Because it just wouldn’t be a pilot season without Jimmy Smits attaching himself to something that sounds intriguing but will probably just end up crappy (see also: Cane, Outlaw), NBC has cast Jimmy Smits in its new “no, we’re really not trying to be The Wire set in Los Angeles, but that’s totally what we’re trying to do, just don’t tell anyone” project, according to Nellie Andreeva at TVLine. Formerly titled S.I.L.A., the project is now known as the Untitled Stephen Gaghan Project, both because no one knows what S.I.L.A. means and creator Stephen Gaghan, Oscar-winning screenwriter of Traffic and Syriana, is very much a household name. Smits will play the mayor of Los Angeles, who precariously balances his professional and personal lives, which is something you’ve never seen before, ever.
The show focuses on the worlds of crime, police officers, and politics in Los Angeles, and it features a sprawling, diverse ensemble cast, which also includes Noah Emmerich and Madchen Amick. Gaghan’s experience with giant narratives filled with dozens of characters suggests he could take quite nicely to serious drama on TV, but the description of the show makes us wonder how long before the series adds a bunch of characters at the Los Angeles Times, a couple of middle-school students, and a handful of dockworkers down at the Port of Long Beach, just to really distinguish itself from all those other crime dramas on the air.
Still, Smits is a big ol’ TV star, even when he’s in absolute dreck, and Gaghan is a promising writer to bring to the medium, so we’ll watch an episode or two, if this gets on the air. Then again, that’s what we’re paid to do.