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‘Slayground’: The Hits and Misses of Peter Coyote

‘Slayground’: The Hits and Misses of Peter Coyote (photo)

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In Slayground (which airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET) Peter Coyote plays a thief on the run after a burglary turns into an accidental murder. While the movie never made many waves, it is a fitting milieu for Peter Coyote, who rather undeservedly has also not made that many waves, despite having been an actor for over twenty years.

He’s been in some great films, that should have catapulted him at least into the Ian McKellan or William H. Macy realm, but for some reason, Mr. Coyote seems stuck in the same orbit as Vincent D’Onofrio. In honor of Slayground airing on IFC, we’re taking a quick survey of the career of Peter Coyote.

E.T. was one of the most important films of its generation. It was in turns funny, scary and magical. And while Peter Coyote didn’t have a big role, the part should have been a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Or at least bigger and better Steven Spielberg movies.

Instead he went on to roles in Slayground, The Legend of Billie Jean (Helen Slater is another star with an inexplicable career path), and Jagged Edge, before eventually landing one of the leads in Bitter Moon. In that film, Peter Coyote got to work with acclaimed director (now, fugitive) Roman Polanski alongside Hugh Grant, Kristin Scott Thomas, and French beauty Emmanuelle Seigner. This should have been his big break into Hollywood stardom, like it was for Hugh Grant:

Instead of catapulting him into the realms of stardom, he went onto play parts in not very exciting television shows (does anyone even remember Buffalo Girls?) and (gasp!) made for tv movies. Not to disparage an actor getting a paycheck, but in the words of Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, Peter Coyote coulda been a contender. Eventually Mr. Coyote got cast in Michael Crichton’s Sphere:

But the role of Capt. Harold C. Barnes lead to more tv movies and (sigh…) Patch Adams. Then there was another string of made-for-tv movies before he was cast in A Walk to Remember, which may have been a Mandy Moore vehicle based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, but was a big hit, which lead to his best role yet. Okay, not really, but as JJL Chief Bloomenbergensteinenthal in The Hebrew Hammer Peter Coyote explored his right to be silly and he managed it with the aplomb and dignity required for the role. Shabbat Shalom, MotherF@#kers!

Peter Coyote appears to have come into his own in television shows. After his role in The Hebrew Hammer, he got a part in the tragically abbreviated Deadwood. He has done excellent work in The 4400, Commander in Chief, and he was on Brothers & Sisters. After roles in almost every incarnation of Law & Order, now he has been cast as the slightly skeevy district attorney in Law & Order: Los Angeles. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Slayground airs on IFC at 8 p.m. ET

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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