(*Disclosure-I was invited to an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles, courtesy of Disney, to attend the #ABCTVEvent in exchange for my coverage. No other compensation was provided. All views shared are completely my own.)
ABC is bringing you a new show from the producer of “Scandal”. “For The People” is about the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (a.k.a. “The Mother Court”), The new Shondaland series follows six talented, young lawyers working on opposite sides of the law, and handling the most high-profile and high-stakes federal cases in the country.
I had the pleasure of interviewing a couple of the cast members from “For The People”. Jasmin Savoy Brown (“Allison Adams”), Susannah Flood (“Kate Littlejohn”), Wesam Keesh (“Jay Simmons”) and Regé-Jean Page “Leonard Knox”). We were also able to interview Paul William Davies (Creator & Executive Producer) and Tom Verica (Executive Producer) of the show.
I know what you guys are thinking…another “Law & Order” or “Criminal Minds”. This show is nothing like that. One of the reasons I enjoyed seeing the first episode of “For The People” is because we get a chance to see a different side of our Justice system that we have never seen before. We get to see both perspectives of what the prosecution and public defender have to go through in court, and all of the emotions that they deal with in their cases.
An important aspect of the show is that a lot of the cases you will see are based on actual events. We asked Paul Williams Davies how the idea for this type of show came about and how it would differ from the law shows already out there. Paul said “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- 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. I’ve been to the Mother Court. I was a lawyer. I still am a lawyer, I still pay my bar dues but I’m hoping to never have to use them again. But I was a practicing lawyer for years. I worked for a large law firm. I didn’t do the kind of noble work that these people do, but I do have a background in the law and some of my friends that I went to law school with are actually consultants on the show. And so I’ve been able to draw off both from my own experience and then people that I’ve worked with and went to law school with.”
When we sat down with the cast, you could tell that all of them had done research on how the court system works, and most had either shadowed or had an actual lawyer working with them. Regé-Jean Page spoke about his experience at one of the courthouses he sat in on for a trial. “I got into contact with a couple of folks in this city and kind of went down to court in Compton, which is in experience. And 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 and 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. Just kind of seeing people work in that kind of rhythm is both inspiring and a responsibility because you then have to represent that in its best light.”
When you watch the show you will see that the lawyers are very young, which is great because you get to the progression from graduation from law school to getting sworn in as a lawyer. Susannah Flood who plays “Kate Littlejohn” made a good point. She said “I think that the joy in this season is being able to explore the faults or the ways in which these young people don’t yet know how to do what it is they’re responsible for doing. So it’s like any of us at any moment where we’ve entered a professional threshold. Anyone in this room that has entered a professional threshold in their life that is much larger than what they’ve operated in up to that moment. I think the bravado of all of these characters in the first thirty minutes of the show is really true and appropriate to the actual lawyers in the Southern District. They’re all very, like, they’re very New York in that way. They’re like Wolf of Wall Street in that way. They’re fronting with this kind of ambition that derives from a passion for principle. They’re all civil servants. They’re not getting paid that much money, They’re only in their jobs because of the principle of being in the job.”
It’s very exciting to have another show produced by Shondaland and curious to see what you guys think about the show!
For The People airs March 13, 2018, at 10/9C on ABC. Watch and send me your comments.
JASMIN SAVOY BROWN (“Allison Adams” on “For The People”)
WESAM KEESH (“Jay Simmons” on “For The People”)
REGÉ-JEAN PAGE (“Leonard Knox” on “For The People”)
PAUL WILLIAM DAVIES (Creator & Executive Producer, “For The People”)
TOM VERICA (Executive Producer, “For The People”)