EXCLUSIVE: One of television’s most iconic legal dramas is poised for a comeback. ABC is developing L.A. Law, a new incarnation of the Emmy-winning Steven Bochco series, with Tony nominee Blair Underwood set to reprise his role as attorney Jonathan Rollins and executive produce.
The new L.A. Law is written/executive produced by Arrow and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow co-creator/executive producer Marc Guggenheim and Arrow/Legends writer Ubah Mohamed, and directed/executive produced by Emmy winner Anthony Hemingway. In it, the venerable law firm of McKenzie Brackman reinvents itself as a litigation firm specializing in only the most high-profile, boundary-pushing and incendiary cases. Underwood reprises his role as Rollins, who has gone from idealistic to more conservative as he clashes with millennial JJ Freeman to decide the best path forward for the firm to effect political and legal change.
While the focus will be on the new generation of lawyers at the firm working with Rollins, I hear other original cast members will likely make appearances should the project go to series.
Bochco’s son, TV director-producer Jesse Bochco, who has played a key role in putting the project together, and the late producer’s widow, Dayna Bochco, executive produce via Steven Bochco Productions. Hemingway’s producing partner Simon Mirren and producer Dan Shaw are also part of the production team. 20th Television, which was behind the original series, is the studio.
Created by Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher, L.A. Law ran for eight seasons on NBC, from 1986-94, followed by a reunion movie in 2002. The show was set in and around the fictitious Los Angeles-based law firm McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak. Many of the cases featured on the show dealt with hot-button issues such as capital punishment, abortion, racism, homophobia, sexual harassment, HIV/AIDS, and domestic violence. Underwood joined the cast in Season 2 and remained on the show until its end, earning a Golden Globe nomination.
L.A. Law won 15 Emmys throughout its run, including four for Outstanding Drama Series.
Underwood, a 2020 Tony nominee for A Soldier’s Play, recently had a major roles on the Netflix limited series Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker opposite Octavia Spencer and on the third season of the streamer’s Dear White People. The Quantico alum also appeared in Ava DuVernay’s Netflix limited series When They See Us, Hulu’s Bad Hair and the new Showtime drama Your Honor. Underwood, an Emmy winner for the non-fiction series Give, is repped by ICM Partners, Thruline Entertainment and Felker Toczek
This marks a return to the legal drama beat for Guggenheim, a lawyer by trade who practiced for five years before pursuing a career as a writer. His first writing job was on ABC’s The Practice, created by another attorney-turned-writer, L.A. Law alum David E. Kelley. Guggenheim also co-created with frequent collaborator Greg Berlanti ABC legal drama Eli Stone. Guggenheim went on to become one of Berlanti’s top lieutenants in building the Arrowverse on the CW with stints as executive producer/showrunner on Arrow and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which he co-created. During his tenure, Guggenheim also spearheaded the franchise’s annual crossover events, most recently the massive “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” Guggenheim is currently writing/executive producing Berlanti Prods.’ upcoming Green Lantern series for HBO Max as well as a Spider-Man Universe movie Jackpot For Sony and Prophet for Studio 8. He is repped by Syndicate Entertainment.
Mohamed has been working on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow since Season 3 after co-writing an episode of Arrow. She is repped by Gersh, Kaplan/Perrone and attorney Erik Hyman.
Hemingway recently wrapped production on Nat Geo’s Genius: Aretha, on which he is executive producer and director. Through Anthony Hemingway Prods., he produces the upcoming animated short Skin Deep alongside 6 Point Harness. He also is attached to direct ABC’s Waiting to Exhale series reboot. Hemingway also has teamed with Pose star Hailie Sahar for a Sir Lady Java biopic and will direct college football drama Workhorses in the works at Amazon, written by Sheldon Turner. Hemingway is repped by WME, Gotham Group and attorney Tom Hoberman.
Through Steven Bochco Prods., Jesse and Dayana Bochco also executive produce 20th TV’s upcoming Doogie Howser reboot Doogie Kameāloha, M.D., based on the series co-created by Steven Bochco, for Disney+. They also executive produced ABC’s 2019 NYPD Blue pilot, based on Steven Bochco’s groundbreaking cop drama.
UPDATE: Underwood reposted Deadline’s story with a note to L.A. Law fans:
For all those LA LAW fans from back in the day… We are working on something new for ya. I’ll definitely keep you posted! pic.twitter.com/M1sNmkxLrJ
— Blair Underwood (@BlairUnderwood) December 18, 2020