MAURA TIERNEY

MAURA TIERNEY

I was sorry to read this week that Maura Tierney is ill. The nature of her illness has not been disclosed, as far as I know, and that is a good thing – especially in view of the recent excesses in the reporting on the illnesses and deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. If Maura Tierney can keep the details of her health to herself — or at least be allowed to reveal them when, how, and if she chooses, there may still be a chance for civilization.

Her illness will cause an eight-week delay in production of “Parenthood,” an NBC project that is based on a 1989 film by that name. I am not a big television fan, but I was a devotee of “ER,” and Maura Tierney was one reason for that. With “ER” off the air, I have been left with “Seinfeld” reruns, baseball in season, Charlie Rose, and the occasional film on American Movie Classics. My sense is that if Maura Tierney thinks “Parenthood” is a worthwhile project, it will be worth a look.

I hope the fact that Tierney has signed on to another television series doesn’t mean she won’t pursue her stage career. She has appeared in two off-Broadway shows — Neil LaBute’s “Some Girl(s)” in 2006 and Nicky Silver’s “Three Changes” in 2008. We saw both — particularly because Tierney was in the casts. I don’t know how these plays were received critically, but they clearly established that Tierney has a feel for the stage and can make a live audience accept her character — in fact, to want more of it.

MAURA TIERNEY Wireimage Photo

MAURA TIERNEY Wireimage Photo

There’s something quirky — one might almost say broken — about Tierney, and from what I’ve read it isn’t an act. It certainly is appealing. She evidently doesn’t lack for composure, however, because she apparently is a good poker player. That fits with one aspect of her genius as an actress — her ability to project a wide range of emotions with a much narrower range of expressions. We saw that often in “ER,” and it also serves her well on stage. In fact, one of the way she fascinates me is by so often making me wonder, “What is she really thinking.”

Be well, Maura Tierney.