A foursome of producers from the NBC cult favorite “Homicide: Life on the Street” – Barry Levinson, Tom Fontana, Jim Finnerty and James Yoshimura – have begun casting for their new television series effort, FilmJerk.com has learned. Now known as “The Jury” (the project was formerly known as “The Circuit”), filming for the pilot episode will begin December 1 in New York.
The hour-long drama, which is now at Fox after ABC passed on the effort this past spring, will focus on the New York court system through the eyes of jurors. Levinson will direct the pilot, with Tom Fontana and James Yoshimura credited as writers. According to one of our sources, the series will be a midseason replacement, to begin airing in the first quarter of the year.
In the first episode, cop James Byrnes is accused in the hit and run death of a homeless man. The episode follows the selection of the jury and its deliberation, and intercuts scenes from the crime and behind-the-scenes attorney maneuverings.
The series, which will have both regular and recurring characters – reminiscent of Fontana’s work on the acclaimed HBO series “Oz” – is current casting several recurring characters in addition to one-episode roles. While neither of our sources would confirm who has been cast in the series as the leads, they told us the recurring parts include:
- Milton Bloom: The supervising District Attorney of lead character John Ranguso, Bloom is a liberal veteran whose language and thoughts are spoken fairly off the cuff. His office is a zoo and the chaos around him seems to match his own mind perfectly. As he talks to John about women & sex, often using outdated terms like “gams,” he randomly interjects trial-related questions into the middle of his own sentences. This character is in his 40 to 50s in age.
- Cazzie Walker: The court officer who stands by outside jury deliberation room, he is a fairly large man who has a physical confrontation with a claustrophobic juror during the series’ initial deliberation. He and another court officer have a playful relationship & make bets on the speed & outcome of the jury’s verdict. Producers are looking for an actor who possesses a good sense of humor for this 30s to 40s-ish character.
- Leticia Schikert: Viewers first meet the judge’s office clerk when she brings him a sandwich during a discussion in his chambers. In her 40s, she’s a motherly figure with a funny edge, she is concerned with the judge’s diet. Producers are looking for a character actress for this role.
- Gail Koeppel: A sexy Assistant District Attorney in her early 30s, she seems to be fairly close friends and co-workers with Ranguso.
- Jill Trivas: A public defender who plays one of the lead defense attorney’s friend and ex-coworker. Also in her 30s, she has a discussion with him while waiting for their respective clients in the courtroom. Trivas there admits that she does not like the cop that he is defending and, he, in turn, confides in Jill some of her doubts about the trial.
Among the juror roles in the first episode are a grammar school teacher, a nervous maintenance worker at Carnegie Hall who later suffers a panic attack, an MTA bus driver who has knowledge of where the case took place, a mellow bartender who serves as the jury forman, an office manager for Krispy Kreme, an Upper West Side bicycle shop owner, a former stockbroker between jobs and a PR copywriter that brings a nervous/youthful energy in jury room.
Executive Producers: Barry Levinson, Tom Fontana, Jim Finnerty and James Yoshimura
Director: Barry Levinson
Writers: Tom Fontana and James Yoshimura
Casting Directors: Ellen Chenoweth & Susie Farris
Start Date: December 1, 2003
Location: New York