Since doing research for his 1981 film “Prince of the City,” veteran director Sidney Lumet has wanted to delve into the world of the prosecutors, defense attorneys and accused who inhabit New York’s night court.
With “100 Centre Street,” the first weekly hourlong drama series to premiere on A&E, the director — who has successfully mined the courtroom genre in films such as “12 Angry Men” and “The Verdict” — will finally get his chance.
“It’s a place where lives are decided,” says Lumet, who at age 76 is as vital as ever.
After a 40-year absence from the small screen, Lumet– who began his career as a leading director of live television in the 1950s– will exec produce the series, which will debut in January. He’s also committed to write and direct the pilot and several episodes. Former “Law & Order” writer David Black will bring some grittiness to the affair as exec producer and writer.
With a stellar cast led by Alan Arkin as a soft-hearted judge, “100 Centre Street” promises to be ultrarealistic. Shot primarily on location in Gotham, the series will be produced on high-definition video.
“We would not have dared to undertake such a production (especially in high-def) were we not in the hands of one of the true princes of New York City and one of the great directors of our times,” says Allen Sabinson, A&E’s senior VP of programming.
Originally shopped to broadcast networks, “Centre Street” was at one point set up at NBC, according to Lu-met. But the director favored cable because it allows “great freedom with subject matter. When I had meetings at the networks, there were eight people in the room with a different opinion. At A&E, they let me do my thing.”