René Balcer talks about Law & Order: Los Angeles

Law and Order: Los Angeles gets a touch of Canada  – VancouverSun.com

Rene Balcer, the Montreal native and Concordia grad who had been with Law & Order virtually from its inception, first heard that the gavel had dropped for good on the venerable courtroom drama while he was vacationing in China during his hiatus in May. Balcer had been tracked down by The New York Times for comment. Balcer had no comment, he recalled Friday, because it was the first he had heard of it. He literally had no comment to make. The writer-producer who once penned a script for Law & Order: Criminal Intent loosely based on the New York Times/Jayson Blair affair could be forgiven he was been taken for a fool.

Balcer, who attended both McGill and Concordia during his college years and who started out as a night-side desk editor at the now-defunct Montreal Star before trying his hand at filmmaking and writing for television, learned later that the news was true.

In one of those twists of fate that are closer to truth than fiction, NBC wanted a spin-off from Law & Order, even as the network was cancelling the original after a record-tying 20 seasons. Dick Wolf, Law & Order’s adjudicator-in-chief and a man given to getting his own way — most of the time — immediately tapped Balcer to run the new series, nicknamed LOLA but officially dubbed Law & Order: Los Angeles. […]

Balcer, a Los Angeles resident when he wasn’t flying to New York to supervise scripts on Law & Order and its spin-off show L&O: Criminal Intent, which Balcer personally developed from scratch, argued the case for Los Angeles as a worthy setting for Law & Order.

“Well, I would challenge your original assumption that L.A. isn’t as interesting as New York,” Balcer said. “As far as the divide between rich and poor goes, I don’t think you get any more dramatic a divide than East L.A. and West L.A.

“The essential difference between New York and L.A. is New York is a big stew of people. It really is the melting pot. It’s also been the site of innumerable TV shows, like The Naked City, so I could argue it has been mined as much as L.A. has.

“L.A. is more of a mosaic of communities. And part of the fun of these new shows is that each episode will focus on a separate community, an individual piece of that mosaic. New York has Central Park but we have the beach, which is the great equalizer. It’s where everybody goes. We have a episode about surfers, and how that played a part in the original mythos of Los Angeles.

“I think there’s all kinds of territory that hasn’t been mined by a lot of shows that have been made in L.A. We have an episode aboard an oil rig, for example. We can do a lot of things on Law & Order: Los Angeles that have not been done by other shows.”

As a Montreal native, though, won’t he miss the snow, a Postmedia News reporter asked him moments later.

“No,” Balcer said, laughing. “That’s why I moved out here in the first place.”

Balcer added that, the different setting aside, he wants to bring the same unblinking eye to Law & Order: Los Angeles’ tales of crime and (possible) punishment that he brought to the original Law & Order. The new series isn’t going to lose the plot and go all soft and fuzzy-headed now that it’s set in the Southern California sunshine.

“If you liked the mother ship,” Balcer said, referring to the original, “I think you’re going to like this.”

He’s not short of ideas.

Balcer hopes to mine the so-called Jihad Jane case for story material, and raise the issue of whether terrorism trials should be moved outside the jurisdiction where the original incident took place. Balcer also promises to tackle the Shirley Sherrod controversy, and how blanket terms like “racism” and “reverse racism” can be tossed around unthinkingly and with possible malice aforethought in an increasingly media-savvy society. Law & Order: Los Angeles will mirror the ordinal series’ walk between a criminal investigation and the subsequent court trial; Balcer said everyone likes a good detective mystery, but he personally likes to look at the themes and moral issues that lie underneath.

“Any issue that’s out there plays here,” he said.[…]

Balcer noted that, while he often flew to New York for L&O and Criminal Intent, he has lived in Los Angeles for almost 30 years now.

“I have a backlog of stories that are L.A.-specific.” […]

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René Balcer is promising Law & Order: Los Angeles won’t just be another funny California guest star/red carpet based drama! IT’S THE SAME LAW & ORDER JUST IN LOS ANGELES! – Some fans who are trying to be ‘rebels’ need to grow up, I admit I’ll miss Law & Order but I’ll GIVE LOLA a fighting chance it deserves!

YOU SHOULD TOO!

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4 Comments

  1. gahks
    Posted August 1, 2010 at 9:50 am | Permalink | Reply

    All hail Rene!

    HE is the man!

    (bows)

    We are not worthy!

    • mortonsloci
      Posted August 1, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

      We are not!!! Go RENE!

  2. gahks
    Posted August 1, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink | Reply

    “Balcer hopes to mine the so-called Jihad Jane case for story material, and raise the issue of whether terrorism trials should be moved outside the jurisdiction where the original incident took place. Balcer also promises to tackle the Shirley Sherrod controversy, and how blanket terms like “racism” and “reverse racism” can be tossed around unthinkingly and with possible malice aforethought in an increasingly media-savvy society.”

    Sounds like a good plan, Mr. Balcer! Topical, relevant drama should be the ‘Order’ of the day, not all the superficial gloss LA-set shows currently possess!

  3. mortonsloci
    Posted August 1, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thank you!

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Crime Investigation, Joshua Morton. Joshua Morton said: http://wp.me/pRURs-59 – Executive Producer René Balcer talks about Law & Order: Los Angeles and it's formula. […]

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