If it feels like you can’t watch Sunday Night Football without seeing at least 15 ads for NBC’s Bluff City Law, it’s because the network’s newest legal premieres on September 23, and it’s expected to be their next big hit. Marking veteran, Golden Globe award-winning actor Jimmy Smits‘ prodigal return to TV as a series regular, NBC is banking on the show’s success, and before the show even premiered, upgraded the series from its original 10 episode order to a full season run.
Heavy was able to visit the Bluff City Law set, which films on location in Memphis, Tennessee, and watch the cast film on their newly constructed set, get a sneak-peak of what’s to come from executive producer David Janollari (Six Feet Under, Friends), and interview newcomer actress, the luminous Caitlin McGee, who stars opposite Smits as his daughter, Sydney Strait.
We also spoke with the actors who make up the show’s impressive ensemble cast: Barry Sloane (L.A.’s Finest, Revenge), Jayne Atkinson, Michael Luwoye, Maameyaa Boafo (The Blacklist, Chicago Med,) and Stony Blyden.
Here’s what you need to know about Bluff City Law….
1. Jimmy Smits, Who Won Six Consecutive Emmy Noms for ‘L.A. Law,’ Is Back Playing a Lawyer
If something just feels right about Smits playing an attorney on TV, it’s because the 64-year-old actor, who was born in Brooklyn, played lawyer Victor Sifuentes on the award-winning crime drama L.A. Law from 1986 to 1992. During the show’s run, he was nominated for a Golden Globe and six-consecutive Emmy noms, taking home the trophy Outstanding Supporting Actor in 1990. He also won a Golden Globe for his work on NYPD Blue in 1993, and with Bluff City Law, Smits could bring home even more hardware playing a legal master mind.
While Smits was recently a principle guest star opposite Viola Davis on ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, with memorable arcs on Showtime’s Dexter, AMC’s Son’s of Anarchy, The West Wing, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The Get-Down, this is his first return to TV as a series regular in over a decade.
2. The Father/Daughter Relationship Is the Heart of the Series
Similar to many legal dramas, Bluff City Law will highlight new cases each week, but the true heart of the series lies in the complicated relationship between lawyer Elijah Strait (Smits), whom after a tragic turn of events, is able to enlist his daughter, Sydney Strait (McGee), a powerful big-time attorney in her own right, to re-join his firm. With a solid ensemble cast, the show will also delve into the equally sordid lives of the rest of the firm.
Sydney’s relationship with her father is strained at best, and the only reason she returns to work with Elijah is after her philanthropist mother suddenly dies. After years of working with big corporate firms, Sidney’s return to work with her father is more about wanting to fight for the good guys, and less about fixing the damaged relationship with her Dad.
3. The Entire Cast Is on A Hilarious Group Text Chain
It’s almost a tired trope to hear actors to say they “love everyone in the cast” and that “everyone is so great,” however, with the cast of Bluff City Law, because everyone relocated to Memphis for filming, a city which will serve more than just a back drop story-wise, the actors actually formed a real bond with one another, and their ongoing text chain came up in conversation numerous times.
Smits, McGee, and the entire ensemble cast mention that Jayne Atkinson (House of Cards, 24, Madame Secretary) is the GIF queen. Atkinson admits that she can’t end a text chat without sending the popular dancing pig gif. “That is me,” she said.
4. Michael Luwoye Played Hamilton in ‘Hamilton’ on Broadway
Perhaps, a reason the cast gets along so well, they are all trained and seasoned theatre actors. Michael Luwoye, who plays Anthony Little on Bluff City Law, took over the lead role of Alexander Hamilton for show creator Lin Manuel-Miranda on Broadway. He’s the only actor to ever play both Hamilton, and the opposite lead of Aaron Burr in the show. Fun fact, co-star Smits will be in Miranda’s upcoming film version of his musical, In the Heights, which is set to be released nationwide on June 26, 2020.
Luwoye’s TV credits include guest starring on Syfy’s The Magicians, a recurring in Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It, and this marks his first role as a series regular on primetime TV. Of course, we asked if there would be a future episode of Bluff City Law where Luwoye’s character would sing, and praise be, the answer was “Yes.”
5. ‘Bluff City Law’ Tackles Controversial Headline Topics
Executive Producer Dave Janollari, along with series writer Bill Chaise, confirmed to Heavy that Bluff City Law will not veer from tackling some of society’s most pressing social issues. There will be episodes reminiscent of Charlottesville, the opioid crises, 1st Amendment issues, and wrongful imprisonment.