Television has traditionally been the poorer cousin as far as Hollywood has been concerned, the place to go when actors can't get work on the big screen. Stars who began their careers on TV - Tom Hanks, Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx - aimed for the glamour and monstrous pay cheques, and pretty much never looked back. But television shows are now looking increasingly attractive to movie stars, who are wearying of the shoddy movie fare they're being offered. And hey, it's regular work, and in Hollywood that's everything. More A-list stars are signing to high-profile TV shows. James Woods brings his flinty persona to a new legal drama, Shark, whose pilot is directed by Spike Lee. 'I've been lamenting the horrible state of the movie industry the past few years,' Woods told the Los Angeles Times earlier this year. Many stars seem at home on a 22-episode TV series: James Caan's unflappable casino president in Las Vegas; Kyra Sedgwick's portrayal of a deputy police chief on The Closer has won numerous accolades; while the untouchable Glenn Close had Hollywood abuzz when she signed to do The Shield. The addition of a big movie name to a new series brings it the patina of credibility, although that doesn't guarantee anything in Tinseltown. In 2003, Whoopi Goldberg played a hotel owner in Whoopi. She was sassy and politically incorrect - not too much of a stretch - but the show lasted six months before being unceremoniously dumped. Geena Davis, whose pouty good looks and immaculate cheekbones served her well as the country's first female president in Commander in Chief, still couldn't save the series, which was over before it really began. Alicia Silverstone, the one-time ingenue who made America fall in love with her role in the movie Clueless, played a divorce lawyer-cum-matchmaker in Miss Match, which also didn't last long. Although Silverstone, not one to be discouraged, is jumping back onto the bandwagon with The Singles Table, a new series reportedly out next year about five strangers who become friends after sitting on the singles table at a friend's wedding. And Anne Heche, who was in movies such as Wag the Dog, John Q and Psycho, and has drifted in and out of television over the years, is now settling into her starring role on the new fun hit dramedy, Men in Trees. It probably doesn't hurt that entertainment critics generally agree that as the quality of movies plummets, television drama is getting better. Movie stars are thrilled to make cameo appearances on their favourite shows: Malcolm McDowell, Martin Landau, Jessica Alba and James Cameron have all popped up on the immensely popular Entourage, while Brooke Shields and Jacqueline Bisset have cameos in the saucy plastic surgery series Nip/Tuck. With new autumn series lined up (the heart-stopping Kidnapped, the incisive Studio 60 on Sunset Strip and Grey's Anatomy), casting directors are fielding more calls from agents. This trend is not going to reverse anytime soon. When even the hottest stars in Hollywood are seeing doors shut on them (Tom Cruise!), television is looking an attractive option. Imagine: Cruise and J.Lo as a sparring couple on a weekly sitcom. Now that will be something worth watching.