Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Talking up the network’s mid-season cop drama Golden Boy, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said today at TCA that they initially had seen the new lead-in for Blue Bloods as a “star vehicle” for Theo James, portraying an ambitious cop who becomes the youngest police commissioner in the history of New York City. But she said when network executives watched the pilot, they began seeing the relationship between James’ character and his mentor-father figure on the force, Chi McBride’s Detective Dan Owen. “You could see the show was evolving into a different kind of show, a two-hander between these two actors,” said Tassler of the drama, created by NYPD Blue / Law & Order veteran Nicholas Wootton and executive produced by Wootton and Greg Berlanti.
At the Golden Boy panel following Tassler’s Q&A remarks, actors James and McBride talked about the chemistry. “It developed naturally from pilot synergy,” British actor James said. “It’s a little bit of art imitating life. I’m a young English punk coming over and McBride is a veteran actor,” he said. He compared the relationship to Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Joked McBride: “First of all will you stop with the accent already? He’s from Long Beach.” More seriously, he added: “There are a lot of parallels with our real life, I took Theo out for his first cigar. This is not a typical kind of cop show, I love that it’s character-driven. This is my partner. We are friends off-camera and on.”
The drama is unusual because each season of the show focuses on one of 7 years leading up to James’ character, Walter William Clark Jr., becoming police commissioner (that is, if the show lasts that long).” Wootton confirmed that the first season of the show would focus on only the first year of that trajectory. “I love a story where you know the end because it instantly makes it about the characters, Wootton said.
Wootton likened James’ character to the young Facebook entrepreneurs as portrayed in the movie The Social Network. “That feels to me like the modern young male, this drive and ambition and kind of thoughtless, forward-thinking, I-don’t-care-who-gets-burned ambition,” the producer said.
Executive producer Berlanti addressed comparisons to Jack & Bobby, the WB series he co-created about the lives of the two Kennedys before one becomes president of the United States. “I think it [flashback] works well for narrative television structure,” he said. “TV is so many times about small moments, and yet they can have such a big impact.”