Monday, January 10, 2011

Donnie interview with Telegraph Journal

Donnie was interviewed by Telegraph Journal about Blue Bloods:

NEW YORK - Well, that show about the crooked family worked out well. How about a family of cops?

CBS would like to think so: that they can flip cable's Shakespearean Sopranos over to the right side of the law with Blue Bloods, a multi-generational New York police drama that is also bicameral: from One Police Plaza to the Staten Island family mansion. From Hell's Kitchen to the dining-room table.

And Blue Bloods is startlingly old-school, from its three-generation legacy of lawmen, to its Irish Catholic New York cop vintage, to its maleness. The Reagan family is headed by Police Commissioner Frank (Tom Selleck), grouched-up by emeritus grandpa Henry (Len Cariou) and fired by scion Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), the hard-boiled rebel detective.

As Wahlberg rolls in for the interview, he looks the part: steely and wary, fresh from shooting a scene on the Brooklyn set. He immediately lays out what Blue Bloods is not, starting with The Sopranos.

"(Tony's) the boss of a family. Danny's not the boss of anything."

Move on to 24, the time-bomb procedural.

"No, I don't see Blue Bloods as part of that genre. There was a race-against-the-clock aspect to the pilot, but it's really, 'Let's get the case resolved,' so we can get to know the family."

First, we get to know Danny, the kind of cop who, "on the one hand, he's saving a girl's life, on the other, he's sticking a guy's head in the toilet."

Yes, that happens in the pilot, as Danny administers porcelain justice to a suspected pedophile. "But there's a lot of cops on television who bend the rules for justice. That wasn't gonna be enough for me." He mentions the 'rogue cop' template of The Shield, because "what's interesting is to play a guy who bends the rules but then goes home and sits with his family who all know he's bending the rules and have different opinions but are willing to talk about them. It's sort of like taking (Michael Chiklis's) Mackey out of The Shield and putting him in a family he has to answer to."

In Blue Bloods, moral/legal dilemmas are hashed out over Sunday pork roast. The pilot is so intent on this model that the child-kidnap crime is solved in the first half.

"A lot of my friends who watched it said, 'That's it? Three suspects and the case is solved?' But it really did get us to the family. It's really the special thing about the show - the unique thing, anyway; not just three generations of cops, but three generations of cops with different opinions."

At this juncture, an Israeli interviewer suggests that American TV is "obsessed with family."

"Yeah, I don't share that opinion," Wahlberg says. "I think American TV used to be (obsessed) with family; there used to be many families on TV and they went away. They seemed to become . . . uncool.

"In fact, I heard a story yesterday about the show Homicide. (Writer/producer) Tom Fontana used to say to the network, 'We want to put in these family (segments),' and the network would say, 'No. Nobody wants to watch a family.' From the period of Homicide and the Law & Orders, the personal lives of cops became completely uninteresting and not a part of anything. The CSIs and Criminal Minds, NCIS - there's no real character aspects to those shows. That doesn't make them bad shows; it just means they're focused on the crime itself."

Blue Bloods, then, could be "the kind of family you couldn't put on television 30 years ago. It's very unpolitically correct, or whatever you call it."

Appealingly gruff, Wahlberg clearly enjoys his role. There is no "I" as he speaks; it's all "Danny." Blue Bloods is red-blooded masculine, and a rare series drama about male family roles. But there is a female presence. Bridget Moynahan plays Erin, a D.A. and Danny's by-the-book sister.

"They love each other to death. When I read the pilot, I felt like I was reading scenes from my sister and me in real life. Sometimes her point of view is very . . . specific. And mine is specific, as well. I literally had a picture of my sister's face in my head as I read those words."

As he returns to the set, I ask Wahlberg about his semi-retirement from a previous gig, as the tough kid in New Kids on the Block.

It turns out that, as we sat, a tour had been announced pairing New Kids and Backstreet Boys.

"A world arena tour. We're gonna start in Canada, actually." (Not quite, but they're in Montreal June 7, and in Toronto June 8 and 9).

Is there an album in the works?

"Probably. Working on that."

Because, for a song 'n' dance Kid turned cop, pop is about legacy, as well.

Blue Bloods airs on CTV and CBS on Fridays.

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