Tag Archives: “Southland”

Shawn Hatosy, Ben McKenzie Finding Levity, Good Guy Times, on ‘Southland’

Ben McKenzie, Shawn Hatosy

Fans of TNT’s critically-admired “Southland” police drama can expect to see things lighten up some for Shawn Hatosy’s character on the new season of the show launching Jan. 17.

Last season, his Detective Sammy Bryant went into a tailspin following his partner’s death in a gang shooting.  But now, back to being a uniformed patrol cop, Bryant is partnered with Ben McKenzie’s  Officer Ben Sherman, and they’ve developed “a certain levity that was missing,” he says.  “This is an opportunity for us to see cops in a very masculine setting, at their best and having fun — in their element and enjoying themselves.”

Hatosy notes, “When I first came on ‘Southland,’ I thought that being a detective was going to be cool, and it was.  I was resistant to the idea of changing into a street cop — until I saw what the episodes were looking like.  Yeah, I like driving on the show, and driving fast, and taking sharp turns and driving up alleys.  I haven’t experienced all this before.  It’s just as fun as it looks.”  In fact,  “For me, it’s a whole new character.  I think he’s never been more comfortable than he is now.  This suits him better.”

Hatosy himself has undergone changes, too.  “When I started on ‘Southland,’ I had just quit smoking and I was 30 pounds heavier — I couldn’t believe it.  If you don’t smoke, don’t start,” he digresses.  “Now I’ve had three seasons of getting into shape.  We’re a cast that is very in shape.  The show requires a lot of physicality,” he says of the series, on which Lucy Liu makes her debut the 17th.

“The style is our own.  The cameras we use are small and mobile and we do things that other shows can’t do.  Yeah, we get doubled sometimes, jumping off tall buildings and things like that, but we do a lot of our own  stunts.”

Lucy Liu Finds ‘Southland’ Tough Duty, ‘Kung Fu Panda’ a Treat

Lucy Liu TNT photo

Lucy Liu has just finished shooting her first episode of TNT’s “Southland” — and has found the show testing her mettle.  “You definitely get the grittiness, the reality of it,” she says of playing a cop in the January-debuting fourth season of the police drama. 

“You just jump in headfirst.  I’ve done a couple of stunts, and, you know, it’ s not about padding you up.  It’s about throwing you around. 

“I don’t think my martial arts training is going to save me in this environment,” she adds with a laugh.  “They can be running around using their guns.”

The “Charlie’s Angels” star went on a police ride-along with fellow “Southland” actor Michael Cudlitz to get to know her character’s territory recently — cruising through some of the most crime-infested South Central Los Angeles neighborhoods.  She found the experience heart-rending. 

“First of all, Michael Cudlitz and I drove together — he was with me and the sergeants, and he let me sit in the front seat.  I was like, ‘Thanks a lot.’  It was scary because you see children running around in these neighborhoods.  There’s an unpredictable atmosphere, where you don’t know if something is going to happen.  They tell you, ‘There was a shooting at that corner last week.  There was a tree right there and it literally got blown away.’  And these kids live there.  It gives you an immediate feeling of wanting to protect all these children and the other people in the neighborhood who aren’t involved in criminal activities, aren’t ivolved in gangs,” says Liu.  “You see all the dogs and cats running around on the streets that are obviously strays, and it’s easy to associate that with what’s going on in the neighborhoods themselves.  And you just sense the fact there’s less opportunity there than in Century City or Beverly Hills, and it’s just such a shame.”

Liu has a definite soft spot for kids.  It’s one of the reasons she’s being heard on Nickelodeon’s new CG animated comedy series, “Kung Fu Panda:  Legends of Awesomeness.”  The afternoon show, being done in partnership with DreamWorks, carries on the big screen “Kung Fu Panda” characters and story, with Liu voicing the character of Viper. 

“I adore working on it, and I think kids can enjoy the little snippets of stories, and not having to wait four or five years for the next movie,” says Liu.  She has friends whose kids have watched “Kung Fu Panda” 50 times.  Fortunately for them, “Kung Fu Panda 2” is coming out on DVD and Blu-Ray Dec. 13.

Liu enjoys her character.  She notes, “Viper’s backstory is that she was born without fangs, and her parents said, ‘Oh my gosh!’  But she made up for it with her kung fu.”  (But not in South Central L.A.)

MEANWHILE:  On an entirely different note, the actress-producer-artist is pleased with response to her Lucy Liu: Seventy Two  art book, showing off her abstract black-and-white illustrations inspired by the 72 names of God in the Kabbalah, the mystcial branch of Judaism. 

“It’s really exciting to be able to do so many different things,” says Liu, who credits a friend of hers for helping her take her art instillation and make a book of it.  “If he hadn’t done that, it probably would still just be sitting on a wall. 
It opened up a new arena for me.  I love to learn about everything, and sometimes I think the best way to learn is to get involved yourself.”

‘Southland,’ ‘Spider-Man’ Double Duty for C. Thomas Howell

C. Thomas Howell

C. Thomas Howell has been doubling up work of late, going back and forth between the “Southland” series set and his role in the hotly-anticipated big screen “Spider-Man” reboot starring Andrew Garfield.  It’s a schedule squeeze that Howell is well aware most actors would give their eye teeth to experience.

“‘Southland’ has been real accommodating,” reports the actor, who rose to fame in such ‘eighties film fare as “The Outsiders” and “Grandview, U.S.A.”.  “This week will be the end of shooting for the 10 episodes this season, and I’ll go back to ‘Spider-Man’ after that.”

His Spidey role has been the object of intense speculation on movie and comic book blogs alike, but Howell must stay mum. “I had to sign, basically, a bible about not expressing anything, not talking about details,” he tells us.  “It’s understandable they want to keep things secret.  There’s so much money in it.”

Still, Howell admits, “It’s so hard keeping the iPhone out of my pocket on the set, when I want to take photos left and right.  The other night we were on the back lot of Universal, and they had it dressed up to be downtown New York, with steam coming up out of the ground and cabs crowding the street.  You’d never have guessed you weren’t in New York City.  I felt like a kid in the ultimate playground.”

Howell can say that his is “not a major role, but it is a poignant, important role.”

The one-time teen idol can also say, “My son, who is in 8th grade now — his class is reading The Outsiders, and one of his teachers asked me to come speak about the experience of playing Ponyboy.  Of course, my son said, ‘Dad, you’re not coming!'”  However, “With ‘Spider-Man,’ I’m now the coolest thing in the world.  They’re all fans of super hero movies,” he says, referring to his two sons and his daughter, ages 10, 14, and 17, with wife of 18 years, Sylvie.  “I know they go to school and say, ‘My dad’s in the ‘Spider-Man’ movie.”

They don’t watch much of the gritty, ultra-realistic “Southland” — but countless other Howell fans do.  With his series character of abrasive, newly-reformed alcoholic police officer Bobby Dewey, “I get all kinds of reactions.  It’s an effective role, and I love playing him.  People don’t really know what to do with it,” Howell says.  “I was at the market the other day, standing in line, and this woman says, ‘Oh!  You’re in ‘”Southland.”  And before I could say anything, she said, ‘I hate you,’ turned around and walked away.”  He laughs.

Other times, it’s been different. “I can’t tell you how many people come up and throw their arms around me, and say, ‘Oh my God, I can relate to what you’re doing and what you’re going through.'”

According to Howell, Dewey started off “as just a small role in the pilot three years ago.  I’ve become sort of a permanent guest star.  He’s such a colorful character, the writers saw something they really liked in the beginning, and they were open to me running with it, which has been great.”  Officer Dewey was such a drunk, he even wrecked a squad car during a binge.  Now he’s back from his suspension, espousing the wisdom of his 12 step program, “but there’s still an edge to him,” points out Howell.  “He says all the things other people might think, but don’t have the ability to voice.”

He has found that Dewey draws more reaction than any other character he’s played.

“In my dreams at night, I’d just like for the show to continue to be picked up.  I’d like to be a main member of the cast.  Even though not I’m not credited as such, in terms of responsibility and acceptance, I feel as if I am a main part of the show.  That’s really good enough for me.  I’m happy to see the ratings going up, that people are accepting it.  It’s a great show, and that’s a great feeling.”

As for himself, at 44, “I feel like a nice old bottle of wine.  The parts have been getting better for me in the last few years.  I’m so glad I didn’t end up a) in the Betty Ford clinic; or b) quitting the business.  I anticipate a great run this year.”  Indeed.

Angie Dickinson Talks Scorsese Sinatra Picture

Angie Dickinson

Angie Dickinson

Angie Dickinson has been following with interest developments on Martin Scorsese’s planned big screen biography of Frank Sinatra.  She was, after all, an honorary member of the fabled Rat Pack as well as Sinatra’s leading lady in “Ocean’s Eleven” and beyond.

“Wouldn’t that be great if he could really pull that off?” she asks.  She’s hoping for a biopic the quality of the Joaquin Phoenix “Walk the Line.”

“I thought that was one of the great movies made in recent years and a great depiction of the character.  They even improved Johnny Cash’s image,” notes the septuagenarian Hollywood icon.

Robin Wright Penn

Robin Wright Penn

With Leonardo DiCaprio being talked for Ol’ Blue Eyes, who should play Angie Dickinson?  “Robin Wright Penn or Jessica Biel could play me, and a couple of others.

Angie Dickinson

Angie Dickinson

I’m not that hard to figure out,” she answers with a laugh.  “There have been times when I’ve seen Drew Barrymore in something and thought, ‘If I were young, I could be in that part.'”

Angie has no problem with latter day emulators of the Rat Pack – originally comprised, you’ll recall, of Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.  “I absolutely love it.  Listen, I’ve been dining out on that for 59 years.  I get a great kick out of it.”

MEANWHILE: The one-time “Police Woman” returns to the tube July 18 in the Hallmark Channel movie, “Mending Fences,” a title that tells of her relationship with onscreen daughter Laura Leighton – as well as the movie’s tale of small town citizens banding together to save their water supply from developers.

Of the former “Melrose Place” star, Dickinson says, “She’s terrific.  The script was too long and she was working on it every day, making it more succinct and understandable to the audience.”  She adds, “She’s absolutely beautiful — skinny as a rail.  I’d look at her every day and say, ‘Oh, my God!’ … I’ve gained 20 pounds since my prime.”

As far as future acting desires, “I’d like to play Meryl Streep’s mother when they do ‘Prada’ 2,” Angie tells us.  However, she’s aware good parts for older people are few.  “It is a young people’s medium.  It always will be and should be,” Angie says.  “We don’t go to movies about old people, except once in a while.  Basically, and rightly so, we want to watch young people.  They’re fun to watch.”

A NEW KIND OF PARTNER:  Robert Gossett has been knee deep in police work on the popular TNT series “The Closer,” but the veteran actor reveals he may be temporarily turning in his police badge for some dance shoes.  According to Gossett, he has been approached by “Dancing With the Stars” to possibly compete when the show returns in September, but no decisions have been made.

“They’re in the process of talking to my agent about it.  Yeah, I would very much like to do it,” Gossett tells us.  “I went to a performing arts high school in New York.  I was a music major there, but I was involved with dancing a little bit.  Later on I did musicals so it involved a lot more dance,” he recalls.  “I think it would be fun.  My kids would get a kick out of it.  They don’t think I can dance anyway.  I always embarrass them, especially the 13-year-old.”

For now, Gossett is busy at work on “The Closer,” which is currently in its fifth season.  “We’ve got an endless supply of great ideas and the writing hasn’t diminished.  It’s been my experience that after a few years the writers run out of gas, but that hasn’t happened here,” he claims.  “A lot of us are veterans.  That’s a nice way of saying older, but what’s great is that we all bring it. The caliber of acting is definitely very high on this show.”  Luckily they’re a tight knit group too with Kyra Sedgwick, who was just awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as their ringleader.  “We were all so happy for her.  She certainly deserves it.  We all came and supported her, which is very indicative of how we are as a cast.”

John Cleese

John Cleese

THE HIGH SEAS:  John Cleese already knows where he’ll be enjoying special time next year.  The cut up of Monty Python fame will be aboard The Silver Spirit, the  newest ship of Silver Sea‘s ultra-luxury cruise line.   He’ll combine leisure with work, sharing insights and anecdotes from his long career with guests as the Spirit glides from Buenos Aires to Santiago as part of a 91-day Grand Inaugural Voyage.

GETTING ON BOARD: “Southland” star Michael Cudlitz gives NBC props for striving to stay on top of the new media tsunami, by “pushing things in a large way on the internet — on Hulu and iTunes.  They’ve done a really good job as far as pushing people in that direction.  They’re trying out a whole new business model as opposed to fighting it.  Thirty million people are not watching on Thursday night any more – they have so many more choices — but they’re still out there,” he points out.  Cudlitz is, of course, particularly interested in seeing how the network’s restructured programming works out this Fall, when “Jay Leno takes over the 10 o’clock hour and they go down from the typical 15 hours of prime time programming to 10 plus Leno.  It’s more like the European markets and England, a shorter season, and rotating stuff around.”  And edgy, action-filled fare like “Southland” will be tried on the 9 o’clock, rather than 10 o’clock audience.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster