He was a big deal once upon a time. Then the genre-expanding series ended. And Travanti moved on to films. And his career crashed like Quark on a Power Mac 9600. Two-dimensional roles in bad movies, with Travanti trying way too hard to hit one out of Oscar park.
And then he was gone.
It seems that he’s been doing some serious theater work of late. I would have loved to have seen him as Con Melody in A Touch of the Poet — the Lear of Irish-American theater. (Love O’Neill. Love Irish and Irish-American drama in general. Now imagine Eugene O’Neill writing an episode of Mad Men! Not as wacky as it sounds. Who knew pretense better? And if William Faulkner could write for Hollywood…)
But aside from wanting to see Travanti on the small screen again, I think he’d have some useful advice for Jon Hamm, who, of course, plays Don Draper on MM. Hamm is this generation’s Travanti, only without the Emmys (at least so far). I’ve been watching Season One again, in anticipation of Season…Four? Five? Who knows. It seems like there’s been 14 Middle Eastern dictatorships come and gone since the last season. Anyway, man is Hamm good in that role.
But outside Draper, what has Hamm done? A lot. Almost all of it silly or downright forgettable. Liz Lemon’s boyfriend on 30 Rock? That show can be damn funny, but Hamm’s performance was so flat I thought Alec Baldwin had reprised the role of Blake and stomped him to death, waving a set of steak knives. Or some … guy in that unintentionally risible remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still? Sucker Punch?
I’d like to think that the 71-year-old Travanti would take Hamm out to lunch and let him know how easily it can all go away with too many of the wrong choices.
And that would be a shame.