“We shot the most current show you’ll ever see. It’s exactly current with the world,” Richard Dreyfuss said at TCA of Fox’s event series Shots Fired. “As we were shooting, it was happening and then we left [Concord, NC] and it happened there.
“This is America,” Dreyfuss added.
The 10-episode event series (watch the trailer above) will debut at the Sundance Film Festival and launch March 22 on Fox. The show, from executive producers Gina Prince-Bythewood, Reggie Rock Bythewood, Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo, examines the aftermath of two racially charged shootings in a small Southern town.
Initially, the town is turned upside down when an African-American police officer kills an unarmed white college student. In the course of the investigation, a neglected case involving the murder of an African-American teen is brought to light, and a DOJ investigator and special prosecutor uncover a potential cover-up involving North Carolina’s governor (Helen Hunt), and a real estate mogul/privatized prison owner (Dreyfuss).
Reggie Bythewood stressed that the series is a who-done-it mystery as well as a why-done-it. The mystery is the narrative to keep viewers on the edge of their seats and, while they’re leaning forward, hit them with the larger story. “The mystery element is the glue that keep us coming back,” he said.
One critic seemed to take umbrage that the initial shooting was not a white cop shooting a young black man, as “we’ve seen it so often in real life,” but the reverse.
“It’s easy for people who watch the news and, if you don’t identify with those on the screen, you turn it off,” Prince-Bythewood answered. By flipping the narrative, they think people will watch who might not otherwise identify with the characters. Bythewood jumped in with Attitus Finch’s To Kill a Mockingbird line, recently cribbed by President Obama: You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
If successful, Shots Fired could “have a longer life” than the 10 episode season in some form, Grazer said.