Mischa Barton Returns to Television, Acting Coach to Follow

While it’s certainly not on the level of George Clooney going back to ER for the last time—about Mr. Clooney, he’s so comfortable playing Dr. Doug Ross that he can do it in his sleep, which he literally did during his cameo appearance—it looks like Mischa Barton is returning to a television near you. The lanky actress has signed on to play an aging supermodel in the Ashton Kutcher–produced CW pilot A Beautiful Life, which as far as we can tell has nothing to do with the Ace of Base song of the same name (though we can hope the show uses that for its theme). The news of Ms. Barton’s casting all but confirms that she won’t be appearing in The CW’s reboot of Melrose Place, which had been rumored for quite some time. As The Hollywood Reporter ominously notes, a role on that pilot never “materialized.” Perhaps her agent can call Scotty in the engine room to see what happened.

Since leaving The O.C. in a fit of Shannen Doherty–inspired rage in 2006, one season before that series shuttered its doors for good, Ms. Barton has worked fairly steadily. But to say her career has been going pretty well would be generous. The former Marissa Cooper has starred in a rash of limited release or direct-to-DVD movies, all of which seem to mostly revolve around her playing a high school ingénue or drive-by lesbian (titles include: Virgin Territory, St. Trinian’s and Homecoming). As O.C. fanatics, we’ll pretty much apologize for anything the former cast members do—speaking of which, Ben McKenzie, we’ll see you on April 9 for the premiere of Southland!—but we’re not exactly sure Ms. Barton’s post-show career could have gone anywhere else. It’s not that she’s just a bad actress; Ms. Barton is breathtakingly bad. (She makes Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively look like the daughter of Meryl Streep and Al Pacino, and we have pieces of furniture that can emote more convincingly.) Even winding up on what we assume will be the failed incarnation of Melrose Place wouldn’t have suited her talents. Could anyone take Ms. Barton seriously as a Heather Locklear–esque femme fatale? Though we have serious questions about whether A Beautiful Life will even get past the pilot stage, this role seems ideal for her skill set. We’re pretty sure Ms. Barton can handle playing a former star whose career isn’t what it used to be.

Meanwhile, we hope this news nudges both Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson into finding another television series post-haste. Come on guys, we’re waiting… Mischa Barton Returns to Television, Acting Coach to Follow