There is a new legal drama show called “For The People” premiering tonight at 10|9c on ABC. It’s a must-see show for those that like to watch the legal side of things except this show you will be able to see the perspective side of both public defenders and prosecutors rather than just one side.
I had the chance to interview the with actors Jasmin Savoy Brown (“Allison Adams”), Susannah Flood (“Kate Littlejohn”), Regé-Jean Page (Leonard Knox) & Wesam Keesh (“Jay Simmons”) and Creator & Executive Producer Paul William Davies and Executive Producer Tom Verica while I was in LA a few weeks ago. We talked about the show, how they prepared for the role and if they ever wanted to change the verdict of the case.
Vision for the Show
Executive producer and creator, Paul William Davies, who is still a lawyer himself was able to draw off both from his own experience and then people that he has worked with and went to law school with. He went on to say the following.
Paul William Davies – “I brought this idea to Shonda and I had been kind of playing around with two ideas for a while.
One of them was a show set in the Southern District of New York the Mother Court, which in legal circles is kind of the- as the judge says at the opening of the show, it’s the highest kind of most- the highest profile most prestigious trial court in the United States. And I thought a show set in that court with the kinds of cases that come out of that court and the lawyers that work in that court could be really interesting. I also wanted to do something that showed the perspective of both sides. And not like in a formulaic way but just kind of in a way that you got a richer sense of how the law works and how justice is made in America.
And so I thought having that dual perspective could be an interesting new way to approach a legal show. And so I brought those ideas to Shonda and we talked them through and ended up combining those two ideas into what has become this show. So that’s how it got started.”
How they Prepared for the Role
While there was some legal background for some of the crew, the talent had to prepare for a role they were not entirely familiar with.
Wesam Keesh – ” I actually did shadow a public defender at the L.A. courthouse and that was an amazing experience, just what the public defenders have to deal with within a few hours, from like a bicycle theft case to a sexual assault case to somebody showing up for their prison sentence, to a juvenile trying to not get jail time. So they have to deal with a lot and yeah it was very eye-opening, there’s a lot of dark humor behind the scenes which, you know, plays into it.”
Jasmin Savoy Brown – “I also have a public defender that I Skype with who’s in New York and that’s invaluable. Even just while we’re Skyping she got like five calls in half an hour and just understanding the nature of what that actually looks like and her critiquing the show, just from the trailer.”
Rege-Jean Page – “I got into contact with a couple of folks in this city and I went to court in Compton, which is an experience. I didn’t know before I started working this that everyone has the right to go and just watch justice be done like you can turn up and watch a case with very-very few exceptions which is incredible because it is so important for justice not just to be done but to be seen to be done.
And just kind of being in that environment, in a courthouse environment and feeling people work at an incredibly high level, with people’s lives in their hands every single day is an extraordinary thing and something you kind of need to feel palpable before you can kind of take it on. Just the fact they walk into this courtroom every day, real people’s lives incredibly intricate complicated stories. And you have to boil that down and deliver it to jury with all the technicalities involved and essentially either save lives or not and with ten other cases on your back and five calls coming in every ten minutes.”
Verdict of the Cases
As many cases that they did for the show made us wonder if there was ever a moment where they tried to change the storyline telling the writers and producers to change the verdict of the cases.
Jasmin Savoy Brown – “I’m saving that for like the one time I really need it, it hasn’t happened for me yet.”
Rege-Jean Page – “I think those feelings certainly exist there are times when I’m like oh come on, this can’t, please just let this happen. But also I think we just have such immense respect for the depth and the structure that Paul and his team bring to this, to the point where we wouldn’t knock on the writers door- we’d have that conversation with ourselves have a little cry in the corner, get over it, and move forward, but you know that you’re certainly on the right course so we’re generally pretty good with that, I think.”
Six talented young lawyers work on opposite sides of the law handling the most high-profile and high-stakes federal cases in the country. In the new Shondaland series show, these young lawyers will be put to the test both personally and professionally as their lives intersect in and out of America’s most prestigious trial court, a.k.a. “The Mother Court.”
For The People premieres Tonight at 10|9c on ABC.