Authority figure surrounds himself with misfits to fight crime. It could be “The Dirty Dozen,” it could be “The A-Team,” it could be “Mission: Impossible” … it could be “Charlie’s Angels,” for Pete’s sake. But this time around, it’s “Hollywood Confidential,” 1996 Paramount series pilot making belated premiere on UPN.
Series pilot (with 1995 copyright date and bearing no relationship whatsoever with upcoming feature “L.A. Confidential”) holds two distinctions: as acting vehicle for producer-writer Anthony Yerkovich, and as possible candidate for compilation “Charlize Theron — the Early Years” if transplanted South African actress’s burgeoning feature career (Daily Variety, April 9) takes off.
Real question around industry water coolers though, will be future of Yerkovich as an actor. Let’s put it this way: Stephen J. Cannell has nothing to worry about. Curiously, print supplied for review is missing Yerkovich’s actor billing altogether — this despite that his character is essentially second lead.
Edward James Olmos stars as Stan Navarro, LAPD vet who starts his own P.I. business to “handle the kind of stuff you’ll never see on ‘Entertainment Tonight.’ ” Like, maybe, a break-in at George Clooney’s house?
In any event, Navarro’s operatives include Joey di Rosa (Rick Aiello), streetwise (as they say) former leg man for a Mob lawyer; Sally Bowen (Theron), an actress with only a few commercials to her credit; Dexter Fontaine (Richard T. Jones), who quit the Sheriff’s Dept. to become upwardly mobile; Mike Mooney (Brendan Kelly), who’s been thrown off Chicago and Las Vegas police departments — among others — for being too rough with suspects; and former Drug Enforcement Agency op Jack Hansen (Yerkovich), whose clipped narration turns out to be from a journal he’s keeping for a creative writing class.
There are two cases in the film (or opening episode, whatever): One finds a squeaky-clean director (Brent Huff) having trouble dropping his teenage mistress (Sarah Lassez) (“He’s receiving the Norma Melnick award tomorrow night at the Century Plaza,” director’s agent snaps at Navarro. “Do you have any idea what that means?”); second is something-or-another involving the background investigation of an acting coach (Kristen Dalton), about to make a production deal with a Big Studio.
Neither of these storylines is particularly captivating, and show falls into typical pilot trap of trying to establishing all its characters at once.
Presumably, future episodes would be more interesting, and a couple of characters show promise (tension between Fontaine, who is black, and Mooney, who at least pretends to look down as much on African-Americans as he does everyone else, could be interesting).
As writer and producer, Yerkovich has too many strong credits — “Hill Street Blues” and Miami Vice” among them — to let this one stand in his way; while it looks all bright and shiny, film shows its age with reference to “Central Park West,” and scripter Yerkovich’s (temporary) creative lapse with use of the old pistol-cigarette trick. Script includes dud neologism “gosh-damned.”
Dancers in a nightclub that Bowen has infiltrated as a cocktail waitress (does this all sound familiar?) are boogalooing to Isaac Hayes’ theme from “Shaft,” which at least is in keeping with the retro feeling of the film in general.
“I’m just here until something else comes along,” snarls Hansen-Yerkovich at one point. Goodbye, and hello.