Showbiz 411 is reporting that the CBS pilot for TRAINING DAY, based on the movie that earned Denzel Washington his Academy Award for Best Actor will not be casting an African American man as the rogue detective with a questionable moral compass. Instead the network is looking to cast a white actor in the role. This would have been a meaty role for for a black actor in his 40s. My shortlist for this role included Shemar Moore (CRIMINAL MINDS), Cuba Gooding Jr., and Malcolm Jamal Warner. Shows like EMPIRE, SCANDAL and HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER have proven that audiences love and are accepting of black actors portraying multi-layered, sometimes messy characters. But, my guess is that the network wants to remain in its comfort zone of having a procedural drama with an older caucasian man as the leading man.
According to Showbiz 411 in the new version, Frank Rourke is the “wolf, a rogue cop, and a man who lives by the law of the jungle.” His protege is Kyle Craig, a young naive black trainee who will try and take Frank down. That would be the Ethan Hawke part from the movie.
So, if this is truly the case, CBS should cast O’Shea Jackson (STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON) in the role of the young cop paired with veteran cop. Jackson gave an amazing performance as STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON portraying his father Ice Cube during his time as part of the rap phenom N.W.A. In his first movie role, he showed a great amount of range inhabiting all of the rage and frustration felt by young black men living in Los Angeles during the late 1980s/early 90’s. O’Shea was also very charming in the scenes where he got show the softer edges of Ice Cube. Hollywood was buzzing about Jackson’s performance in the film, his first movie role. Many were surprised when he didn’t land on the list of Oscar nominees in the Best Supporting Actor category.
By casting O’Shea Jackson in TRAINING DAY, CBS has the opportunity to appeal to a younger audience that’s probably not very familiar with their other shows. He’s young, handsome, and can act! And maybe his famous father would take time out of his hit movie making schedule for a cameo or two if the show goes to series. This would be a smart casting move by CBS that would get a lot of notice.