Film and TV

If Code 58 Doesn't Nail How the Dallas PD and DA Do Business, It's Not For Lack of Trying

While Major Mike's off helping Haiti, I spent my Saturday on the Code 58 set at Fair Park, where Bradley Whitford, Colin Hanks and their castmates took a day off from filming Matt Nix's buddy-cop action-comedy to talk to local media in between publicity-still shoots. We'll have more forthcoming from a shooting-day set visit scheduled this week; expect something in the paper version of Unfair Park closer to the May sneaks on FOX, as the show shoots here till July.

Till then, then, a few quick odds and sods from the day, among them: Yesterday, Code 58 had company on the Fair Park grounds as NBC's The Biggest Loser was shooting in the Swine Building. Just as I walked by the building, 'round 1:30 in the afternoon, a white van full of contestants pulled up and emptied out into the attached arena. They were all wearing cowboy hats, and they did not look amused.

Back to Code 58, when Hanks first got a script, the series -- about a drunken burnout living in an Airstream parked beneath the Texas Star (Whitford) partnered with a clean-cut ambitious comer (Hanks) -- was set in Los Angeles. The show, Hanks tells Unfair Park, "did not change much" when Nix opted to set it in Dallas. But Hanks had just "begrudgingly moved back to L.A." when he was told, sorry, you're moving to Dallas. "But that's what it's like when you join the circus: As soon as you move, you get a job that takes you somewhere else," he says. "The only difference is, this job could conceivably go on for six years."

Whitford -- who, like Hanks, has been spending time with DPD officers and is due for a ride-along any day now -- says of the first episode's script, "The moment I read it, I said what anybody has to say after they read it. It's the first word that pops into your head: Foghat." Ah, yes -- "Slow Ride," a classic. "Take it easy," he says. "This was my heyday, unfortunately." Speaking of classic rock ...

"By the way," he says. "Do you know the name of the guitarist for Aerosmith?"

"Uh, yeah -- Joe Perry."

He squints. "The other one?"

"Brad Whitford."

"Yes. Isn't that weird? By the way, I got a residual check of his when I did not have employment," Whitford says. "I was living in apartment in New York, and I cashed it. I owe him $500."

At this point, I tell him, you could probably pay him back.

"Well, if we hit the back nine with this show ..." He laughs.

Jenny Wade is portraying Assistant District Attorney Liz Traynor, and to prep for the part she's been spending considerable time with Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins and First Assistant District Attorney Terri Moore. "Terri Moore is a bad-ass," Wade says. "She's amazing. I just stared at her all day. ... If you watch Terri Moore walk through the courthouse downtown, it's like the Red Sea parting. People hide their faces and pray to God. But she's way more honey than vinegar. She's smart, she's sharp, and she's beautiful."

Diana Maria Riva -- who's playing the cop duo's boss, Lt. Ana Ruiz -- is the only main cast member so far who's taken the Fair Park tour; she's well-versed in the history of the murals. "I want to come to the State Fair -- I want to experience it," she says. Riva, like Wade, has been spending time with her real-life counterpart -- in this case, DPD Lt. Jamie Keough, "who has been instrumental at getting me connected with other lieutenants in other divisions."

Among them: Lt. Scott Gerdes of the Police Technology Unit, who, she says, "broke it down and showed me how fingerprints are taken. And even if I don't talk about that in an episode, that's resident knowledge that should be in my character's head. They're also taking me on a ride-along, to a crime scene and on a helicopter ride." Riva has also met with Chief David Kunkle -- "a wonderful fan of television." Kunkle happened to mention that his missus, Sarah Dodd, appears in an episode of ABC's The Deep End. Oh, really?

And, too bad DPD's not going with the Code 58 cruiser -- beats all kinda heck out of the actual black-and-whites the department's about to roll out.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky