What the Hell Happened to Jennifer Grey?
Grey co-starred opposite Rob Lowe in the romantic comedy, If the Shoe Fits. This TV movie was another retelling of the Cinderella story. This time, Grey was the lead rather than a wicked step-sister. She played a shoe designer who works as a seamstress for a self-important fashion Parisian fashion designer played by Lowe. Lowe is looking for a new model and holds a party to find her. Grey puts on a pair of magic shoes which change her into a stunning beauty who immediately captures Lowe’s heart.
The TV movies continued in 1991 when Grey starred in Eyes of a Witness. Grey played a doctor working in Kenya. Her father, played by Daniel J. Travanti, is worried about her safety and flies to Africa to try to convince her to return home. When the village Grey is working at is attacked by raiders, Grey’s father becomes a suspect in a murder trial. The only witness is a boy in the village who worries that if he testifies the raiders will attack his village again. Carl Lumbly and Eriq La Salle co-starred.
Grey returned to the big screen opposite Matthew Modine in the yachting drama, Wind.
Wind is based on events from the 1987 America’s Cup competition. Modine stars as a sailor who loses the 1984 World Cup to Australia. Determined to take home a victory, Modine puts his own team together which includes someone who kind of resembles Baby from Dirty Dancing with a less ethnic looking nose.
Director Carroll Ballard went to great lengths to present a realistic depiction of the sports. His efforts were not wasted on the many yachting fans in Australia. Critics also appreciated the film. Roger Ebert called Wind “exhilarating”. (Wikipedia lists the critical reaction as “mixed” no doubt based on the movie’s current 55% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but if you go back and read the top critics of the day, the reviews were mostly positive.) But American audiences couldn’t give a flip about boating or for that matter movies that star Matthew Modine.
Wind opened in sixth place at the box office behind Single White Female which had been in theaters for five weeks. In fairness, Single White Female was playing on nearly twice as many screens despite being fairly deep into its run. On the other hand, Hellraiser III opened on fewer screens than Wind and it managed a third place opening. All totaled, Wind grossed under $6 million dollars in the US on a budget over nearly $30 million.
1993 saw Grey return to TV movies with A Case For Murder. Peter Berg starred as a hot-shot defense attorney with a track record of winning cases that most consider to be unwinnable. When one of the lawyers in his firm is murdered, Berg takes on the case of defending the primary suspect, the deceased lawyer’s wife. Grey played an attorney who is new to the firm who helps Berg with his investigation. But as inconsistencies come to light, Grey begins to suspect that Berg might be the real killer.
Later that year, Grey made her Broadway debut in the dramedy, The Twilight of the Golds. Grey played an expectant mother who discovers through genetic testing that her unborn son is destined to be gay. She makes the decision to abort the baby rather than raise a gay son much to the dismay of her gay brother. The play was well-received during preview performances in California. But when it moved to Broadway, it got clobbered. The show only lasted 29 performances on the Great White Way.
A few years later, the play was adapted into a TV movie starring Jennifer Beals, Brendan Fraser, Gary Marshall, Faye Dunaway and Rosie O’Donnell. The TV movie version was given a different ending than the stage play.
Here we are just a few years after Dirty Dancing and Grey’s career is already DOA. She took a little time off from acting. When she returned in 1995, she tested the sitcom waters with a guest spot on Friends. She played Mindy, one of Jennifer Aniston’s friends who is now engaged to Barry, Aniston’s ex. When the two of them compare notes, they each discover that Barry has been unfaithful to them with the other friend.
I don’t know how many times I have seen that episode without realizing that was Grey playing Mindy. Here she was doing a guest-spot on a top-rated sitcom and you would never know it was her.
Incidentally, Aniston and Grey have both played Ferris Bueller’s sister, Jeanie. Grey obviously played the part in the movie, but Aniston assumed the role in the short-lived TV adaptation.