D.C. Is the Place to Be for Fall TV’s New Lineup

Posted September 21, 2005 at 5:10pm

Though it’s not known as the Hollywood of the East Coast, Washington, D.C., is easily becoming a TV and film production lot thanks to the fall 2005 TV schedule. Last spring, three networks — Fox, NBC and ABC — filmed episodes for their new dramas set in the District and Northern Virginia, “Bones,” “E-Ring” and “Commander in Chief.”

‘Bones’ (Fox, Tuesdays at 8 p.m.). The drama “Bones” is based on the life events of Kathy Reichs, a forensic anthropologist and author. Unlike her real life where Reichs works in North Carolina and Canada specifically, the “Bones” version of Reichs, Dr. Temperance Brennan, is based in Washington, D.C., and works at the Jeffersonian (Smithsonian, anyone?) Institution’s Medico-Legal Lab.

So far, “Bones” has been compared to “The X Files,” “Crossing Jordan” and “CSI,” but this drama looks heads above your typical prime-time forensics investigation show. It’s already placed in a great time slot and has become a ratings champ for the network since it premiered on Sept. 13, coming on just before Fox’s acclaimed medical drama, “House.”

“Bones” stars Emily Deschanel as Reichs’s Brennan and David Boreanaz (formerly of “Angel” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) as FBI agent Seeley Booth, who team up to discover the truth behind bizarre murders and, naturally, to stop bad guys.

The main characters, despite being opposites, have a strong chemistry that’s responsible for the show’s name — Deschanel’s character is affectionately called “Bones” by Agent Booth. Their chemistry brings a direct comparison to “The X Files” and its stars — Booth says to Bones in a recent episode, “What? Do you want me to spit in my hand? We’re Scully and Mulder,” to which Bones replies, “I don’t know what that means.”

Fox may indeed have a forensic hit on its hands, if ratings keep on the up and the show can develop a solid fan base comparable to CBS’ “CSI” series.

‘E-Ring’ (NBC, Wednesdays at 9 p.m.). Acclaimed actor Dennis Hopper is now on the small screen starring in the NBC drama “E-Ring.” First actors Gary Sinise of “CSI: NY,” James Caan of “Las Vegas” and Kiefer Sutherland of “24” made the leap to leading a TV series in the past few years, now Hopper. Who’s next in line, Jack Nicholson? Although Hopper began his acting career appearing on television shows, he is most well-known for his work in such classic films as “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Easy Rider,” “Apocalypse Now” and “Hoosiers.” Can he make the transition to a prime-time TV spot smoothly?

Starring alongside Hopper in “E-Ring” is Benjamin Bratt, better known as the tough, yet sensible Det. Rey Curtis from NBC’s “Law and Order.”

“E-Ring” features Hopper and Bratt as military veterans working at the Pentagon, faced with an array of situations threatening the safety of the United States, and it focuses on how they cope with their inside knowledge of the goings-on at the nation’s fortress, both on and off the job. The show is based on the experiences of its co-creator and producer, Ken Robinson. Robinson worked at the Pentagon under Vice President Cheney, when he was secretary of Defense. In addition, he served in the Persian Gulf War, as part of the Special Operations unit under the secretary of Defense, and in a number of other intelligence roles at the Pentagon.

The combination of Hopper as Col. Eli McNulty and Bratt as Major J.T. Tisnewski should prove to be a good one considering the two are great actors in their own right, as long as TV viewers are interested in getting a taste of what’s inside the Pentagon.

The action drama features Jerry Bruckheimer, executive producer mastermind of such hit shows as “CSI” and “The Amazing Race,” and the “E-Ring” Sept. 21 pilot episode was produced by Taylor Hackford, of Oscar-winning “Ray” fame.

‘Commander in Chief’ (ABC, Tuesdays, at 9 p.m.). “Commander in Chief,” which will premiere Sept. 27, features another big-screen name — this time Geena Davis — as Mackenzie Allen, the first female president of the United States.

The plot involves Allen, who moved from vice president to the chief spot after the president died from a sudden brain aneurysm. The plot waxes more unbelievable to make Allen an Independent president, fighting not only with the intimidating actor Donald Sutherland, cast as the Republican Speaker, but also Allen’s own chief of staff, played by Natasha Henstridge. Allen has to go to battle with those two thorns, in addition to raising her children and coping with her husband’s shock of becoming first gentleman.

This role will be quite the challenge for Davis, as her last efforts on TV weren’t very fruitful. Her attempt prior to “Commander in Chief” was the short-lived 2000 comedy “The Geena Davis Show.”

According to Entertainment Weekly, show creator Rod Lurie decided to take a risk on Davis after film actresses Joan Allen and Sigourney Weaver both turned the role of Allen down.

Etc … Going Presidential. Speaking of presidents, the WB is planning to use 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW as a backdrop for a 2007 TV series, “The People’s House.” According to Variety, “The People’s House” screenwriter Stacey Sherman has sold the script to the network and the comedy is now in production. No word yet on who will star in the comedy, featuring the story of a fallout between the president and the first lady due to the former’s philandering ways. The script begins with the first lady filing for divorce from her husband and has her booting him out of the White House.

“Because the first couple has few personal assets beyond the promise of future riches from memoirs and speaking engagements, she’s granted custody of the most famous residence in D.C. The most powerful world leader finds himself sleeping in his childhood bedroom, returning to the Oval Office only for work,” Variety reported.

The WB and Imagine Entertainment will team up on the project, and it also will feature Brian Grazer as producer and Sherman’s husband, Billy Ray, as executive producer.