‘Homicide’ gets Esposito

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Actor Giancarlo Esposito is joining the cast of NBC’s Friday-night drama “Homicide.”

Esposito has starred in films such as “Nothing to Lose,” “The Usual Suspects,” “Twilight,” “Smoke,” “Waiting to Exhale” and Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” “Mo’ Better Blues,” “Do the Right Thing” and “School Daze.”

He also was a regular on the Fox series “Bakersfield, P.D.” and he’s appeared in numerous other TV series, telefilms and legit shows, including the Broadway production of “Sacrilege” with Ellen Burstyn and eight musicals.

“I think we always look for an actor with enormous range and someone who is believable as a cop,” said “Homicide” ex-ecutive producer Tom Fontana. “He’s both. He can do comedy, romance and drama, and when you put a gun in his hand, you believe he knows how to use it.”

Esposito’s TV guest roles, in fact, include stints on several other cop series, including “NYPD Blue,” “Nash Bridges,” “New York Undercover” and “Swift Justice.”

Fontana has worked with Esposito in the past doing theater and an ABC pilot, but Fontana said it’s the first time he’ll get to write for the actor. Esposito will play the long-estranged son of character Lt. Al Giardello, played by actor Yaphet Kotto.

Esposito’s character is an FBI agent assigned to the violent crimes unit of the Baltimore police department, resulting in conflicts with his father and other detectives who question his loyalties.

“Homicide,” which is going into its seventh season, recently lost several key cast members, including Andre Braugher, Reed Diamond and Michelle Forbes. Fontana said Esposito is not really a replacement for any one of them and that the biggest challenge in the seventh season isn’t finding replacements, but “keeping it fresh and maintaining the quality.”

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