CBS Should Cast O’Shea Jackson as the Young Lead in TRAINING DAY!

 

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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.

Jennifer Lopez’s SHADES OF BLUE needs a SCRIPT DOCTOR, STAT!

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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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CASTING IDEAS FOR NBC’S REBOOT OF “HART TO HART” with GAY LEADS!

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NBC announced this week that the Peacock network is developing a remake of the ABC series HART TO HART featuring a gay couple.  According to Deadline Hollywood the new Hart To Hart is described as a modern and sexy retelling of the classic series that focuses on “by the book” attorney Jonathan Hart and free-spirited investigator Dan Hartman, who must balance the two sides of their life: action-packed crime-solving in the midst of newly found domesticity. Click here for the full story.

While I’m not generally a fan of reboots, I can get behind this version of HART TO HART.  Here are a few of my casting ideas:

BLAIR UNDERWOOD & JONATHAN GROFF

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Blair Underwood has the demeanor to play “by the book” lawyer Jonathan Hart, but is also believable as having an adventurous side.  Jonathan Groff’s current run in Broadway’s HAMILTON showcases his ability to be fun and lighthearted, making him a perfect fit for investigator Dan Hartman.

MATT BOMER & ADAM RODRIGUEZ

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Reuniting MAGIC MIKE’S Matt Bomer and Adam Rodriguez would make for one sexy crime solving duo. In this scenario, Rodriguez would play straight-laced lawyer Jonathan Hart, while Bomer would take on the role of free spirited Dan Hartman.

PATRICK DEMPSEY & RUSSELL TOVEY

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Patrick Dempsey, who set hearts aflutter as McDreamy on GREY’S ANATOMY, and British heartthrob Russell Tovey would make a dashing and quite debonair pairing. In this case, the younger Tovey would play by the book attorney Jonathan Hart, with Dempsey taking on the role of carefree investigator Dan Hartman.

For the role of “Max,” the Hart’s dependable gal Friday, here are three ideas:

JASMINE GUY

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Jasmine Guy would be great as the couple’s no-nonsense assistant without whom their lives would be in total disarray. This version of Max would try to keep the Harts out of trouble, but would end up getting involved against her better judgement.

DOT MARIE JONES

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Dot Marie Jones, free off of GLEE, would be a more imposing version of Max.  When the Hart’s need back-up, it would be hard for the bad guys to get past Max.

LAUREN WEEDMAN

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Lauren Weedman gave a stellar performance as the Doris on the now-cancelled HBO series LOOKING.  Doris was the resident smart-ass and as Max, Weedman would give a quirky comical spin to the role.