“Cop Shop,” the next offering in the acclaimed drama series PBS HOLLYWOOD PRESENTS, airs on PBS Wednesday, October 6, 2004, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET. The presentation consists of two original teleplays involving New York City police who work in an Upper West Side precinct. The project stars Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss (The Goodbye Girl, Mr. Holland’s Opus), Tony Award-winner Blair Brown (Copenhagen, “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd”), Rosie Perez (Do the Right Thing, White Men Can’t Jump), Oscar-winner Rita Moreno (West Side Story, “Oz”) and Jay Thomas (The Santa Clause 2, Love & War).
The teleplays were conceived by David Black (The Confession, “Law & Order,” “100 Centre Street”) as part of a series exploring the off-duty lives and relationships of people who happen to be policemen and policewomen. With decades of experience as a writer for such acclaimed police dramas as “Hill Street Blues,” “Miami Vice,” “Law & Order” and most recently “CSI: Miami,” Black became interested in developing a different kind of “cop show” — a drama that would offer a much more realistic depiction of cops’ lives through compelling character-driven stories rather than crime- busting adventure tales.
“The truth is that the vast majority of cops in this country never pull their guns,” said Black, “and most of the cops who are forced to shoot someone are traumatized by the experience. The aim of this show is to be able to talk about things like that, to scale down the operatic quality of the stories we see on TV and bring everything back to a human level. Then we can deal with what goes on in the human heart — in the heart of a cop, a criminal or an ordinary citizen.”
The original concept of the two PBS HOLLYWOOD PRESENTS teleplays was to replicate a live television production by rehearsing each story as a play and then shooting it straight through, in one 45-minute take, using three digital cameras. This was accomplished for the first story, “Fear,” but modified for the second story, “Blind Date,” because of location constraints.
“Fear” tells the story of a community meeting between police officers and local residents on the verge of panic over a series of rapes in the neighborhood. The fear becomes contagious, and the officers begin to lose control. Based on an actual event, the teleplay introduces Dreyfuss’ character, Detective Leonard Manzo, and stars Blair Brown as precinct commander Francis Harding, Jay Thomas as seasoned detective Moe Diamond and Michole Briana White (“100 Centre Street,” Jitney) as ambitious young cop Debra Ganier, who is put in charge of the meeting but isn’t up to the task. The piece raises questions about the public’s assumptions regarding safety and the complicated relationship between the police and the public. Joe Cacaci directed from a script by David Black.
In “Blind Date,” Manzo (Dreyfuss) visits a neighborhood brothel for what turns out to be a surprising reason — to find a woman he can relate to on a personal level. He finds a sympathetic soul in Heaven, played by Rosie Perez, before the place is turned upside down by the arrival of cops from another precinct. Also starring are Rita Moreno as madam Mary Alice, Sarita Choudhury as Charmaine, Annie Campbell as Nikki, Laurie Naughton as Kat and Christopher Lawford as Officer Kenny Clay. Anita Addison directed from a script by Robin Shamburg.
“The driving force behind PBS HOLLYWOOD PRESENTS is to give artists a forum to pursue projects they passionately believe in and the freedom to explore new ways of working in television.” said Mary Mazur, executive producer of the series and executive vice president of programming and production for KCET. “Working with David, Richard, Joe, Anita and the exceptional cast of ‘Cop Shop’ has been a very satisfying creative experience.”
“Our collaboration with KCET has been nothing short of extraordinary,” added Black. “Mary and her team immediately understood the vision behind ‘Cop Shop’ and have supported and nurtured this project every step of the way.”
PBS HOLLYWOOD PRESENTS, part of an ongoing drama initiative, premiered in April 2001 with the critically acclaimed production of “The Old Settler,” starring Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen. “Collected Stories,” starring Linda Lavin and Samantha Mathis, aired on PBS in January 2002. That program was followed by the September 2002 production of Michael Frayn’s Tony Award-winning drama “Copenhagen,” starring Stephen Rea, Francesca Annis and Daniel Craig.
The executive producers of “Cop Shop” are award-winning writer-producer David Black, director-producer Joe Cacaci (“The Education of Max Bickford,” “Crime in Connecticut: The Story of Alex Kelly”) and Dreyfuss. Anita Addison (“Judging Amy,” “Deep in My Heart”) was the co-executive producer.