What do Leighton Meester, Katherine Heigl, Kristen Bell, Katie Holmes and Zac Efron all have in common (other than constant stalking by the paparazzi)? They all started out on shows on The CW, or, in pre-CW days, the WB or UPN.
With 'Gossip Girl''s Meester hitting theaters this weekend in 'The Roommate,' this seems as good an occasion as any to review how other stars of The CW, et al, have fared on the big screen, if they made it that far. Some stars are bouncing back to TV, while others never really left. (We love ya, David Boreanaz, but not even die-hard fans who campaigned to save 'Angel' shelled out to see you in 'Valentine.')
15. Alexis Bledel *
'Gilmore Girls' 2000–2007
She's certainly not a big marquee name, but Bledel has been a steady big-screen presence. During 'Gilmore Girls,' she found time to appear in 'Sin City,' 'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,' 'Bride and Prejudice' and 'Tuck Everlasting.' The future is only looking brighter for her with roles in Robert Redford's 'The Conspirator,' the chick assassin flick 'Violet and Daisy' and the ensemble comedy 'Girl Walks Into a Bar.'
14. Leslie Bibb *
Bibb has yet to headline a film, but she's supported some big names. She was bumped off by Gerard Butler in 'Law Abiding Citizen,' slept with Robert Downey Jr. in 'Iron Man' and married Will Ferrell in 'Talladega Nights.' Coming up, the comedy 'Zookeeper' and she'll team up again with Downey Jr. in the all-star superhero epic 'The Avengers.' Her first big movie, by the way, was 'The Skulls,' with fellow WB star Joshua Jackson.
13. James Van Der Beek *
'Dawson's Creek' 1998–2003
A quick perusal of his recent film credits turns up none that we remember playing at our local multiplex. And 2002's 'The Rules of Attraction' probably proved more of a launching point for 'Vampire Diaries' star Ian Somerhalder, thanks to his dancing-in-his-underwear scene. 'Varsity Blues' was a hit, but many of Van Der Beek's post-Dawson films, like the long-in-limbo 'Texas Rangers,' have gone straight to DVD.
12. Joshua Jackson *
'Dawson's Creek' 1998–2003
It took a while for us to think of Jackson as anyone other than Pacey; now we're loving him so much as Peter on 'Fringe' that we've nearly forgotten that he's had a solid movie career long before either show. Remember him in 'The Mighty Ducks' movies, not to mention 'Scream 2,' 'Apt Pupil,' 'Urban Legend' and 'Cruel Intentions?' And he got top billing for 'The Skulls' (2000) and 'Shutter' (2008).
11. Blake Lively
'Gossip Girl' 2007–2011
Box office total (5): $211,990,148/ Average: $42,398,030
Lively's not doing too badly: She earned great marks for her turn as a party girl in 'The Town,' and she plays 'Green Lantern''s love interest later this summer. And, pre-'Gossip Girl,' she'd already scored a big-screen ensemble hit with 'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.'
10. Amanda Peet
'Jack and Jill' 1999–2001
Box office total (23): $723,341,438/Average: $31,449,628
Wow, we kind of forgot Peet used to be on the WB. These days, we think of her more for her roles in '2012,' 'Something's Gotta Give,' 'The Whole Nine Yards' and 'Igby Goes Down.' She also played Matt Damon's wife in 'Syriana,' worked with Woody Allen in 'Melinda and Melinda' and made the seemingly obligatory rom-com opposite Ashton Kutcher ('A Lot Like Love.')
9. Scott Speedman *
He's been irresistible to women in both TV and the movies: We'd probably switch colleges and put up with some werewolf activity if we thought we stood a chance with him. Speedman's big-screen roles, apart from the 'Underworld' series, haven't made a huge splash, but we loved the super-scary 'The Strangers' and his unexpected appearance in last year's acclaimed indie 'Barney's Version.'
8. Keri Russell *
We don't understand why Russell's charming girl-next-door persona didn't immediately result in film after film like 2007's sweet 'Waitress.' She's definitely been busy (even before 'Felicity,' she was in 'Honey, I Blew Up the Kid'), with 'Mission: Impossible III' and 'August Rush,' but Russell could easily have been the next Reese Witherspoon. Instead, she's playing "the wife" in movies like 'Extraordinary Measures.' What gives, Hollywood?
7. Sarah Michelle Gellar
'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' 1997–2003
Box office total (13): $627,388,241/Average: $48,260,634
Gellar's big-screen career looked promising: She starred in 'Cruel Intentions' and 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' while still on TV. But after 'Buffy,' she only scored hits with 'The Grudge' and those awful 'Scooby Doo' movies. 'Southland Tales' made a measly $275,380 at the box office, which was still better than 2002's 'Harvard Man' ($56,653 total). So we're happy to hear that she's headed back to TV as troubled twins in 'Ringer.' (You do know she started off on 'All My Children,' right?)
6. Kristen Bell
'Veronica Mars' 2004–2007
Box office total (8): $291,028,541/Average: $36,378,568
Tart-tongued Veronica was a great start for Bell, whose entry into the big leagues was with the prerequisite crappy horror film (2006's 'Pulse'), followed by a breakout comedy ('Forgetting Sarah Marshall'), and then some not-so-great movies ('When in Rome,' 'Couples Retreat') that people nevertheless still went to see. We await her turn in 'Scream 4,' a series -- might we point out -- created by Kevin Williamson, who also created WB mainstay 'Dawson's Creek.' She'll also be returning to TV soon, having just lined up the Showtime series 'House of Lies.'
5. Jessica Biel
'7th Heaven' 1996–2006
Box office total (17): $640,192,371/Average: $37,658,375
Unlike, say, Jessica Alba, Biel is one of those "hot" actresses who (sometimes) actually makes movies we want to see. She paid her dues in 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,' was impressively buff in 'Blade: Trinity,' shared the screen with Oscar-nominee Edward Norton in 'The Illusionist' and brought Bradley Cooper to his knees in 'The A-Team.' Sure, those weren't all so great, but we're looking forward to her starring opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in David O. Russell's 'Nailed.'
4. Zac Efron
Box office total (5): $305,950,882/Average: $61,190,176
This short-lived WB series is merely a blip compared to 'High School Musical,' which launched him into the stratosphere and the cover of every 'Tiger Beat.' Once the third HSM film went to theaters, Efron never looked back: He took a supporting part in 'Hairspray,' wisely turned down another musical (the 'Footloose' remake) and won over non-HSM fans with '17 Again.' He makes his bid for dramatic cred with the upcoming military drama 'The Lucky One.' (The less said about 'Charlie St. Cloud,' the better.)
3. Katie Holmes
'Dawson's Creek' 1998–2003
Box office total (11): $578,627,761/Average: $26,359,617
For a moment, let's forget for about her husband, what her daughter's wearing and the bad buzz she got at this year's Sundance. Holmes has had a pretty impressive film career, from cool indies like 'Go' and 'Pieces of April,' to working with Oscar-winning directors ('Wonder Boys,' 'The Ice Storm') and, of course, 'Batman Begins.' Sure, Holmes was replaced in 'The Dark Knight' and hasn't had a film hit since becoming Mrs. Cruise, but she has a number of projects in the pipeline, including 'Jack and Jill,' with Adam Sandler, and 'The Son of No One,' with Al Pacino.
2. Katherine Heigl
Box office total (15): $395,394,249/Average: $52,602,524
Before 'Grey's Anatomy,' Heigl was just another alien stranded in New Mexico on this WB series. And before that, she already had a busy film career ('Bride of Chucky') so getting back on the big screen was a no-brainer. She hit the big time with 'Knocked Up,' and soon she was everywhere. Her movies ('Killers,' 'The Ugly Truth') have kind of sucked, but we don't see her returning to TV anytime soon.
1. Michelle Williams
'Dawson's Creek' 1998-2003
Box office total: (20) $389,452,637 /Average: $19,472,632
Since leaving "the Creek," Williams has opted for low-budget indies like 'I'm Not There' and 'The Station Agent,' slowly building her credibility as an actress. She landed her first Oscar nomination for 'Brokeback Mountain' and is currently nominated for 'Blue Valentine.' The closest thing to a popcorn movie she's ever done is last year's 'Shutter Island,' but since it was with Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, we'd say she's yet to sell out. The Academy took a while to invite her to join after her first nomination, but if there was any industry bias against her for starting out on TV, it seems to be a thing of the past.
* (Not ranked by BoxOfficeMojo.com)