Phillips faces ‘Adversaries’

Wells-produced courtroom drama co-stars Ravera

NEW YORK — “ER” executive producer John Wells has landed Lou Diamond Phillips to star in “Adversaries,” Wells’ first post-“ER” series creation for NBC and Warner Bros. Diamond will play a deputy district attorney alongside a female public defender played by Gina Ravera (“Soul Food”).

Filming of the two-hour pilot will begin in Washington, D.C., this week. The pilot will concentrate on those two characters, and the series is expected to broaden into a multicharacter drama much like “ER.”

Strong ensemble cast

For the series, Wells has put together a strong ensemble cast. The series essentially pits the public defender’s office against the U.S. attorney’s office. On the public defender side, Ravera is joined by Paige Turco, most recently seen in “NYPD Blue” and “Party of Five,” Tyra Farrell (“Poetic Justice”) and Jim Stanek, who comes with Broadway credentials (“Indiscretions”). On the U.S. Attorney’s office side, Phillips stars with film veteran Keith David (“Platoon”) and Marc Grapey (“The Day Trippers”), with “Hill Street Blues” vet Bruce Weitz playing a recurring role running the office.

Lots of ‘ER’ talent

Behind the camera, Wells is heavily relying on the talent that helped establish “ER” as TV’s top-rated show. The pilot episode was written by Paul Manning, a producer on “ER” who is the series co-creator and co-executive producer with Wells.

Chris Chulack, the Emmy-winning “ER” director, is helming the pilot episode. The pilot is the first to go into production under the multiseries pact Wells signed with WB and NBC. It will be one of two Wells-hatched series vying for a fall slot on the NBC schedule.

Set in Hell’s Kitchen

The other is “Trinity,” the Matthew Carnahan-scripted drama about a big Irish family from Gotham’s Hell’s Kitchen, with one brother a priest, another a cop, another a mobster and one a junkie. Wells is exec producing that series, and Tate Donovan is the first confirmed casting, with Michael Caton-Jones (“The Jackal”) directing the pilot. As a midseason replacement, Wells has “West Wing,” which he’s co-exec producing with Aaron Sorkin, who wrote “A Few Good Men.” Sorkin scripted the pilot, which sets up the timely scenario of young staffers at the White House.

A first for Phillips

“Adversaries” is the first series foray for Phillips, who recently did a 500-performance stint as the King of Siam in the Broadway revival of “The King and I,” for which he was Tony-nominated. Phillips, who came to fame playing Richie Valens in “La Bamba,” will next be seen starring in the Kirk Wong-directed “The Big Hit” for TriStar, which opens April 30.

Phillips, who also turned in an acclaimed performance in the Ed Zwick-directed Fox 2000 film “Courage Under Fire,” is managed by Rigberg-Roberts Management and Innovative Artists.

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