SheKnows arrived at the Law & Order: LA set in downtown LA expecting to see Law & Order with an extra touch of glitz and glam. Instead, we found the precinct, DA's offices and courthouse felt like the real Los Angeles!
Here's a tour of the new set of one of fall TV's most anticipated shows. Also, we've got your scoop on what to expect from LOLA, straight from Deputy DA's Alfred Molina and Regina Hall and executive producers Rene Balcer and Christopher Misiano (West Wing, Eli Stone), who have been with the Law & Order franchise from the beginning.
LOLA premieres Wednesday, September 29 on NBC after Law & Order: SVU, which spins off the new series with a visit to Los Angeles at 9 pm.
SheKnows: Los Angeles is known for its celeb drama: Will LOLA have stories about starlets like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan getting in trouble?
Rene Balcer: The first episode is kind of that, but we're not going to be a celebrity of the week show. It's just the first episode. Then we're going to get stories about more relatable folks.
Christopher Misiano: We're trying to see the whole city, rather than just that microcosm.
Rene Balcer: The original Law & Order, we would every now and then do an episode about a celebrity in New York. That's part of the fabric and it's fun to see our characters moving in that world, but the celebrity culture is a very small part of LA.
SheKnows: LA is home to over 140 different languages: Will we hear some of them?
Christopher Misiano: I don't know in terms of actually hearing the languages, but already, we've had several different cultures. We're trying to infuse it with that multicultural feel LA has.
Rene Balcer: In New York, there are all those languages, too, and they kind of mix together in Manhattan. In LA, they don't really mix. If you're Salvadorian, you're in this area. If you're Korean, you're here. [It's] a mosaic. The only place people mix is at the beach, Universal Amphitheater or City Walk. It gives us an opportunity, from episode to episode, to focus on a different area, so each episode takes on its own flavor.
SheKnows: Will hunky Skeet Ulrich show his sensitive side or is Det. Rex Winters a toughie?
Rene Balcer: His character is a former marine -- that's his soft side [laughs] -- who joined the LAPD just before the Rodney King riots. As a young rookie being thrown into that chaos, [he developed] a unique point of view about policing. He's a very empathic cop. I wouldn't say a touchy-feely guy, but if there's someone who can talk to victims of crimes, it's Rex Winters. The ladies are going to have lots of hunky guys. Corey Stoll, Terrence Howard...
Christopher Misiano: And Alfred Molina, depending on what you like.
SheKnows: What made you see Skeet in this role?
Christopher Misiano: He's obviously got an impressive resume, but what's happened with Skeet is he's grown beyond just the heartthrob and into this full, complicated man. It allows him to have a backstory of the ex-wife and then the relationship with the partner [who is now his current wife]. He can provide that complexity. He still looks great and yet, he's lived some life. He looks like a detective.
SheKnows: Will we see any crossover with the other Law & Order shows?
Rene Balcer: There's already a crossover with Mariska Hargitay. The episode of SVU airing [September 29], she intersects with Skeet Ulrich's character, but as far as the original Law & Order, it's always a possibility. At this point, for the first 13 episodes, we want to establish the identity of LOLA, on its own. Down the line, we will consider bringing anybody back.
SheKnows: Any guest stars lined up?
Christopher Misiano: In the first episode, we have Danielle Panabaker and Shawnee Smith, but we've concentrated less on the imposing guest star and letting our cast, which is enormously impressive…
Rene Balcer: Just to give an example, we have a recurring character of a coroner and she'll be played by Tamlyn Tomita, who was in The Joy Luck Club. The marquee names become regulars on our show. It's the cast (Ulrich, Stoll, Molina, Howard, Hall, Teri Polo, Megan Boone, Peter Coyote, Rachel Ticotin, et al) that is the star. The story is the star.
SheKnows: So no Justin Bieber anytime soon?
Christopher Misiano: SVU has made a specialty of the big guest star, and they do it well. Here, we're not going to get Betty White to be a slasher.
As you can see from the video below, the vibe between Alfred Molina and Regina Hall is loose and fun, but they'll get serious onscreen as Deputy DAs.
SheKnows: Alfred Molina, what's the story on your character?
Alfred Molina: He's the son of immigrants. He's the first generation of his family to go to college. His father was a groundsman at a very fancy country club -- the sort which wouldn't probably allow his father in as a member, even if he had the money. It's a typical immigrant story and that's the part of the story that resonates with me, because it's my story. It rang a few bells. He's proud of where he comes from, but it has left him with a few chips on his shoulder. It's given him a different perspective on what he refers to as "The California promise."
SheKnows: How much do you have in common with your character?
Regina Hall: The character is a lot more grounded than I am. In essence, I'm a lot more spiritual. This character has a weight and gravitas that I don't choose to explore in real life. Her confidence comes from her intelligence and mine probably comes from my comedy or wit.
Alfred Molina: The [law is] much more of a science than an art form. You train very hard, I discovered, to think twice and impose rigid and unchanging logic to every situation, which is partly what is wrong with the law. It's not malleable enough and it's something our characters explore. We make the distinction between law and justice. The law is the rigid application of logic: Justice is a much more emotional response. I found that was the hardest part for me, because I'm completely instinctive. I never learned to think twice. I learned to shoot off my mouth!
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