Jay Mohr's been around long enough to be taken for granted, yet he's not quite stuck in the pop-culture consciousness; he always seems this far from becoming a trivia answer in search of a question, which is less a knock on him than it is on the studio bosses who seem to have no idea how to use him. His was the inevitable route to fame for the stand-up who aspired to film: He joined the Saturday Night Live cast in 1993, suffered through the transitional year that saw Janeane Garofalo and Michael McKean slumming it, then hightailed it before the show got funny again. He left SNL, >got his bit part on a network sitcom (if one can call Jeff Foxworthy's show television, as it was more like radio), then showed up in Jerry Maguire just long enough to upstage Tom Cruise. Then, he worked with good people on bad projects (Moonlighting creator Glenn Gordon Caron's romance pic Picture Perfect, Denis Leary and Christopher Walken in Suicide Kings), started treating moviemaking like an ATM (Paulie) and became a bit player on the celebrity food chain. If you have no idea who Mohr is, it's because there exists in Hollywood a fine line between promising (Go) and threatening (200 Cigarettes).
Then, at the outset of the 1999-2000 TV season, Mohr took his revenge: As movie exec Peter Dragon on Fox's Action, he was the nastiest sumbitch in the Hollywood cesspool. He took a hooker as his lover (one whore deserves another), robbed screenwriters to pay Peter (Dragon) and generally acted a gleeful shit till Fox killed the show when there were still episodes to air. The last anyone saw of Peter D. was him flatlining in an ambulance--appropriate or ironic, same difference. It was the dream gig, playing the grinning nightmare man, but it was short-lived; last time Mohr was on Fox, he was drowning in the miniseries Black River. But fret not for the talented boy: He's got big parts in promising, upcoming films (among them director John McNaughton's marital-woes comedy Speaking of Sex); and he's back on the road, flexing the stand-up muscle. And he's always got that Fox Sunday-morning football pre-game gig to fall back on, but he deserves better. If you've seen it, so do you.