About The Production
"I was watching L.A. Confidential when I came up with the idea that sparked the whole project," says producer Jorge
Saralegui. "Kevin Spacey's character [fictional detective Jack Vincennes, who covered the Hollywood beat and served as technical advisor for a police-themed television series] was a media-savvy cop. I began to think that in today's world a guy like that would probably be on the Cops television show."
As to whether or not being featured on Cops would be a good or a bad thing for a career officer would depend upon how focused he was on police work versus how interested he might be in seeing himself on screen -- an aspect that Showtime explores.
"I got to thinking about how the media affects the way people do things and how they and their lives are perceived," Saralegui continues, "and about how ideally that concept would lend itself in a humorous way to the classic buddy cop scenario — a genre that also has great comic potential." At that point the creative and satirical possibilities multiplied and the Showtime story began to evolve.
"One of the conflicts between the partners," Saralegui explains, "is that Trey understands and welcomes the media, knows what its role is in the world and wants to be a part of it, while Mitch just wants the media to go away, which is really impossible. Trey knows how to manipulate the camera. He knows what his daily routine is when it's just him out there alone and it's pretty uneventful, but he'll put on a whole different show if tape is rolling. The irony is that the really efficient cop is the one doing everything by the book but has no screen presence and so he's the one who comes off badly in the spotlight while the other guy, who is always screwing up, really shines on camera and looks like he's doing a great job. It's all in the interpretation."
With the introduction of Rene Russo's character Chase Renzi, the television producer who packages the officers for her police reality drama entitled Showtime, this conflict comes into sharp and immediate focus.
For Trey, it appears that playing to an audience enhances his performance on the job. It actually seems to make him more aware and consequently a better cop. Not so with
Mitch. who is nearly incapacitated by the new arrangement. Not only does the veteran detective find himself headlining a project he hates, with a partner he swore he wouldn't work with "in a million years," but for the first time in his life he has to try to do his job in the glare of bright lights with a producer's assistant advising him how to stand so as not to block the camera or dislodge his microphone -- and all this is even before the show remodels his apartment and forces him to adopt a dog to improve his image for the viewers.
Even under the best of circumstances, this kind of command performance would not be Mitch's idea of a good time, but right now, considering the enormity of the case he's working on, it's a huge impediment. It turns out that the petty drug dealers Mitch and Trey originally encountered during that botched sting operation are employed by a ruthless crime lord named Vargas (played by award-winning television director and producer Pedro Damian, currently appearing in Collateral Damage). Vargas' latest investment, to augment his drug trade, is a cache of the most powerful armor-piercing hand-held machine guns ever designed, which would unleash absolute chaos citywide if they hit the streets.
Shutting Vargas down and intercepting the deadly cargo could be the single most important accomplishment of Mitch's law enforcement career, but he's not having much success impressing this upon the people around him who seem more concerned about wardrobe selections and re-decorating the precinct -- including his so-called partner.
"The comedy and act
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