|THE MOVIE DETECTIVE: Whatever Happened to the Cast of “The Brothers McMullen”?|
By Mike McGranaghan, Film Critic
The Movie Detective is an occasional feature of Gamut! Magazine wherein our film critic, Mike McGranaghan, investigates cinematic mysteries.
The key was picking the right movie. I decided to choose my favorite independent film from 1995 – the year this website came into existence. That film was The Brothers McMullen. It made sense to choose this film for examination for several reasons. First, it won the Grand Prize at the Sundance Film Festival at a time when Sundance was finally coming onto the radar of the average American moviegoer. As a result, it became an independent hit, grossing an impressive $10 million at the box office. (Not bad on a budget of less than $25,000.) Second, I have written extensively about writer/director Edward Burns (and the film) on the internet and therefore have a solid knowledge of the film and its players. Last, but not least, I count this among my favorite movies of all time. Need I add that I’m an Irish Catholic?
Now that the groundwork has been laid, let’s find out what happened to the cast of The Brothers McMullen on the tenth anniversary of its release.
Edward Burns (Barry McMullen) - In addition to writing and directing, Burns (a former production assistant for “Entertainment Tonight”) cast himself in the lead role of Barry, one of three Irish Catholic brothers on Long Island. After the success of McMullen, Burns made another movie for Fox Searchlight called She’s the One. It mined some of the same territory but had the star power of Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Aniston. It too did about $10 million in business. Burns’ next film, a drama called No Looking Back, got lost amidst the financial problems of PolyGram Film Corporation, which soon went out of business. Without the advantage of promotion and publicity, the movie made just $143,000 on a budget of $5 million. A different type of problem plagued Burns’ next directorial outing, Sidewalks of New York - a Woody Allen-esque romantic comedy set in Manhattan. It had the misfortune of being scheduled to open week after the September 11 attacks. Paramount Classics bumped the release back two months, but audiences were not ready for a lighthearted romp around New York. Since then, Burns has had trouble finding distributors for his films. Despite co-starring Elijah Wood, the dark drama Ash Wednesday, played on only two screens in the United States, where it earned an abysmal total gross of $2,942 dollars. (It was released on DVD by Lions Gate and is worth checking out.) Ed’s most recent directorial effort, Looking for Kitty never did find a distributor, despite premiering at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival.
As an actor, Edward Burns has had more success. The Brothers McMullen brought him to the attention of Steven Spielberg, who cast him in a memorable role in the Oscar nominated Saving Private Ryan. He then co-starred alongside Robert DeNiro in the underrated thriller 15 Minutes and with Angelina Jolie in the dud Life or Something Like It. (The lack of chemistry between Burns and Jolie may be due to reports that they did not get along on set.) In addition to starring in his own films, Burns also did a turn in James Foley’s con-man drama Confidence, which also starred Dustin Hoffman, Andy Garcia, and Paul Giamatti. A Sound of Thunder - an expensive science fiction epic co-starring Ben Kingsley – was supposed to be Burns’ next film, but Warner Brothers has continually bumped the released date for more than a year, suggesting they have little faith in the finished product. More recently, Edward Burns co-wrote the screenplay for 20th Century Fox’s Flight of the Phoenix remake and had a recurring role as Debra Messing’s boyfriend on “Will & Grace.” Within the next year, he will appear in The River King (based on the Alice Hoffman novel) as well as an untitled football drama which his company is producing.
Mike McGlone (Patrick McMullen) - McGlone probably benefited most (at least in the short term) from working with Burns, as the director cast him in a major role in She’s the One. Once again, they played Irish Catholic brothers, only this time the characters were more antagonistic toward each other. McGlone then had supporting roles in the Matt LeBlanc monkey baseball comedy Ed and the crime drama One Tough Cop with Stephen Baldwin and Chris Penn. In 1999, he played a cop in the high profile Denzel Washington/Angelina Jolie thriller The Bone Collector, which was a moderate box office hit. With the exception of 2001’s Hardball (an inner city baseball drama starring Keanu Reeves), McGlone has mostly appeared in independent productions over the past five years. These include Happy Accidents with Marisa Tomei and Vincent D’Onofrio; Dinner Rush with Danny Aiello; and the unreleased Get Well Soon with Courteney Cox. He did, however, have a recurring role in the short-lived TV series “That’s Life” which starred Paul Sorvino and Ellen Burstyn. In 2005, he will have a starring role in yet another indie production entitled Dirty Work.
Maxine Bahns (Audrey) - For the role of his character’s love interest, Burns cast his real-life girlfriend. He repeated this strategy by casting her in the same role in She’s the One. Shortly after that movie’s release, the two broke up, essentially ending Bahns’ big-screen career. Since that time, she has been in no major motion pictures, although she has popped up in a few ultra-low budget efforts that nobody saw, such as Chick Flick, Spin Cycle, and Cutaway, with Tom Berenger and Dennis Rodman. (You know your career is in trouble when you co-star alongside Dennis Rodman.) Bahns has no known films on her resume since 2000. In 2004 however, according to Internet Movie Database, Bahns did sue another ex-boyfriend – “Sex and the City” cast member Jason Lewis – for $130,000 after he failed to repay a loan. No word on whether or not she reclaimed her money. Her most recent acting appearance was a 2004 Jaguar commercial. Now married to Peter Crone, Bahns is reportedly training for two triathlons: Ironman Coeur d'Alene (in June 2005) and Ironman Hawaii (in October 2005). You’ll also find her as an occasional cover model on health and fitness magazines.
Connie Britton (Molly) - After playing the role of a loving woman married to the eldest McMullen brother, Burns cast Connie Britton again in No Looking Back. She then landed a supporting role on the successful Michael J. Fox sitcom “Spin City.” Her character, Nikki, eventually became the love interest for Fox’s character. After four years on that series, the actress appeared opposite Brian Dennehy in “The Fighting Fitzgeralds,” a short-lived NBC sitcom developed by Burns. Additional TV work followed – most notably a recurring role on four episodes of “The West Wing” – as well as a few straight-to-video features. In 2004, Britton once again appeared in a major motion picture, snagging a small supporting role in the Billy Bob Thornton football drama Friday Night Lights.
Jack Mulcahy (Jack McMullen) - While most cast members of The Brothers McMullen were new to feature films, Jack Mulcahy previously played Frank Bell in both Porky’s and its sequel, Porky’s II: The Next Day. After McMullen, he had small roles in several obscure movies like The Cottonwood and Infested. Mulcahy appeared in a 2000 episode of “Law and Order” and an August 2004 episode of the soap opera “One Life to Live.” He also portrayed Wesley - the brother of Kristin Davis' character - on a second season episode of "Sex and the City." He has worked extensively on stage, co-starring alongside Tony winner Cady Huffman in Blake Edwards' "Big Rosemary." Additionally, he starred in the long-running (17 years and counting) off-Broadway play "Perfect Crime."
Mulcahy, who was kind enough to cooperate on this article, also has numerous upcoming projects in the works. Beginning in June, he will be involved in a radio program entitled "The Tea Broadcasting Co." which will run on Sirius Satellite radio. Jack will be writing, producing, starring, and singing original songs. He will also produce and star in a sitcom called "Meet the McGillicuddy's." In the show, Mulcahy plays Paddy McGillicuddy, whom the actor describes as "the widower patriarch of an Irish family of five who decides to leave the old sod and make a go of it in the 'New World'." On stage, he is producing and starring in a play called "PrimeTime" - "a comedy about conspicuous consumption in America" - that is scheduled to open off-Broadway sometime in the fall.
Jennifer Jostyn (Leslie) - Although her character was only a supporting one in McMullen, this actress has actually had one of the busiest careers of anyone in the cast. Television work has included appearances on “Gilmore Girls,” “The Drew Carey Show” and “NYPD Blue” as well as a two-episode stint on “ER” in 2003. Film work has included well-known movies (Deep Impact, Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses) and not-so-well-known movies (Rancid, Maximum Velocity). Jostyn recently co-wrote and produced a 2005 comedy called Life Coach: The Movie.
Elizabeth McKay (Ann) - The actress who played temptress Ann (who lured married Jack into an affair) has only one known film credit to her name post-McMullen: a 1997 comedy called Brokers.
Shari Albert (Susan) - The role of Patrick’s shrewish girlfriend Susan was filled by actress Shari Albert, who worked with Ed Burns in No Looking Back and again in 2004 in the unreleased Looking For Kitty. She had a very small role in the 1998 Warner Brothers musical Why Do Fools Fall in Love and in Stacy Cochran’s Drop Back Ten. You’re more likely to have seen Albert on the small screen, where she has appeared on “Law and Order” and “The King of Queens.”
As you can tell, the careers of the McMullen cast have varied. Some have continued to due high-profile work (most notably Burns himself), while others have toiled in films that have remained largely unseen. Television has provided some additional exposure for a few cast members. It’s quite possible that a couple of them will pop up again soon. (Personally, I wouldn’t count out Connie Britton, considering that, for better or worse, she’s continually found work.)
It’s important to remember that, while some of the actors have had more noticeable opportunities than others, it’s not the size of the box office that really matters in the long run. These actors came together a decade ago to work on a little film that reached a sizable audience – a film that many people still watch today. What the future holds for them remains to be seen, but certainly they can all be proud to have The Brothers McMullen on their resumes.
Note: Box office figures, resume titles, and biographical information for this report were obtained via the invaluable Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com). My gratitude goes out to them. Current information regarding Jack Mulcahy comes from the actor himself. I appreciate his generosity in cooperating on this article.
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