Courtney B. Vance has found his next leading role.
“61st Street,” which has been ordered as a two-season television event series with eight episodes per season, is a courtroom drama that follows Moses Johnson, a promising, black high school athlete, who is swept up into the infamously corrupt Chicago criminal justice system. Taken by the police as a supposed gang member, he finds himself in the eye of the storm as police and prosecutors seek revenge for the death of an officer during a drug bust gone wrong.
Vance will play the role of Franklin Roberts, a public defender in the twilight of his career serving the busiest courthouse in America. After promising his wife he’d retire to spend more time with their seventeen-year-old autistic son, Franklin realizes Moses is the case of a lifetime, one that can upend the entire Chicago judicial system, challenging the institutional racism and endemic corruption at its heart.
The announcement of Vance’s casting was made by AMC Networks and AMC Studios president Sarah Barnett at the network’s Television Critics’ Association press tour day.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have the phenomenal Courtney B. Vance returning to the courtroom for ‘61st Street.’ Courtney is the cornerstone of what’s sure to be a stellar ensemble for this ambitious and highly entertaining drama,” said Barnett.
Vance was recently cast in Nat Geo’s “Genius” series, opposite Cynthia Erivo who is playing Aretha Franklin, and later this year he will also star in HBO’s Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams series “Lovecraft Country.” He is arguably best known on the TV side for playing Johnnie Cochran on FX’s “The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” for which he won an Emmy.
Jordan is exec producing the series via his Outlier Society production banner. In addition to Moffat and Jordan, EPs on the show include Alana Mayo of Outlier Society and Hilary Salmon of BBC Studios.
The network has also announced the cast for its six-part anthology series “Soulmates.”
“Stranger Things” standout Charlie Heaton, Malin Akerman, Betsy Brandt and JJ Feild are have joined the cast of the show that examines the nature of romantic love. “Soulmates” is written by “Black Mirror” alum Will Bridges and Brett Goldstein.
The quartet of actors join previously announced cast, including Sarah Snook, David Costabile and Sonya Cassidy, among others.