Jimmy Smits prac­tices ‘Bluff City Law’ on NBC

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - On Tap -

Jimmy Smits won an Emmy Award dur­ing his ten­ure on “L.A. Law,” but he’s still hav­ing to brush up on le­gal mat­ters for his new se­ries role. With stints on such other shows as “NYPD Blue,” “The West Wing,” “Dex­ter” and “Sons of An­ar­chy” also un­der his belt, the ac­tor re­turns to weekly tele­vi­sion as the NBC drama “Bluff City Law” pre­mieres Mon­day, Sept. 23. Smits stars as renowned Mem­phis lawyer Eli­jah Strait, who re­unites with his im­pul­sive at­tor­ney daugh­ter Syd­ney (played by Caitlin McGee) upon her mother’s death. She pon­ders his of­fer to rejoin his firm, though their vastly dif­fer­ing styles sig­nal com­pli­ca­tions to come. Af­ter por­tray­ing “L.A. Law’s” ide­al­is­tic Vic­tor Si­fuentes, the sin­cere Smits notes that his new al­ter ego Strait “doesn’t have the kind of bounce in the same way. Luck­ily, be­sides hav­ing a re­ally great pi­lot script that is a won­der­ful jump-off point for all these char­ac­ters and this (fa­ther-daugh­ter) re­la­tion­ship, we had some re­ally great tech­ni­cal peo­ple that were able to work with us that are (Mem­phis) at­tor­neys ... and a par­tic­u­lar duo that have the same type of fa­ther-and-daugh­ter re­la­tion­ship. That was re­ally help­ful as well.” Co-star McGee rea­sons that her new con­nec­tion to Smits “re­flects our re­la­tion­ship in the show as well as our re­la­tion­ship in life. He has more ex­pe­ri­ence as an ac­tor than I do. We’re all just get­ting to know these char­ac­ters, and how we ap­proach the law in the show is very dif­fer­ent. He’s con­ser­va­tive (in the se­ries), and I like to wage war and get thrown in jail and such, but I think it’s just fun to work with some­one who has that ex­pe­ri­ence. We’re all start­ing from scratch with these peo­ple and get­ting to know them our­selves.” Se­ries cre­ator and writer Dean Ge­or­garis (“The Brave”) vows that “Bluff City Law’s” cases will stay in step with the times: “Is­sues like free speech, is­sues like pri­vacy, these are things that we’re all talk­ing about right now. Frankly, it’s a re­ally in­ter­est­ing time be­cause these def­i­ni­tions are changing. Ev­ery week, we’ll be tak­ing those on – and, by the way, some­times from a more comedic per­spec­tive. If it’s all drama, I think it doesn’t feel real. If you don’t laugh ev­ery now and then, it’s not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of life.” With fel­low “24” alum Jayne Atkin­son also in the “Bluff City Law” cast, Smits says the de­ci­sion to tackle an­other se­ries doesn’t come eas­ily for him. Ad­mit­ting that the lo­ca­tion film­ing is leav­ing him “home­sick,” he notes, “The bottom line for me has got to be what’s on the page and who the peo­ple you’re go­ing to be work­ing with are. And, is the work go­ing to be chal­leng­ing?”

Caitlin McGee and Jimmy Smits star in “Bluff City Law,” pre­mier­ing Mon­day on NBC.

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