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.
Full disclosure: I was hesitant to watch the new Jennifer Lopez drama “SHADES OF BLUE” because the title sounds like a cancelled series. But, I decided to watch the first three episodes and when I finished I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. Strong performances from Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta peaked my interest in an otherwise just “ok” show.
The framework of “SHADES OF BLUE” is strong. Detective Harlee Santos (Lopez) is a dirty cop who works for her mentor Matt Wozniak (Ray Liotta) who is also dirty. When Harlee is busted by the FBI the single mom (of course) is forced to choose between going to jail or turning on Matt. She of course agrees to help gather evidence against Matt. Of course Matt finds out that there’s an FBI informant on his team and is hell bent on rooting out the “rat” as he calls them. This begins a cat and mouse chase between Matt and Harlee setting up the central conflict of the series.
My biggest issue with “SHADES OF BLUE” is the dialogue. Throughout the three episodes I kept rolling my eyes when I’d hear a line of dialogue like when Harlee tells and perp “you have the right to shut the hell up.” It seems the writers found of box of scripts of 80’s cop movies and felt inspired to pepper “SHADES OF BLUE” with lines like “you can’t take back a bullet.” Yikes! I’m guessing that NBC thinks of the show as its version of a gritty cable cop. It’s not. It’s a broadcast drama promising high stakes but rarely delivering on that promise. What makes the show watchable are the performances by Lopez and Liotta.
Lopez fails to make Harlee Santos a breakout tv character like Cookie Lyons on “EMPIRE”, Annalise Keating on “HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER” or Carrie Mathieson on “HOMELAND.” I liked Harlee because I like Jennifer Lopez. Well, I don’t hate Jennifer Lopez and she plays sexy and tough effortlessly. Ray Liotta is no stranger to playing a bad cop. The 1992 film “UNLAWFUL ENTRY” came to mind as I was watching the show. He gives the strongest performance among the ensemble. Former “THE SOPRANOS” and “SONS OF ANARCHY” star Drea de Matteo co-stars as another not-so-clean detective and her talent is mostly wasted in the role. Hopefully the writers will further develop her character and drop some of the dead weight of the other supporting detective characters on their team. The series does get points for diversity, but again, instead of characterization they write the Black drug dealer like any black drug dealer you’ve seen in a myriad of movies and tv shows.
Anyone looking for a high stakes, intelligent and thoughtful drama, this isn’t it. “SHADES OF BLUE” is definitely watchable as long as you have reasonable expectations and remember you’re watching an NBC drama.
UPDATE: NBC HAS RENEWED SHADES OF BLUE FOR A SECOND SEASON
What do you think? Are you team “BLUE?” Leave your comments below.
Check out some of the riveting dialogue from “SHADES OF BLUE” below:
When PRISON BREAK premiered on FOX in 2005 I was immediately taken in by the story of a brother who gets himself thrown in the same prison as his falsely accused brother for the purpose of breaking him out. Every episode in season one was an edge of your seat thrill ride. FOX allowed the show to push the envelope as far as possible to reflect the realities of prison.
As the show progressed over four seasons, the plots became more preposterous but was still able to deliver heart pounding moments. Honestly, it became difficult to keep up with every twist especially when they made no sense. But, I was ride or die for brothers Michael (Wentworth Miller) and Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) and stuck with the show until the end. Speaking of the end, *SPOILER ALERT* Michael died! I really hope they don’t pull the “he had to fake his death to protect his family” card. That would feel desperate and tired. The final episode so nicely wrapped up the series and all of the bad guys had either been killed, imprisoned or left drooling (real fans will know what I mean).
I must say that since PRISON BREAK ended in 2009 I have not wondered what any of the characters would be doing today. It’s not a show I’ve really thought about until the recent news of the reboot. The limited series will potentially spoil any good will the show had with its few remaining viewers. On a positive note, it will be nice to see Wentworth Miller back on tv, but FOX could have just cast him in one of their new series.
I don’t know what the proposed plot-line is for PRISON BREAK 2.0 but I’m guessing Lincoln will find himself in trouble and in prison, again, forcing Michael to come out of hiding to break his brother out, again. I really hope I’m wrong.
If you’ve never seen PRISON BREAK, seasons 1 & 2 are definitely worth a weekend binge. The final 2 seasons get a little wonky and frustrating. I hope the writers and producers prove me wrong, but I’m not holding my breath.
Are you excited for the return of PRISON BREAK? Comment below.