Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage:
As a Detroit native, I can confirm that Detroit is an economically troubled, crime-ridden, racially polarized city that for decades hasn’t seemed able to catch a break. And at today’s TCA, it became clear that the fact ABC has set and is shooting its new crime series Detroit 1-8-7 in the Motor City, while a boon to the local economy, is already causing controversy there. Discussed today were the clashes with the Detroit City Council over the possibility of negative stereotypes from a cop show about the town nicknamed “Murder City.” The code 1-8-7 stands for homicide. Detroit City Councilman Kwame Kenyatta has called for a resolution that asked the show to change its title, because he says it associates Detroit with murder. But executive producer Jason Richman said there is no plan to change the title: “1-8-7 is another way to say homicide. We think it’s cool and represents the visual identity of the show, “ he said. “It’s just kind of a pop culture reference. It wasn’t meant to mirror the radio codes of Detroit. It’s a crime show, and we’re sticking to the title.”
More woes: The reason that the show has scuttles its plans for using documentary elements also has to do with the real-life situation in Detroit. While executive producers Richman and David Zabel were in the city, a 7-year-old girl was accidentally shot and killed during a nighttime home police raid. (Police pursued a murder suspect into the house.) The raid was being followed by a documentary TV crew. The girl awoke during the commotion and ended up in the line of fire. Zabel said that some community leaders believed the police might have “amped up the situation a little” for the cameras and put the girl at higher risk. Said Richman: ”That was pretty real and pretty scary stuff and the city was very concerned about that. They patently said that no documentary film crews could follow the police. We were sensitive to their concerns. It was a huge, huge story that traumatized the city.”
Added Zabel: “At the end of the day, creatively we are convinced [that] while the documentary conceit was very interesting and compelling in the pilot [and later episodes], we were going to feel a little hampered and hemmed in by that.” The altered format, he said, has “freed us up to explore a lot more.”
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