Expect Jimmy Smits’ forthcoming “Outlaw” drama to be fueled by hot button issues, attention-grabbing news blasts and tough controversies. That’s the word from the star himself, who points out, “My years of working on ‘The West Wing’ did cement in my mind the fact that there is an audience out there for topical stories.”
“Outlaw,” as you may know, has him as a Supreme Court Justice who steps down. “The way we’re positing the character is that during his time on the bench, he’s been one of the more conservative-leaning judges. His father, you see in the pilot, is an activist, kind of liberal. When his father dies, it causes him to reassess what he wants to do in his life,” Jimmy explains. “He decides he can make more of an impact by going around the country, trying cases.
“It’s exciting trying to do something a little bit out the box there,” he adds. “This character is edgy and not predictable.”
He reports that he’s seeing outlines for the shows’ scripts as the writers work away, with plans for production to start the second week of July. Before he steps before the “Outlaw” cameras, however, the actor — who now holds the distinction of playing both the President of the United States and a Supreme Court Justice on TV series — heads to Washington, D.C., appropriately enough. He’s hosting the 30thAnnual “A Capitol Fourth” Independence Day mega-event before a crowd of a quarter million on the lawn of the Capitol building – plus millions of viewers at home via PBS.
“I’m always psyched to do it. My family loves it,” he says. “They always try to be as eclectic as possible in terms of the performers, to have a real tapestry of our country, and this year they’ve done it in a really big way. David Archuleta from ‘Idol,’ Gladys Knight, Reba McEntire, Darius Rucker, and the National Symphony Orchestra, which is going to do a wonderful tribute to Erich Kunzel” — who died last year, having conducted at the event for 20 years. Then there’s the other big “Capitol Fourth” draw. Notes Jimmy, “I grew up in New York, so fireworks on the 4th of July is a way of life.”