Laura Dern Recalls Her Post-'Ellen' Career Slump

It's been a full decade since 90's sitcom staple Ellen did the nearly unthinkable, outing its star and protagonist to the world as co-stars Joely Fisher and a husky, pre-laser-depilated Jeremy Piven were left to pick up the lesbian-punchline pieces. The groundbreaking two-parter co-starred Laura Dern as Ellen's romantic interest. Sadly, their climactic liplock would also turn out to be the kiss of career death:

Dern, 40, recounted [on Ellen] Monday how she couldn't get an acting job for more than a year afterward. "There was certainly backlash, I guess, (that) we all felt from it," she told DeGeneres, who said she was sorry and "had no idea" that Dern was snubbed in Hollywood.

Not getting work felt "awfully terrifying," recalled Dern, who said she's grateful for the "extraordinary experience and opportunity" to be a part of the groundbreaking episode.

Her tale could help shed some light on what might have been going through the mind of the manager recently accused of having yanked her up-and-coming hearththrob client from Heroes before his character could discover that he was born with the extraordinary power to enjoy Christina Aguilera music and correctly guess the carb content of any food. As Dern testifies, the practice of pinkballing is no Hollywood myth; perhaps said manager was concerned that ten years wasn't nearly enough time to reverse the deep-seated prejudices that forced a celebrated hetero actress to be passed over for roles by narrow-minded casting directors insisting, "Can't we go with someone, I dunno, less sitcom-dykey?"