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TCA: ‘Defenders’ keeps it real, only less so

Defenders

CBS’ upcoming drama “The Defenders,” starring Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell, had an unusual development history – originating not as a creative pitch or a script, but a documentary envisioned as a reality series from Harry and Joe Gantz.

At the show’s Television Critics Assn. panel today, the Gantzes said they weren’t disappointed that audiences won’t see their project the way it was originally intentioned.

“It wasn’t a concession – it was a great opportunity,” Harry Gantz said. “We’ve been working to get a documentary series off the ground from the standpoint of the defense for about eight years. When CBS brought Niels (Mueller) and Kevin (Kennedy) aboard, they did a pilot script that was just amazing. It had a lot of spirit of the documentary.”

The Gantzes remain part of the show’s production team. They will continue to produce documentaries, though they admitted the difference with network scripted entertainment was noteworthy.

“When we shoot a documentary we have a crew about six,” Harry said. “When we go to the set, they have a crew of about 110.”

Vegas-friendly musical guests will be a part of the show, which Belushi commented upon.

“We’re in negotiations right now with the Blues Brothers,” Belushi said. “The Blues Brothers are trying to get a regular slot on the show.”

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