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3 YEARS

TCA: 5 Things To Know About 'The Firm'

From star Josh Lucas' involvement in a jury trial to Mitch McDeere's bad luck picking law firms, the cast and executive producer preview the upcoming NBC drama.

The Firm NBC TCA Panel - H 2012
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
"The Firm's" Lukas Reiter, Molly Parker, Josh Lucas, Juliette Lewis and Callum Keith Rennie

When NBC's The Firm premieres Sunday, 10 years will have past since Mitch and Abby McDeere went into the federal witness protection program, with the couple stepping back into their identities and running their own small firm.

Starring Josh Lucas in the series based on the book and subsequent film by John Grisham, the cast -- including Molly Parker, Callum Keith Rennie and Juliette Lewis -- and executive producer Lukas Reiter dished on the association with the Tom Cruise pic and just why Mitch re-assumes his former identity in an era of Google. Here are five things to know about the series.

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1. Mitch can't pick the right firm. Again. After selecting the wrong firm to join in the novel/movie, McDeere looks to join another mega-firm when he lands a case that's bigger than his small start-up legal shop can handle. In the two-hour pilot, McDeere has learned his lesson and, rather than have the firm gobble him up, opts to maintain some autonomy. "We're trying hard to be smart about that," Reiter told reporters. Needless to say, his new bosses want more than Mitch's big case.

2. Will the series stand on its own? Both, Reiter said. Calling the story a "classic," the exec producer said his goal was to create something that those who love the movie and dbook would be able to find and recognize while also creating a new series that people those new to the franchise could easily understand and get caught up with. Noting he was a longtime fan of the series, he set up meetings with Grisham, who he noted "was on board from the beginning."

3. Returning to his old identity in the age of Google. After being in the witness protection program for 10 years using new identities, the McDeeres resume their former lives -- and names. Quizzed by reporters on why the characters would do such a thing considering their troubled past, Reiter defended the decision. "When Mitch finally feels like the coast is clear, he's going to reclaim his name and independence and walk out there and not have to live his life in fear," he said. Added Parker, who plays Mitch's wife and legal partner Abby: "They value having a real life after 10 years of not."

4. An homage to Tom Cruise. Noting that he thought Cruise's performance in the 1990s feature was "beautiful," Lucas said he hopes to find a way to incorporate some of the subtlety that Cruise brought to the big screen role, citing small moments like a piece of toilet paper stuck to his cheek after Mitch cuts himself shaving. "Those little moments, hopefully that's a direct connection to movie," he said.

5. Real courtroom action. Lucas told reporters that he was part of a jury trial last year in which the defendant was sentenced to life and was "fascinated by the drama of the law." After spending a lot of time in courtrooms prepping for his role in the big-screen feature The Lincoln Lawyer, Lucas said he felt he hadn't seen a John Grisham thriller on TV yet and was attracted to the script's hybrid legal/action thriller style.

The Firm's two-hour seriespremiere airs Sunday at 9 p.m., before settling into its regular Thursday at 8 p.m. slot.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit