Tag: zach gilford

L.A.’s Finest (NBC) pilot preview: Lethal Weapon Female Edition

Written and executive produced by Brandon Margolis (The Blacklist) & Brandon Sonnier (The Blacklist). Based on Bad Boys movie. Also produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI, Lucifer, Cold Case, Without a Trace), Doug Belgrad, Gabrielle Union, Jeff GaspinJonathan Littman and KristieAnne ReedJeff Morrone. For NBC, Sony Pictures Television, Jerry Bruckheimer Productions, 2.0 Entertainment & Primary Wave. 65 pages. 1/12/2018 draft.

Description: free-spirited former DEA agent Syd Burnett has a fresh start in her new job as an LAPD detective. She’s partnered with Nancy McKenna, a working mom who can’t help but look at Syd’s freedom with some grass-is-greener envy. These two have totally different lifestyles and approaches, but they both are at the top of their fields. But Nancy soon learns that Syd’s unapologetic lifestyle may be masking a greater personal secret…

With Gabrielle Union (Bad Boys II, Being Mary Jane, 10 Things I Hate About You), Jessica Alba (Sin City, The Fantastic Four, Dark Angel, Flipper) Ernie Hudson (Grace and Frankie, APB), Zach Gilford (The Family, Friday Night Lights), Duane Martin (Scream 2, All Of Us), Ryan McPartlin (Chuck, Devious Maids, Passions)…

  

You’ll like it if you already like: Bad Boys, Lethal Weapon

Likely timeslots: monday at 10 after The Voice, wednesday at 8.

 

Among the trends in this year’s pilot season, there’s the female partnering. Our Bad Boys spin-off fits perfectly in this category, as well as Cagney & Lacey‘s reboot for CBS, ABC comedies Most Likely To & Man of the House, CBS’s I Mom So Hard & Chiefs, and The CW’s big bet on Charmed, The End of the World as We Know It and Supernatural‘s offshoot Wayward Sisters. Whether it’s a #MeToo consequence or something that was bound to happen no matter what, it’s a great year for actresses on broadcast networks, especially those on the diversity spectrum, and the casting war is in full force. NBC definitely has with Gabrielle Union & back-from-the-dead Jessica Alba the strongest pairing out there! A series pick-up is looming on the horizon. But is this pilot worth their talent and worth our time?

First things first: who’s this Syd Burnett in the Bad Boys‘ universe we’re not all familiar with? ‘cos let’s be honest: this franchise that started in 1995 is not exactly fresh and there are talks about a third movie for ages but they can’t get it off the ground for some reason. I guess a lot of relatively young people never heard of it, and that might be a problem. Special Agent Sydney “Syd” Burnett, introduced in the sequel Bad Boys II in 2003, is the sister of Detective Lieutenant Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) who was romantically involved with Marcus’ partner, Detective Lieutenant Mike Lowrey (Will Smith). At the time, she was an undercover operative with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Clearly, there was no urge or any demand to make something around this character and from what we know, the idea of this TV series comes from Primary Wave Entertainment, which manages Gabrielle Union. I could get cynical here but I won’t. She’s great, we need more shows with black empowered women at the center, especially now Scandal is soon-to-be gone. And yes, it’s another spin-off/ reboot and we’re fed up with them but that’s the way it works now, networks are desperate and bla bla bla. It’ll change someday…

Bad Girls -that’s the tentative title but NBC also has Good Girls so unless it gets canceled, they’ll have to change it- is exactly the female buddy cop show you’d expect from the logline. If you’re looking for something in the vein of Lethal Weapon, well they’re your girls! There’s a lot of action, funny dialogues right in the middle of a life-and-death situations, a dose of family scenes when it comes to McKenna’s intimacy with her husband and step-kids where Syd is invited to join but don’t feel capable of because she has issues, and of course a distracting case of the week. The writers chose to deal with the kidnapping of a young boy with his mother and our investigators looking for him, betting on the maternal instinct of both the heroines and the viewers. They know exactly what they’re doing, obviously aiming at a female audience pushing all the right buttons, when Lethal Weapon is more male-friendly. It’s not manipulative. I’d say it’s fair game. But it’s also a bit too easy and expected. With actresses that are so beautiful and sexy -and characters that are written not to be threatening to other women- it’s not leaving a male audience behind, on the contrary. The potential is big.

The show is less effective when it comes to the emotional ongoing story about Syd’s past, that almost doesn’t feel needed and more like the writers’ saying “we’re not just a procedural!” To sum it up in a few words: Syd was tortured and left for dead. What happened to her back then? She wants to find the man who wanted to kill her and that’s the reason why she came to Los Angeles in the first place. Honestly, this part of the pilot is the least interesting, it’s not subtle at all and the cliffhanger is somehow disturbing, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, it depends a lot on how they’ll handle it in the future. In my opinion, it would have been more interesting as a mid-season or end-of-the-season cliffhanger. It throws a dark shadow over the Burnett/McKenna duo that is unnecessary so early in the show’s life, especially since they really work well together on paper. It adds layers to the characters from an individual perspective but they could have done it differently.

If you’re asking about the men characters in the show, let’s just say they are mostly used as a comic relief for now. LAPD homicide detective Ben Walker (Zach Gilford) is a smart man with a smarter mouth who comes from money, while LAPD homicide detective Ben Baines (Duane Martin) is also described as smart and competitive. They’re both referred to as “the Bens.” And don’t be afraid, they’re not here to rescue the girls and save the day. By the way, a door is left open for Martin Lawrence’s Marcus to return if the actor feels like to at some point (and doesn’t ask for too much money). We’re said he’s in Cuba and always ready to help Syd if she asks for it… Having him for a few episodes would certainly translate into a ratings’ surge. It’s even more true with Mike’s Will Smith, but he’s barely mentioned.

Bad Girls is an action-packed, humoristic, character-driven procedural that hits the right spot at the right time and comes off as a no-brainer pick-up for NBC. It’s very much Lethal Weapon Female Edition, though it might be a little darker; it rarely surprises you but it’s doing the job with wit and efficiency, embarking you quite easily on this journey. You almost forget it’s a spin-off! 

“The Family” (ABC) pilot preview: the family soap you won’t even feel guilty about loving!

ORIGINALSIN

Previously entitled Flesh & Blood and Original Sin. Written & produced by Jenna Bans (Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Scandal, Private Practice, Off the Map). Co-produced by David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman (Monk, Fighter, Warm Bodies, The Proposal) & Laurie Zaks (Castle). Directed by Paul McGuigan (Sherlock, Monroe, Devious Maids). For ABC, ABC Studios & Mandeville Prods. 63 pages.

Description: It’s been ten years since 9-year-old Adam Warren disappeared from Red Pines, Maine and the world has changed a lot in his absence. His mother, Claire, who was then just starting her first City Council campaign, has been elected mayor. His father, John, is now the bestselling author of “Grieving with Grace” a book series on coping with loss. Adam’s siblings, Danny and Willa, who were supposed to be watching Adam at the time, have each dealt with their guilt in their own way. So, when a young man appears in Red Pines claiming to be Adam, it throws everyone into a tailspin. The man sitting in jail for Adam’s supposed death is released as Nina Meyer, the cop responsible of the investigation, is forced to reexamine what truly happened so many years ago….

With Joan Allen (The Killing US, Luck, Face/Off, Hatchi, The Bourne Identity), Rupert Graves (Sherlock Last Tango in Hallifax, The White Queen, V for Vendetta), Margot Bingham (Boarwalk Empire, Matador), Alison Pill (The Newsroom, In Treatment, The Pillars of the Earth, Harvey Milk), Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights, Off the Map, The Mob Doctor, The Purge: Anarchy), Liam James (The Killing US, Psych), , Andrew McCarthy (St Elmo’s Fire, Lipstick Jungle), Florianna Lima (Allegiance, The Mob Doctor), Madeleine Arthur (Big Eyes), Alex Steele (Degrassi: the next generation), Rarmian Newton

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He’s not dead! The kid’s not dead! Just realize Original Sin (aka Flesh & Blood) is the first drama in at least 2 years that doesn’t start with a dead kid. Gracepoint, Secrets & Lies, American Crime, The Missing, Bloodline… Do you need more proofs of this morbid tendency that started with the great and acclaimed Broadchurch? What was once a taboo subject matter on television fascinated the whole world in the past few months as if suddenly writers were allowed to deal with such a dark, traumatic event and jumped on the opportunity all at once. Here, on the contrary, the kid is coming back from the dead -not as in The Returned or Resurrection- figuratively! Everybody thought he died 10 years ago. They were all wrong. Well, in fact, we’re not sure yet if it’s the real Adam who’s back in Red Pines or someone who’s trying to take its place in the Warren family. But that’s one of the many hooks and chills this well-crafted pilot gives you.

From a writer who worked on all Shondaland’s series -she even created one!- it doesn’t come as a surprise. She learned from the best! But this time, Shonda is not involved. Jenna Bans did it by herself. And Shonda can be proud. Last year, she wrote the Sea Of Fire pilot script, which was in my opinion really really good and was worth a try at ABC. They didn’t order it to series, because it was too dark and too sexually charged for network television, I suspect. I see Original Sin as their way of making amends and a proof they believe she is able to bring them their next hit. It was reported on Deadline it is “getting a strong buzz heading into the home stretch“, the same way as How to Get Away With Murder last year. Nothing’s ever a sure thing, but it looks good. To be totally honest with you, I think I liked Sea Of Fire better. I’d say it was more unpredictable. Original Sin possesses a lot of twists and most of them work but once or twice I said to myself: “this is going to happen“. And it happened. But people appreciate being right, so it won’t hurt if they guess one or two things in advance. They’ll feel smart and there are still plenty of surprises to get excited about anyway.

At its core, Original Sin is a family drama, a very human one, more than a mystery or a detective show, or even a soap. It’s the story of a family which was detroyed the day the youngest child disappeared and could never recover from the pain and anger they felt and still feels. Even if most of them had no choice but to get on with their lives. Even if the culprit was found. Or so they thought. It’s essentially character driven, from every point of view, not only the family’s but also the detective’s, a journalist’s and the man who was not guilty after all but may be guilty of something else soon… You can feel their pain and their guilt, even now. It’s devastating on the page. I hope the cast can live up to it. I’m not too worried. Joan Allen, Alison Pill, Rupert Graves and Zach Gilford are brilliant. As we follow Adam’s return -the scene when they see him for the first time is upsetting- we witness the day they lost him through numerous flashbacks. Where they were. What they could have done. And then what they did. ‘Cos they all did things they’re not proud of in the wake of the tragedy. One of them did something even the Lord himself can’t forgive, and he/she won’t be able to keep the secret any longer. And you want to be there the moment it’s gonna happen. Midway through the script, I already knew I wanted Original Sin to go to series badly. Add to that the feel of a small town, the pressure of a political campaign, an affair -‘cos there’s always an affair-, this weird and mysterious child, who was abused, lonely for so long, you want to hug and tell him it’s all gonna be okay except he creeps you out at the same time… Everything’s in place to make a great show out of the already great pilot.

Original Sin could totally take the actual spot of Secrets & Lies -and precedently Resurrection– on Sundays at 9 on ABC, and would mesh well with Nashville if the musical soap were on the move to Sundays at 10 as most predict, including me. I don’t know if the show has more than one or two seasons to give, but it definitely has what it takes to offer us one or two great seasons, of 13-15 episodes preferably. And if they find the right twist, I’m sure they can go on a few more years. People can relate to this family and its members, they can feel for the detective, they can get excited by the investigation and the secrets that will be found along the way… And it won’t even feel like a sin to love it. 

Photo courtesy of YVRShoots

Catches of the Week: it’ all about diversity! Vanessa Williams, Laverne Cox, Natalie Martinez…

desperate-housewives-s8-vanessa-williams-renee-perry-dvdbash1

While the directors’ jobs are filled quickly, casting is tough this pilot season. Because of the increasing competition from cable and most importantly digital platforms like Netflix & Amazon, the talent pool of experienced actors is almost empty. The pressure over channels and talent agencies is higher than ever. So far, catches are not impressive. But most of them have something in common: diversity! 

NBC is very high on diversity, something they made pretty clear since their pick-ups of series Telenovela (Eva Longoria) and Shades Of Blue (Jennifer Lopez) and pilots Go, Jerrod Go!, The Curse of the Fuentes women, martial arts Warrior, and Love is a Four Letter Word. They all requires latinos, afro-americans and asian americans in lead roles.

This is how Nadine Velasquez and Cynthia McWilliams have been cast this week in the marriage drama Love is a Four Letter Word which chronicles the collision of race, sexuality and gender roles when three diverse couples put modern marriage to the test. The My Name is Earl alumna will play play Rebecca, a Cuban American who is deeply in love with Julie and very happy with their marriage, but doesn’t realize her wife is actively considering getting back together with her ex, Nick. McWilliams will play Tandi, one half of a happy couple with a young son who is experiencing difficulties fulfilling her dream of having another child. Hot Adan Canto, seen in The Following and Mixology, got the part of the mysterious man who brings the Curse to the Fuentes women in the pilot from Ugly Betty creator Silvio Horta. Natalie Martinez, most recently seen in Under The Dome, will star in Warrior as Kai Forrester, a damaged heroine who works undercover with physical and spiritual guidance from a mysterious martial arts master to bring down an international crime lord. Finally veteran S. Epatha Merkerson from Law & Order is reuniting with producer Dick Wolfe with a lead role in the Chicago Fire and Chicago PD planted spin-off Chicago Med. She will be the head of the hopistal.

LAVERNE

In other diversity casting news, Vanessa Williams from Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives will play the bold and unapologetic new boss of Kevin Connolly (Entourage) in comedy pilot Fantasy Life for FOX, where Mitch (Connolly) lands his ultimate dream job hosting a fantasy football show, he’s forced to navigate office politics while becoming the star he never thought he could be. Asian American actor Daniel Henney has joined the Untitled Criminal Minds spin-off with Gary Sinise & Anna Gunn. Last but really not least, Laverne Cox, discovered in Orange is the new black, got the part of a transgender attorney in Reasonable Doubt for CBS. If the show is ordered to series, then she’ll become the first transgender regular character on broadcast TV, which is exciting and groundbreaking.

In other non-diversity news (!), cancelled Perception‘s star Eric McCormack, pursued for different roles, will star in musical drama pilot Studio City for FOX, where he’ll play the songwriter father of a young singer who’s trying to make it big in Hollywood, but the man turns out to be a drug dealer to the stars! Ex-Breaking Bad actress Betsy Brandt wants to prove she can be funny after the Michael J. Fox Show demise, so she accepted one of the female leads in CBS’ Life In Pieces comedy pilot, with Colin Hanks playing one of her siblings. David Lyons (Revolution, The Cape) toplines drama pilot Game Of Silence, which NBC is very high on. Sweet Zach Gildford (Friday Night Lights, Off The Map), coming off Stanistan‘s pilot USA Network sadly just decided not to pick-up to series, lands on ABC in soap pilot Flesh & Blood. Finally, excellent Annie Potts & John Carroll Lynch will play the heroine’s parents in comedy pilot Family Fortune for ABC, where the central character comes out to her family.