chris Elliott and Wendell Pierce. Marshall showed up in two episodes of Just Shoot Me and one of Miss Match before getting her next show, Hidden Hills, in 2002, an NBC sitcom about three suburban families.  Eighteen episodes aired this time.

Marshall’s next television project consisted of being reunited with Cupid creator Rob Thomas in a four episode stint as a guidance counselor on Veronica Mars who has a brief fling with Veronica’s dad. She came back to regular role-dom for Out of Practice, a sitcom about a family of doctors who fought with one another, starring Henry Winkler, Stockard Channing, and Ty Burrell.  After Out of Practice said goodbye, Marshall appeared in seven episodes of Nip/Tuck as an actress who dates Sean, and showed up in three episodes of James Woods’ Shark.  She appeared in nine episodes of Californication, as a friend of David Duchovny’s wife with whom he has a one-night stand.

Against absolutely all odds, a Paula Marshall series actually got a second season, as Gary Unmarried, in which she starred with Jay Mohr as divorced parents, received a second season, but no more.  That was also her most recent brush with appearing as a regular, but since, she’s appeared as Cuddy’s sister in House.  In addition to all these cancelled series, she also showed up in at least two pilots which were not picked up, Cooking Lessons, and Sticks, by Rob Thomas.