×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Homicide: Life on the Street’ Cast Reunites at Paley Center

Someone managed to get Detective Frank Pembleton back in the box.

Members of the cast and production team of the critically acclaimed NBC drama “Homicide: Life on the Street” came together at the Paley Center in New York to talk about the distinctive drama that flouted many of the conventions of network TV. The main focus of the show, which ran between 1993 and 1999, was on how Baltimore police detectives passed the time while trying to solve murders. But there were few car chases, shootings or dramatic arrest scenes. “Every episode was like an affront to network television,” noted Andre Braugher, who played Detective Pembleton on the program and came to wider fame while working on it.

Producer Barry Levinson, showrunner Tom Fontana,  producers Julie Martin and Anya Epstein; cast members Richard Belzer, Braugher and Clark Johnson; and writer David Simon, whose book, “Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets,” became the inspiration for the program, all sat at the Paley for a panel moderated by Courtney Kemp, creator of the Starz series, “Power.”

From the outset, Levinson and Fontana noted, “Homicide” was unlike standard TV fare. NBC had no say over casting or scripts, for example, and the first season of the program had a washed out look Fontana believed heightened the aesthetic of the series. “Homicide” won renown for the diversity of its cast, which the producers said was meant to reflect the demographics of Baltimore, where it was filmed.

Braugher said he was stunned to be considered for the role of Pembleton, a hard-driving, no-nonsense detective who became the series’ breakout character. “Are they really going to give a black man this role,”” Braugher says he recalled thinking during the audition process. “I’ve really got to play this. I’ve got to play the hell out of this. I’m gonna tear the whole thing to shreds.”

As the series continued, some plotlines would take an entire season to resolve. And much of the focus was on conversations held by cast members in cars and bars and on street corners in moments between working on solving various cases.  The series was basically “guys talking about s–t while they are trying to solve a murder,” said Martin.

Other members of the cast included Yahpet Kotto, Melissa Leo, Daniel Baldwin, Kyle Secor, Callie Thorne, Jon Polito, Ned Beatty, Jon Seda, Reed Diamond, Michael Michelle, Peter Gerety, Isabella Hoffman, Toni Lewis, Max Perlich and Giancarlo Esposito.

The panel addressed everything from cast changes and favorite episodes, some of which included one of the series most notable, in which a man is hit by a subway train at a Baltimore station.  And they reminisced about things such as notable guest stars, including Robin Williams.

“We got to break all the rules and still have fun,” noted Fontana.

 

 

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Hailee SteinfeldTribeca TV Festival 2019 Presents

    Hailee Steinfeld Announces New Single Tied to Apple TV Plus' 'Dickinson'

    Actress, singer and producer Hailee Steinfeld is set to release a new single entitled “Afterlife” on Sept. 19, a track she created for her upcoming Apple TV Plus series,”Dickinson.” “This is a song I’m incredibly proud of, and I feel like after embodying this character, I have a more fearless approach to my writing,” Steinfeld [...]

  • Rachel Bloom

    Rachel Bloom Announces Pregnancy After Emmy Win

    “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star Rachel Bloom made a special announcement after winning her Emmy for best original music and lyrics — she is pregnant. Bloom announced the news backstage on Saturday at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. She joked she had planned to reveal the news on Instagram but that doing it at the Emmys was even [...]

  • EVIL is a psychological mystery that

    TV Review: 'Evil'

    In its pilot installment, CBS’s new drama “Evil” delves into that which may lie beyond the rationally explicable. And the show itself represents something almost supernatural by 2019 standards, too: A well-made hour fueled by chemistry between its leads and a strong idea of itself. On the basis of its debut outing, which screened at [...]

  • Emmy Awards Placeholder

    Creative Arts Emmys: 'Free Solo,' 'Queer Eye' Among Big Winners on Night 1 (Full List)

    “Free Solo,” “Queer Eye,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Saturday Night Live” were among the big winners Saturday after the first night of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles. “Free Solo,” the National Geographic feature documentary that already claimed the Oscar earlier this year, lead the field on the [...]

  • Gary Cole, Christina Anthony, Tika Sumpter,

    'Mixed-ish' Team on Why 'All Stories About "Others" Are Necessary'

    The producers and cast of “Mixed-ish” are not out to tell a singular black and white story — but one that showcases and celebrates all shades in between. “It’s important for me across the board in all of my work to talk about ‘otherness’ and identity and real, grounded characters,” showrunner Karin Gist told Variety [...]

  • Shane Gillis

    Comedians Condemn Shane Gillis Over Slurs

    “Saturday Night Live” showrunner Lorne Michaels has yet to comment on the racist and homophobic remarks made by newly hired cast member Shane Gillis, but comedians and actors are expressing their condemnation on social media, some even asking that he be fired from the show.  Footage of Gillis’s podcast, “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast,” was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content