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NYTVF: New Amsterdam premiere

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 7th 2007 3:00PM
New Amsterdam red carpetOne of the fun side benefits of covering the New York Television Festival is that you get to see a few selected fall pilots projected up on a big screen. Oh, and you also get to talk to some of that show's actors and producers, as well. FOX's New Amsterdam was the first of three network pilots to premiere at the festival; shot in New York, it's a procedural whose main character, NYPD homicide detective John Amsterdam, has lived in the city for over 400 years, searching for his one true love. If it sounds familiar, you're right.

More details and pictures after the jump.

It wasn't a stellar red carpet, to be honest. Because of shooting schedules, only a couple of the show's stars could make it. But, those who did make it gave some good answers at the panel and party that occurred after the screening of the pilot.

About that pilot: it was a bit of a different version than what Keith reviewed earlier this summer, but executive producer David Manson told the audience that the pilot they showed last night was still in the rough-cut stage, without some of the music, credits, and special effects that will be in the final version. They have plenty of time though, since the show doesn't premiere until January.

Zuleikha Robinson of New Amsterdam
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays immortal cop John Amsterdam, was shooting and couldn't make the premiere, but his lovely co-star, Zuleikha Robinson, was nice enough to walk the red carpet. She plays Amsterdam's partner, Eva Marquez, who warms up to Amsterdam by the end of the pilot (he's supposedly drives away partners at a good clip), but wonders why has such extensive knowledge about so many topics. She was happy to get this role because, having been in period pieces like Rome and The Merchant of Venice, it was good for her to play someone in the present day. Even though there will be period elements of the show, as we explore what Amsterdam encountered throughout his 400 years, Robinson didn't think that she'd be a part of those scenes. When I mentioned she could play Marquez' great grandmother in a period scene, she said she thought it was a good idea. She was just humoring me, though...

Zuleikha Robinson Of New Amsterdam
Here's another pic of Robinson, because she's so darn cute. Her American accent is flawless, both on the show and in person. But she was born in England, adopting the accent when she came to the States to study acting a few years ago. During the panel segment, she said she has a tendency to adopt the native accent of wherever she's living. Speaking of accents, if you hear Coster-Waldau Danish accent seeping though from time to time during the show, it's no accident. Manson told the premiere's audience that they didn't want to squelch his accent; after all, Amsterdam came to the island of Manhattan as a Dutch soldier, so the bits of Danish in his character's voice were more than appropriate.

Stephen Henderson of New AmsterdamStephen Henderson plays Omar, a former jazz musician and current bar owner who Amsterdam has trusted with his immortality secret. A veteran TV character actor, Henderson also has a long string of Broadway and off-Broadway roles to his credit. Because of that, he told the audience that he was very happy that the show is being shot in New York instead of Los Angeles. "Not that I wouldn't have taken the job," he said, generating one of the biggest laughs from the crowd.

The panel's moderator, Katherine Oliver, commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Film & TV, tried to get get Henderson to spill about why Omar has been entrusted with Amsterdam's secret, but he wasn't saying a word. I think his family was sitting behind me at the screening. How do I know? Oh, just a little hunch: they clapped loudly when Henderson first appeared on screen and laughed at all of his lines.

David Manson of New AmsterdamOK, here's a little bit on the Highlander factor. Executive Producer David Manson (right) claimed during the panel that he had never heard of (Update: from what others recollect, he said he hadn't seen the movie before, not that he hadn't heard of it) the cult-classic movie and TV series, which also involved an immortal man living in the present day, when he went to make the series. When I approached Manson at the after-party and asked him when the first time during the show's production that someone brought up the Highlander, he mentioned that the first he heard of it during this past summer's TCA press tour, when a bunch of sci-fi journalists brought up the similarities during the show's panel discussion. Since he's not a big fantasy or sci-fi fan, he told me, he just didn't have any idea that the movie or series ever existed.

Sure, David. I find it hard to believe no one in the cast or crew brought up the parallels to the Highlander series, but I'll take your word for it. He already seemed pretty tired of answering the question, which is unfortunate, because he's going to have to answer it a lot more between now and January. By the way, he doesn't seem to mind the fact that they got pushed back by FOX; in fact, he hopes they slot New Amsterdam right after American Idol. I guess a producer can dream, can't he?

John WalshFOX somehow managed to get one of its longest-tenured stars to show up for the premiere. No, I'm not talking about Homer Simpson; I'm talking about John Walsh of America's Most Wanted. When you think about it, the guy's taken a pretty amazing journey, from being the father of a child who was abducted and killed to a TV star who is walking down red carpets 20 years later. But it's all served a greater purpose, since AMW has captured 959 fugitives to date. I asked Walsh a few questions while he was on the red carpet; I'll likely post his answers to those questions at a later date. As for New Amsterdam, the word he liked to use to describe the show was "edgy."

Anyway, that's it for the New Amsterdam premiere. Tonight is the premiere of NBC's Chuck, and I'll be there. Stay tuned tomorrow for my recap of the event.

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It doesn't remind me of Highlander as much as it does Forever Knight.

September 08 2007 at 7:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Cant wait for this show to start.. i think its so cool to see a Dane in a leading role!! And on top of that it sounds like a great show...

September 07 2007 at 8:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Joel wrote:

"Sure, David. I find it hard to believe no one in the cast or crew brought up the parallels to the Highlander series, but I'll take your word for it. He already seemed pretty tired of answering the question, which is unfortunate, because he's going to have to answer it a lot more between now and January."

No, he really doesn't. Viewers don't care. Shows and movies are often similar. Like so much else in life, all viewers care about "how have you entertained me lately?" and if New Amsterdam is well-received, audiences won't care that it has parallels to the Highlander movies and TV series. Moreover, if the creator says he's not a sci-fi fan and didn't know about the Highlander product, then why not give him the benefit of the doubt? If I'm a writer hired by Manson to work on this show, the last thing I'm going to do is point out, "hey, guy who is paying me, are you sure you want to copy a main theme of some show from 10 years ago?" because it won't effect any real change and now I'll just put myself in danger of losing my job.

September 07 2007 at 5:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

its the outfit cisco... it is not flattering on her at all.

September 07 2007 at 3:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dude, what's the deal with Zuleikha? She is awesome and a total cutie, but she looks like America Ferrara-size in these pics. She was awesome in 'The Lone Gunmen' and great in 'The Namesake' but in these pics she looks a bit big.

September 07 2007 at 3:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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