FX cops first drama

'Rampart' chronicles rogue LAPD officers

NEW YORK — FX, the Fox-owned cable network, expects to push the boundaries of language and other content with “Rampart,” a cop show loosely based on the recent headline-making stories of police corruption at the Rampart Division of the LAPD.

“I wrote the pilot as though it were a drama show aimed at HBO or Showtime,” said Shawn Ryan (“Angel,” “Nash Bridges”), the creator and executive producer of “Rampart,” referring to the extraordinary freedom from censorship enjoyed by pay-TV networks.

“Rampart” is the first drama series commissioned by FX. Based on the completed pilot, which sources say cost about $1.5 million, FX has commissioned another 12 hourlong episodes, to be filmed in jagged, documentary style in some of the more rundown areas of Los Angeles. “We’ll show you a part of L.A. you never see on other cop shows,” said Ryan. The star is Michael Chiklis (“The Commish”), who plays a rogue cop.

L.A. shoot boosts budget

Ryan declined to comment on the cost, but one source said Fox TV Studios, the producer, will lay out about $1.2 million an episode. The budget is higher than usual for a cable-network series, marked up by the decision to film it in L.A., not Canada. Production gets under way in November for a slot on the FX schedule in spring 2002.

“I look on Los Angeles as another character in the series,” Ryan said. “There’s no way we could’ve made it in Toronto or Vancouver.”

The series won’t be a docudrama about the cops of the Rampart Division, but Ryan said the scandal was the main spur that led him to write the pilot about cops who don’t think twice about breaking the law themselves if it results in clearing the streets of criminals. Some cops on the series will also flout the law to get their hands on illegal money.

The network has two half-hour scripted comedies: “Son of the Beach,” from Howard Stern Prods. and Fox TV Studios, going into its third season; and the forthcoming “Bad News, Mr. Swanson,” produced by Columbia TriStar TV Distribution.

Scott Brazil is co-executive producer of “Rampart,” and the actor Clark Johnson (“Homicide”) is the director. Other cast members include Benito Martinez and C.C.H. Pounder. FX is now in 72 million cable and satellite homes.

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