Terri Kopp acknowledged that she gives the lead character of her new BET legal drama In Contempt a lot of lines she wished she could have said during her 3 1/2 years working at the Legal Aid Society in Manhattan. “It is a little heightened reality,” she told TV critics happily, after the sizzle reel in which Erica Ash’s Gwen Sullivan uses a middle finger to make a point in court, for instance.
Kopp has been trying to get the series made for a long time, saying it has had “different lives and iterations.” Sometimes it would “get close, and studios would say, ‘I don’t know who to root for’ — because, she said, they did not “get what the show is trying to say.” BET is the right network, and the timing is “perfect for this issue to be talked about.”
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Kopp actually sold it to BET a few years ago, she explained, but it “just happened to bubble back up.”
To that point actor Richard Lawson, noting he’s been in the business 50 years, said he’s read scripts on countless procedurals but this one was a “page turner,” in part “because of the timing, and what they’re trying to do to the court system today, and it’s only going to get worse.”
Asked what other legal shows they’ve watched and liked, Christian Keyes responded enthusiastically, “I love Law & Order!
“To this day if I’m leaving the house and Law & Order is on, I might be a little late,” he joked.
In Contempt, Keyes enthused, is “from this brilliant, passionate, female-driven perspective” showing “a woman’s weakness and all the pressure you go through, and all the flaws. And all that is available, and more, in the writing.”
“I fell in love with this. It’s like a younger, witty, fresh, sexy Law & Order,” he said.
BET has set an April 10 debut date for the series set in a legal aid office in New York City, in which opinionated and wildly outspoken attorney Gwen contends with complicated cases and office distractions that include Charlie (Keyes), the undeserving but still newly appointed supervisor who also happens to be her ex; and Earl (Lawson), her stern and hard-to-please former father, a former judge.
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