The two core actors of the gritty hit police drama about patrolling street cops in the City of Angels discuss the new season of 'Southland,' their characters, how they trained with real LAPD officers and why the underdog series has endured.
Southland – much like the LAPD cops the raw and engrossing series depicts – is a survivor. First hitting network airwaves in 2009, after a short thirteen-episode season, it was cancelled by NBC (in the States) right before its second season was about to commence. Beating all the odds, the compelling fictional police drama – produced by John Wells (The West Wing, ER, Shameless) – was wisely resurrected by the TNT cable network (Seasons Two, Three and Four are now available on DVD). Just l;ast week, Southland celebrated its Fifth Season premiere. The fifth season opener, "Hats and Bats" was a ratings hit with viewers and won unanimous critical praise. It appears that the gutsy, in your face Southland is back and looks here to stay.
Ben McKenzie and Shawn Hatosy in a scene from the new season of 'Southland'
The emotionally-gripping Southland has redefined the police drama with its uncompromising, authentic look at the lives and work of Los Angeles detectives and beat cops. Shot on location in the streets and neighborhoods of Los Angeles, Southland captures a realistic, natural environment where similar situations can and often do occur in real life.
In the fifth season of Southland – which features a sterling ensemble cast – actor Michael Cudlitz (Life, Saving Grace and the upcoming film Pawn Shop Chronicles) portrays Officer John Cooper, a gay, recovering addict who, in this new season, starts to wonder what he has really accomplished after more than twenty years on the force. Shawn Hatosy (Public Enemies, Dexter, Longmire) plays Officer Sammy Bryant, a detective-turned-beat-cop facing a whole new set of problems from his estranged wife. Regina King (Ray, The Boondocks, 24) portrays Detective Lydia Adams, who meets probably the biggest challenge of her life – becoming a mother. Ben McKenzie (The O.C., Junebug, Sin Bin) is Officer Ben Sherman, whose growing maturity as a cop brings a darker attitude and increased tension between him and his partner, Sammy (Hatosy).
Michael Cudlitiz portays Officer John Cooper, a gay, recovering addict cop with more than twenty years on the force on 'Southland'
Now a series regular, four-season veteran C. Thomas Howell (E.T., Revolution, Criminal Minds) plays Officer "Dewey" Dudek, a recovering alcoholic who revels in his unpredictable behavior and off-color remarks. Dorian Missick reprises his recurring role from last season as Detective Ruben Robinson, who provides some experienced parental insight for his partner (King).
In Season Four of Southland, McKenzie and Hatosy's characters – Officers Ben Sherman and Sammy Bryant – were teamed up as police partners patrolling the often perilous streets of Los Angeles. The new season of Southland finds them once again riding in the same cop cruiser.
Ben Mckenzie is Officer Ben Sherman on 'Southland'
Thirty-four-year-old, Texas-born Ben McKenzie – who has remained a core series member since Season One – insisted that the new season of Southland is the strongest in its fifteen-year history. "It feels like a very confident show," he said. "It feels like a show that's comfortable in its own skin and knows what it's trying to do, and what it's not trying to do."
McKenzie maintained Southland continues to stand out and differentiate itself from the other police shows on television by staying genuine. "I think we've down well because it's more honest, it's more real," Ben offered. "We are actually where we say we are whenever we are shooting something. If we say we're going to be in Nickerson Gardens, which is a housing projects in Watts, then we actually go there. Actually, that's where we were last season. That's when I chased this guy to the backyard. Shawn (Hatosy) and I chased the guy down the street, because the guy's beating on the girl. I chased him into the backyard with these gangsters. That's just outside of Nickerson Gardens in Watts. You know, we're actually where we say we are. We're taking stories that are from cops. What cops actually tell the writers – in terms of things that have actually happened to them – and we're able to improvise and change things as actors to fit the reality of situations. That's why we're never perfect. We're always striving to be as good as we can be. I think it's a far more honest show than it is to do a kind of a cop show where you're inside on a set in Hollywood pretending like, 'What's happening?'"
Officer Ben Sherman (McKenzie) in an action-packed sequnce from 'Southland'
Shawn Hatosy, McKenzie's cast mate and fictional cop car partner (Sammy Bryant) explained that the intense preparation the actors received before and during the run of Southland has been essential in keeping the series original and authentic. "As actors we're trained to be cops, I mean, we've spent so much time researching and learning the protocol and what it means to work on the streets – we actually know how to do it," the thirty-seven-year-old, actor confessed. "I think the different partnerships bring a new feel to Southland – about the good and bad that goes with two cops on patrol. It feels right and it feels just this partnership, sitting in the car together and being a couple of guys, I think it's what Southland was always meant to be. I mean, we spend so much time together that you get to know every last thing about the guy that you're riding with. Almost, too much."
Shawn Hatosy is Officer Sammy Bryant on 'Southland'
McKenzie seconded Hatosy's emotion. "I definitely believe that from the ride-a-longs and interactions I've had with the cops, it's more like what life is like in the natural patrol car," Ben revealed. "We're not always perfect, but we do the best we can, and I think the audience responds to that."
Hatosy and McKenzie in a scene from 'Southland'
Since partnering up in Season Four of Southland, the pair confessed that while the series' storylines can be intense and action-packed, McKenzie and Hatosy have had a incredible time filming together. "It's a ball working with Shawn, I'm having a blast," Ben revealed. Hatosy whole-heartedly agreed. "It doesn't really feel like work, right?" Shawn rhetorically asked his co-star. "I mean, you just wake up and you pinch yourself. It's a lot like, 'What, am I dreaming? Heck, no, this is the perfect job."
Officers Sherman (McKenzie) and Bryant (Hatosy) in a scene from 'Southland'
When the subject switched to the story-arc that their character's will take in the latest season of Southland, each actor was quick and concise in offering their take on what fans of the hit series can expect. "I think the producers have kind of told me that their idea for the season for Ben is that it's now that he's on the force – full fledge – and he's become a bit of a hero, he has begun to think, 'All right, I'm a cop, what kind of cop what do I want to be?'" McKenzie said of his on-screen alter-ego Officer Sherman. "That includes all kinds of things. It includes, how you conduct yourself, your personality, the way that you conduct yourself, both professionally or unprofessionally. Throughout the season, he'll be sort of tested. And, of course, he'll make more mistakes."
Ben McKenzie and Shawn Hatosy on 'Southland'
Since their characters are so closely bound by their determination to be good and honest LAPD street cops – combined with their minimal contact with the other actors in the cast of Southland – Officers Sherman and Bryant's interaction has been essential in fueling each other's actions and emotions. For Hatosy, it's a plus. "For my character of Sammy, there's no person better than Sherman to bounce things off of, because Ben's character is sort of straddling the fence of what kind of cop he's going to be, what sort of decisions he's going to make," Shawn explained. "But Sammy has been shaped so much by, first of all, by being a detective in the world of the gangs. However, he's also been affected by losing his former partner. Sammy has a an opinion about these people that he's arresting and it's very obvious and sort of in your face, and Ben is kind of - you know, kind of having to figure out what sort of cop he is going to be."
"Sherman can certainly see the appeal of the character of Ferguson's philosophy, because it just simplifies everything – it's, 'Us versus them,'" McKenzie quickly interjected, further explaining his character's feelings. "It's the thought that the criminals that they encounter – excuse my French – they're pieces of shit, so why you should worry about them? Or you should just let them kill each other. Of course, from Sherman's way of thinking, 'That's too easy.'
"Sherman realizes that, 'Sure the job is hard, and the job's tough, and a lot of the people don't have a lot of moral redeeming qualities, but, at the same time, you can't just allow them all to kill each other,'" Ben continued. "Sherman knows that's not their job. His feels like, 'We're supposed to be better than that.' I mean, there's a part of Ben that can't let that go. I think that's important to who he is as a person is even though he is certainly not as naïve as he was when he came to it. But, there's no way he's going to become so jaded that he's just going to simply give up all hope that things can be better and that, quite frankly, that his job has meaning."
The freedom to improvise has not only served the actors on the series well, but Southland has benefited from listening to suggestions from it's dynamic cast. "One thing which is completely unique, is that on other shows, they write things and you're married to the script even when they write something that might feel false, you shoot it on another show, and that's how it plays and that's how it edit it," Hatosy explained. "But, on Southland, we have freedom to make it real – especially for the actors. If it's not working, if it doesn't pan out the way it's written – a simple action sequence in a certain area – we find the truth of the scene and we always capture it."
Chad Michael Murray, Ben McKenzie and Shawn Hatosy in a scene from the new season of 'Southland'
Hatosy also intimated the devoted core cast and the crew that had returned for each season has only made the new season of Southland a stronger series. "In a lot of ways, this season is just a continuation of what we've been doing, especially in terms of the style of the shooting," Shawn offered. "But, it's probably even faster than it has been before, because everybody's worked together. A lot of the crew is the same from year-to-year. We have a really tight group and they reserve the time in their schedules to come back to work with us. So, the camera and lighting departments are largely the same and the actors are basically the same, obviously, and the writing and the directors are largely the same. For the actors and for audiences, it just feels smoother."
When posed the question on why Southland has been able to bear cancellation, a restart and a subsequent successful run, Hatosy credited the series' penchant for going above and beyond the call of duty. "It's like no other show on the air," Shawn declared. "Some people enjoy the procedural – where you solve a case every week – and if that's your kind of cop show, this is different. We do solve cases, but this is an action-packed show, and it's about relationships and it's about finding the truth. That is what makes Southland unique and special."
Southland airs on Wednesdays at 10:00pm EST/PST and 9:00pm CST exclusively on the TNT network in the United States. (Check local listings for stations, ON DEMAND or other television outlets in your country or territory).
Southland:The Complete Second, Third & Fourth Seasons
Rookies learn the ropes. Veterans burn out. Detectives take their work personally. Partners take their addictions too far. Relationships fall apart. Blood spatter patterns provide clues. With fast-moving action filmed on gangland streets and in ritzy cul-de-sacs, Southland tells personal stories of men and women on both sides of the badge as they struggle to make a difference, make a million bucks, or simply survive. The six-disc Southland box set contains all twenty-six hard-hitting spades from three previous seasons. DVD Bonus Features: "Southland: Redefining the Cop Drama" – producers and cast members reveal the story behind creating a new series about the LAPD; "Backing the Badge: Selected Scene Commentary" – stories behind some of the second season’s more powerful sequences; "A Crime Tour: Southland’s Crime Map" – revisiting shooting locations from Season Two and Unaired Scenes (from the three seasons featured in the set).
ALSO AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND/OR DVD:
"Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome to Cabaret." Inside the Kit Kat Klub of 1931 Berlin, starry-eyed singer Sally Bowles (Liza Minelli) and an impish emcee (Joel Grey) sound the call to decadent fun, while outside a certain political party grows into a brutal force. Boasting a score by the legendary songwriting partnership of John Kander and Fred Ebb, Cabaret won eight Oscars, including awards for Minelli, Grey and director Bob Fosse, who shaped a triumph of style and substance. “Come to this cabaret, old chum. You'll never want to leave.” The classic Bob Fosse musical also features a stellar cast that includes Michael York, Marisa Berenson and Helmut Griem. Blu-ray Digibook Bonus Features: Commentary By Stephen Tropiano; New: "Cabaret: The Musical That Changed Musicals" and the Vintage: "Cabaret: A Legend In The Making" & "The Recreation Of An Era"
Here Comes The Boom
Former collegiate wrestler Scott Voss (Kevin James) is a 42-year-old, apathetic high school teacher. When budget cutbacks threaten to cancel some of the school's programs and lay off its music teacher (Henry Winkler), Scott creates a scheme to raise money by moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter. Everyone thinks Scott is crazy – most of all the school nurse, Bella (Salma Hayek). In his quest, Scott gains something he never expected as he inspires his students and becomes a sensation that rallies the entire school. The Frank Coraci-directed Here Comes The Boom also stars Bas Rutten, Greg Germann, Gary Valentine, Joe Rogan and Reggie Lee. Blu-ray Bonus Features: Deleted Scenes; Gag Reel; Cast Featurette; "Back To School: Henry Winkler Shows Us His Classroom"; "Learning How To Fight: Kevin James Gets Schooled"; "Gino Vs. Ritchie: A Challenge Caught On Camera"; "Three Amigos: Behind The Scenes Fun With Bas Rutten, Henry Winkler and Mark DellaGrotte" and "The Pros: Meet The Film's Real MMA Fighters."
The latest installment in the Alex Cross series features Tyler Perry (Tyler Perry's Good Deeds), Matthew Fox (Lost), Edward Burns (Man On A Ledge), Rachel Nichols (Conan the Barbarian) and Jean Reno (The Da Vinci Code). Based on the novel Cross by James Patterson and popularized by Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, Tyler Perry takes over as Dr. Alex Cross, a homicide detective/psychologist with the Detroit Police Department. Cross meets his match in a dangerous serial killer (Fox). The two face off in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, but when the mission gets personal, Cross is pushed to the edge of his moral and psychological limits. With a screenplay by Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson, Alex Cross was directed by Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious). Blu-ray Bonus Features: Audio commentary with Rob Cohen; "The Psychologist and the Butcher: Adapting and Filming Alex Cross" and Deleted Scenes.
A Nice Quartet
Not all is as it sounds. Christopher Walken and Philip Seymour Hoffman strike all the right chords with Catherine Keener and Mark Ivanir in this powerful story that blends raw emotion with fiery passion to form an unforgettable cinematic masterpiece. After twenty-five years together, the members of a world-renowned string quartet learn that their beloved cellist (Walken) may soon be forced to retire. But the news stirs up equally painful challenges when competing egos, harbored resentment, and irrepressible lust threaten to derail the group as they struggle to maintain harmony in their music – and their lives. The Yaron Zilberman-directed A Nice Quartet also stars Wallace Shawn; Imogen Poots; Liraz Charchi and Mark Ivanir.
Hailed by critics and audiences alike, Flight is directed by renowned filmmaker Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Cast Away) and stars the incomparable Denzel Washington in a performance that earned him a Best Actor Oscar nod, plus Golden Globe, SAG and Critics’ Choice award nominations. Written by John Gatins, the film tells the story of Whip Whitaker, a commercial airline pilot who miraculously lands a plummeting airplane during a breathtaking sequence. But despite his heroics, Whip comes under investigation and begins what may be an even more harrowing personal descent. Flight also boasts an exceptional supporting cast including John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, Bruce Greenwood, Melissa Leo and Brian Geraghty. Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet): "Origins of Flight" - takes audiences behind-the-scenes to learn about the film’s journey to the screen; "The Making of Flight"; "Anatomy of a Plane Crash" - the filmmakers explain how they created the terrifying plane crash and Q&A Highlights.
Celeste and Jesse Forever
Rashida Jones (The Social Network, Parks & Recreation) co-wrote the screenplay and stars with Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live) in the delightfully witty romantic comedy Celeste and Jesse Forever. The film follows Celeste (Jones) and Jesse (Samberg) as a young married couple who find themselves growing apart. Celeste and Jesse met in high school, married young and are growing apart. Now thirty, Celeste is the driven owner of her own media consulting firm, Jesse is once again unemployed and in no particular rush to do anything with his life. Celeste is convinced that divorcing Jesse is the right thing to do -- she is on her way up, he is on his way nowhere, and if they do it now instead of later, they can remain supportive friends. Jesse passively accepts this transition into friendship, even though he is still in love with her. As the reality of their separation sets in, Celeste slowly and painfully realizes she has been cavalier about their relationship, and her decision, which once seemed mature and progressive, now seems impulsive and selfish. The two come to learn that in order to truly love someone, you may have to let them go. The film also stars Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) and Emma Roberts (Valentine's Day). Blu-ray Bonus Features: Commentary with Rashida Jones & Andy Samberg; Commentary with Rashida Jones, Will McCormack and Lee Toland Krieger; Deleted Scenes; "The Making of Celeste & Jesse Forever"; "On the Red Carpet: Premiere" and Q&A
Caught On Tape
This gritty urban musical, starring hip-hop performer Sticky Fingaz (A Day in the Life). A young boy, a video camera, and a bank robbery gone wrong, set the stage for this hip-hop musical drama. With nothing but footage from a video recorder, two detectives try to piece together the crime by interrogating the one surviving crew member, Mark (Sticky Fingaz). As the inquiries build, pieces start to come together and the story unfolds, inadvertently revealing a major conspiracy to the heist. Told entirely through rap music, and featuring over 30 original songs, Caught On Tape also stars Cedric the Entertainer (Madagascar franchise), Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill: Volume 1), Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries), David Marciano (Homeland), Kel Mitchell (Kenan and Kel) and Erik Palladino (ER). DVD Bonus Feature: Stills Gallery
Filled with romance, humor and hope, the all-new original movie, The Bouquet, stars Kristy Swanson (What If, Little Women, Big Cars), Danny Glover (Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight), Michael Shanks (Christmas Lodge) and Alberta Mayne (The Client List) - a heartwarming story about two estranged sisters who are brought back together by a sudden tragedy. When a sad event brings two siblings home, they are forced to put their busy lives on hold and reluctantly come to terms with the state of their relationship. Once home, they are given shocking news about the state of the family’s floral business, throwing their mother into a tailspin. Understanding that the shop is in trouble, the sisters agree to put their hostility aside and join together to save their legacy and mend their mother’s broken heart. In doing so, they are able to strengthen their sisterly bond, and also find space in their hearts to receive the love that was blooming in front of them along the way. DVD Bonus Feature: 5 free music downloads of love songs.
A Star Is BornA Star Is Born combines the fire of Barbra Streisand and the magnetism of Kris Kristofferson in one of the screen's classic love stories. Set in the reckless world of big-time rock 'n' roll, this passionate and electrifying tale of talented young singer Esther Hoffman (Streisand) and superstar rocker John Norman Howard (Kristofferson) won five Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture, Actress and Actor (Comedy or Musical). Paul Williams, Kenny Loggins, Leon Russell and others worked with Streisand on one of the most popular movie soundtracks ever. The smash hit "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)" was written by Barbra Streisand (music) and Paul Williams (lyrics). It won them an Academy Award in the Music - Original Song category, a Golden Globe for Best Original Song - Motion Picture and a Grammy for Song Of The Year. Blu-ray Digibook Bonus Features: Commentary By Barbra Streisand; "Wardrobe Tests" with Commentary by Barbra Streisand; Deleted Scenes/Alternate Takes with Optional Commentary by Barbra Streisand and a Trailer Gallery.
House Of Cards Trilogy
The thrilling, Emmy-winning original BBC adaptation of Michael Dobbs’ bestselling novels by acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies (Bleak House, Pride and Prejudice) has been fully remastered for its debut on Blu-ray. House of Cards is a delicious tale of greed, corruption and burning ambition. At its heart is Francis Urquhart (Ian Richardson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), a black-hearted villain with a smiling face, who shares with the viewers his estranged humor and innermost thoughts to destroy each of his political rivals. One by one his opponents tumble, until at last there is just one wild card left in the pack. Considered the godfather of modern political thrillers, this is a true classic that must not be missed. Blu-ray Bonus Features: Audio Commentary with Ian Richardson and Andrew Davies; Interview with Andrew Davis and "A Tour of Parliament."
Agatha Christie’s Poirot & Marple Fan Favorites Collection
Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple have delighted PBS viewers for years with their quick wits and uncanny knack for solving thorny cases. This collection brings together the detectives’ eleven most popular mysteries, as voted by Agatha Christie’s fans. Broadcast on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery!, the series star David Suchet as Poirot, and Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple. Guest stars include Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Eileen Atkins (Doc Martin), Barbara Hershey (Black Swan), and Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius).
Above Suspicion,Set 2
Starring Kelly Reilly (Flight) and Ciarán Hinds (Game Of Thrones) and from the creator of Prime Suspect, the riveting detective series returns. This hit British police drama is a younger and sassier successor to Prime Suspect. Rising star Kelly Reilly stars as a detective trying to prove herself while Ciarán Hinds (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Harry Potter) co-stars as her hard-boiled, flawed, and charismatic boss. Set 2 includes the three-part series arc "Deadly Intent" (Series 3, 2011) with guest star Julian Sands (A Room with a View).
The Walt Disney Studios celebrates the 60th Anniversary release of Walt Disney’s classic, Peter Pan, as it soars to all-new heights – with a new digital restoration and high definition picture and sound. The classic tale that taught us all "to believe" and first introduced us to the Darling children Wendy, John and Michael – as they flew with Peter Pan and Tinker Bell past the second star to the right and straight on ‘till morning to the enchanted world of Never Land. Rediscover the magical adventure and relive childhood memories of this great bedtime story. Peter Pan is a timeless classic from Disney’s Golden Age of animation. The film is one of three to boast all nine of Walt’s famous "Nine Old Men" as Directing Animators, and is a revered audience favorite. Peter PanDiamond Edition Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy & Storybook App) Bonus Features: The groundbreaking feature "Disney Intermission"; "Growing up with Nine O Men short film; never-before-seen Deleted Scenes and a never-before-heard Deleted Song.
Celebrate With Clifford
Age may just be a number, but this February everyone's favorite BIG red pal is celebrating a BIG birthday! After 50 years of good times, fun adventures and memories, delight in big fun and big friendships in seven party-packed Clifford tales. Whether it's working as a team to put on the Fall Carnival, finding the perfect gift for a birthday party or building a float for the Birdwell Parade, Clifford and his pals – Emily, Elizabeth, Charley, Jetta and T-Bone – discover that always following your heart and being yourself is the best way to be a big friend. Let's get this party started! Celebrate With Clifford is the first DVD release in two years for this beloved series, one of the longest-running children's programs on TV. Celebrate With Clifford includes seven themed episodes. DVD Bonus Features: "Happy Birthday Clifford" Bonus Disc and 5 bonus Speckle stories.
Monster High: Friday Night Frights / Why Do Ghouls Fall In Love? (Double Feature)
The Monster High ghouls are back in a freaky, fabulous double feature that's simply to-die-for!. When the boys can't compete in the Skulltimate Roller Maze Championships, Frankie Stein convinces her friends that some "ghoul power" is needed to save the day in the creeptastic, all-new movie, Friday Night Frights. Then, as the epic Sweet 1600th of Draculara approaches, she's got two crush-worthy guys out to steal her heart (literally) before the big event in the new-to-DVD movie Why Do Ghouls Fall in Love? Get double the dose of ghoul school with these two, fangtastically fabulous adventures - tricked-out with skullastic style and spooktacular laughs!
Warner Bros/Sesame Street
Elmo's World: All Day With Elmo
It's always a sunny day when you spend it with everyone's favorite furry red monster! Wake up with Elmo, then learn all about school and exercise. When it's time for bed, Elmo takes a bath and brushes his teeth. Nighty-night Elmo, let's spend all day together again tomorrow! This extra-long Elmo's World compilation focuses on daily routines, helping children learn them along with their good friend Elmo.