Writer, di­rec­tor trades zom­bies for mob­sters on L.A. noir drama

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - BOOKS - By Yvonne Vil­lar­real

LOS AN­GE­LES — On a balmy mid­sum­mer evening at Grif­fith Park, a game of TV cops and mob­sters is afoot. Guns are hol­stered, trench coats are cinched and bruises are be­ing smudged onto ac­tors. And then, in mock dra­matic fash­ion, Frank Darabont steps out of the shad­ows on the set of his 1940s L.A. noir drama Mob City and lights a cig­a­rette. “Time to play,” said the 54-year-old writer and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of the up­com­ing se­ries, which has its Cana­dian pre­miere Dec. 4 on Bravo. “We want peo­ple to dig this show.” He’s not the only one. For its U.S.cable home, TNT, which has largely traf­ficked in mid­dle-brow crime pro­ce­du­rals, sit­coms and re­al­ity pro­grams, the new mob drama with an en­vi­able pedi­gree among its cre­ative tal­ent rep­re­sents a bold gam­bit into the world of pres­tige drama — the kind that draws wide­spread crit­i­cal ac­claim, en­hances a net­work’s stand­ing and gar­ners award nom­i­na­tions. Suc­cess may even be more im­por­tant to Darabont, who in the mob-speak of The God­fa­ther films, would like to send a mes­sage to his for­mer em­ploy­ers at AMC, whom he now pub­licly refers to as “so­ciopaths.” Two years ago, the ba­sic cable net­work un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously booted Darabont from The Walk­ing Dead, a pow­er­house show he had de­vel­oped for tele­vi­sion and for which he had served as show run­ner. “I needed a good ex­pe­ri­ence af­ter the last one,” said Darabont, most fa­mous for di­rect­ing a pair of prison dra­mas, The Green Mile and The Shaw­shank Re­demp­tion. “I had plenty of bad feel­ings about do­ing TV again. But look, a horse tram­ples you, you can get back on the horse and ride some more, or you de­cide you’re never go­ing to ride again.” Mob City is loosely based on John Buntin’s non­fic­tion book L.A. Noir, which fo­cuses on the tu­mult swirling pro­ducer Michael De Luca, who had op­tioned the book, and now, the work is fi­nally com­ing to light. With elab­o­rate pro­duc­tion val­ues, the TV show cer­tainly takes its cues from the era and makes full use of noir sta­ples: shad­ows, voice-overs, and mood-set­ting jazz mu­sic. Nat­u­rally, there’s a con­flicted hero, Joe Teague (Jon Bern­thal, a Walk­ing Dead alum), a cop who walks a crooked line be­tween good and bad.

TNT

Jon Bern­thal plays a cop who walks a fine line be­tween good and bad on Mob City.

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