The Many Faces of Mike O'Malley
What TV Viewers don't know about this Hollywood star

Asleek, black, chauffeured town car glides up to the immense, glittering facade of Hollywood's Kodak Theatre, the new home of the Academy Awards.

Mike O'Malley '88, star of the hit sitcom, "Yes, Dear," emerges and is ushered toward a carpeted entryway cordoned off with black velvet ropes. He flashes a smile for the cadre of photographers. Fans shout out his name, and O'Malley signs a few autographs before ducking into the building.

Tonight's CBS party, a mixer for critics and network stars, is underground in the vast Kodak complex, in the fabulously hip Lucky Strike bowling alley. The room swirls with odd couples as self-assured actors court bookish television critics. Ted Danson talks to a Midwestern newspaperwoman with horn-rimmed glasses about his show, "Becker." A radio host corners Charlie Sheen, who headlines the new series "Two and a Half Men." Bite-sized strawberry parfaits are served in crystal aperitif glasses, and guests sip trendy Cosmopolitan cocktails and mineral water. The critics indulge while the stars--especially the waifish starlets--largely ignore the bacchanalian spread. Every mouth is in motion, rapid-fire, amidst the din of techno-pop and crashing bowling pins.

O'Malley's ever-present baseball cap bobs above the commotion. He chats up Robert Bianco of USA Today. Tonight he is working, grabbing elbows, making eye contact, cracking jokes. If you know him, you can tell this is the part of his job he could do without. He's more comfortable talking baseball with the limo driver than pleasing the paparazzi. But he knows how to play the game and he's a pro: it took 15 years of playing it well to get where he is today, a co-star in the cornerstone show of CBS's top-ranked Monday night lineup. In addition to his success as a television actor, O'Malley has hosted game shows and has written and produced several plays. He has appeared in movies with Billy Bob Thornton, John Cusack and Sandra Bullock. He spent last week in Chicago golfing in Bill Murray's annual tournament. He owns a beautiful home in Hollywood, and best of all, he and his wife, Lisa, are the proud parents of 9-month-old Fiona. Life, as they say, is good.

Life was not nearly this good four years ago. In the fall of 1999, "The Mike O'Malley Show," which O'Malley wrote and headlined, was dumped by NBC after just two episodes. The critics were harsh ("a comedy vacuum," wrote one) and the vilification hit especially close to home since the material came from O'Malley's own life: after his best friend gets married, a 30-year-old bachelor (O'Malley) decides to grow up. At the time, O'Malley wasn't sure he'd ever act again, but he took the setback without whining and learned from the experience.

"It was a pretty big flop. But you're foolish if you think it won't happen to you," he says. "It happens to 40 shows a year. Cancellation is part of the business, and you have to roll with it." And, he adds, "I was an unknown guy who got paid a million dollars to do that show. It would be crass to complain about it."

From left, Mike O'Malley '88 with Sandra Bullock in "28 Days;" in "Yes, Dear" with supermodel Heidi Klum; and with the "Yes, Dear" kids and co-stars. Photos from right: Monty Brinton with CBS, K.C. Bailey with 28 Days and Monty Brinton with CBS.

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