April 13, 2012 12:48pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'NYC 22' EP Jane Rosenthal on the Influence of 'The Wire's' Richard Price, Working With Robert De Niro and New York as a Character
CBS' freshman drama NYC 22 is more than just another police procedural, if you ask executive producer Jane Rosenthal.
The co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, which kicks off its 11th year Wednesday, says she and Tribeca Productions' co-founder Robert De Niro wanted to tell a different story about a group of police officers based in the city in a post-9/11 world.
Which is where NYC 22 comes in. The gritty drama, which premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. on CBS, revolves around six diverse NYPD rookie cops who learn to work the beat amid precinct and personal politics.
The new trainees include Ray "Lazarus" Harper (Adam Goldberg), a former journalist who turned to a career in law enforcement after being laid off; Jennifer "White House" Perry (Leelee Sobieski), a former White House guard; Kenny McLaren (Stark Sands), the latest in a family of cops; Tonya Sanchez (Judy Marte), who goes against her law-breaking family and joins the force; Ahmad Khan (Tom Reed), an Afghan cop who is tasked with battling ethnic stereotypes from all sides; and Jayson "Jackpot" Toney (Harold House Moore), a former NBA star who lost everything after a knee injury.
Here are three reasons to watch CBS' rookie drama.
1. Richard Price. The author -- and former The Wire scribe -- created, writes and executive produces the series. Price, who was born in the Bronx and grew up in a housing project nearby, brings his gritty New York sensibilities to the series. "He has a very clear eye and a nuanced speech that's very specific to New York and telling urban stories," Rosenthal tells The Hollywood Reporter. "That's what was of interest to us." De Niro and Rosenthal both have a history with the scribe, having previously worked with him on the 1992 feature Night in the City, among others.
2. New York is a character. The series is specifically set in a neighborhood like Harlem, which Rosenthal notes is a constantly changing and diverse part of the city. "As a New Yorker in a post-9/11 word, it's a look at who the first line of defense is: Who are the first to run in, who are the first to run out?" Rosenthal says. "It's wanting to find out who those people are, what makes up their back story, what gives them the desire to be on the force and Richard is someone who can provide amazing portraits of people and the characters in the city. New York is very much a vibrant character, that was very much our intention."
3. De Niro was heavily involved in every part of the process. "He looked at all the cuts and gave notes," says Rosenthal, adding that her Tribeca partner had a hand in the casting process as well. "He was always there as a guiding hand."
Will you watch NYC 22? Check out a trailer for the series below.