We’re calling it — these are the actors destined for small screen stardom this year. Get to know them.
Name: Jonathan Groff
Where he’s been: Remember Jesse St. James from “Glee?” He was the cocky (and cute!) lead of Vocal Adrenaline, New Direction’s biggest singing rivals in Season One. He pretended to like Rachel to get close to the group and take them down from the inside and eventually ends up egging her in a parking lot. Not cool, bro.
Where he’s going:Groff stars as one of the three male leads on HBO’s “Looking” (premieres this Sunday), a new drama/comedy about a group of gay friends in San Francisco a la “Girls” but, you know, with guys. He’s still really cute.
Name: David Walton
Where he’s been: Walton starred as the rakish and incorrigibly irresponsible Vance on NBC’s short-lived (but actually, rather well-done) 2010 sitcom “Perfect Couples.” He stole the show. More recently, he had a recurring a role on “New Girl” as Jess’s goofy (but still pretty rakish) love interest Dr. Sam.
Where he’s going: They’re making a television adaptation of Nick Hornby’s 1998 novel “About a Boy!” (It was also adapted into an awesome Hugh Grant movie in 2002.) The story is the same — Walton will star as rakish and incorrigible (we’re seeing a pattern here) bachelor and man-child Will Freeman (filling Grant’s shoes here will be a challenge, but we think he’s up for it), an independently wealthy and totally self-involved guy whose “perfect” life is turned upside down when he meets a weird young boy and his kooky mother. “About a Boy” debuts on NBC, following the Olympics, on February 25.
Name: Sasheer Zamata
Where she’s been: A regular performer with Upright Citizens Brigade, the comedian has appeared in various sketches on fellow comedians’ shows, including “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell” and “Inside Amy Schumer” (pro tip: watch Schumer’s show, she’s hilarious).
Where she’s going: Zamata might not have face recognition now, but she will very soon. The funny lady was just hired as the newest cast member on “Saturday Night Live” — and the first black, female cast member since biracial “SNL” alum Maya Rudolph left the show way back in 2007. It’s about time. We have high hopes for Zamata, who, if the sketches we’ve watched are any indication, has the comedy chops to shake up a show that many feel has become tired and a bit rote.
Name: Greg Kinnear
Where he’s been: OK, OK, you know where he’s been. Kinnear is not exactly a fresh face, seeing as he’s a big-ass movie star — “As Good As It Gets,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “You’ve Got Mail,” just to name a few — but he’s never before starred on the small screen.
Where he’s going: That’s about to change, because Kinnear is set to star in Fox’s new comedy “Rake,” as Keegan Deane, a self-destructive criminal defense lawyer whose career, personal life and finances are in the toilet. An adaptation of an Australian legal drama, this “Rake” paints Deane in a less bleak light (apparently the original was pretty dark), probably because it’s difficult not to be charmed by Kinnear. His TV debut in on trend with a new movement of big names in film moving to television, a la Kevin Bacon in “The Following.”
PLUS: THREE TO SEE
Why: This buddy comedy about three military brat brothers — a star soldier, authority-resistant slacker and earnest but incompetent f—up, respectively — features a motley crewy of characters quirky enough to keep storylines fresh. Plus, the slacker bro is played by Chris Lowell (of “Veronica Mars”) who recalls an early days Jim Halpert and seems destined for bigger things.
When: Now! Premiered January 10 on Fox
What: “The Spoils of Babylon”
Why: Um, why not? This new spoof of “epic TV miniseries adaptations” has a cast so good, we’d watch them do just about anything. Stars include Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell, Haley Joel Osmond (he sees funny people!), Val Kilmer, Tim Robbins and many more.
When: Now! Premiered January 9 on IFC.
What: Ali G: Rezurection
Why: Sure, Borat was funny, but Sasha Baron Cohen is at his very best when playing the original Ali G — his “rude-boy”-talking, ignorant, white boiii alter-ego. Unfortunately, these won’t be new episodes, but it’s been long enough that they’ll seem fresh all over again. Plus, Cohen will introduce each episode with new commentary.
When: Set for tentative February release on FXX.