The first episode of “Tommy,” which stars Emmy-winner Edie Falco as a former high-ranking New York Police Department officer who becomes the first female chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, will be rerun at 8 p.m. Saturday evening on CBS.
The series, which premiered Thursday, was created by Paul Attanasio, the creator of the 1993-99 NBC police drama “Homicide: Life on the Street,” and inspired by the fact that police departments of the nation’s three largest cities — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — have never had a female chief, said executive producer and showrunner Tom Szentgyorgyi.
Attanasio also wanted to “create a different kind of cop show,” Szentgyorgyi said.
“(He) had observed that cop shows with male leads tend to be shows about action, and cop shows with female leads tend to be shows about relationships,” Szentgyorgyi said last month at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour.
“He was interested in writing about relationships and about politics — not the politics of elections, not `West Wing’ stuff — but politics as they’re lived on the street, the politics of who gets arrested and who doesn’t, the politics of who gets heard and who doesn’t, and the politics of how power is exerted and challenged in our daily lives.”
“Tommy” was “shaped” with Falco — a 14-time Emmy nominee and four-time Emmy winner, best known for portraying mob wife Carmela Soprano on “The Sopranos” — in mind, Szentgyorgyi said.
Attanasio’s formal involvement with “Tommy” ended with the pilot, Szentgyorgyi said.
“It tends to be how Paul works,” Szentgyorgyi said. “Paul’s a ship builder. He likes to build the ship and then send it off.”
To get a better idea of the challenges faced by female police chiefs, the show’s producers spoke with two women who had been chiefs of departments and a third who had been an assistant chief about their experiences, Szentgyorgyi said. (Szentgyorgyi did not disclose their names because he said they did not agree to be publicly identified.)
“Tommy’s” consultants included David Bratton, the son of Bill Bratton, the former Los Angeles Police Department chief and New York City police commissioner. The series’ script consultants include a 20-year veteran of the LAPD.
The show’s staff of seven writers and one writer’s assistant — all of whom are credited on scripts this season — is half male, half female, with half identifying as LGBTQ, Szentgyorgyi said. Two writers are African American.
Szentgyorgyi’s credits include being a producer of the acclaimed ABC police drama “NYPD Blue” from 2002-05 and the CBS crime drama “The Mentalist” from 2009-15.
Falco’s character — Abigail “Tommy” Thomas — inherits a scandal-plagued LAPD. Her predecessor (Corbin Bernsen) was forced from his job for texting pictures of his penis to the chief of traffic enforcement, officers were caught running a prostitution ring with an underage girl with a learning disability, and a consent decree put the department under the control of a federal judge, who forced Mayor Buddy Gray (Thomas Sadoski) to hire a woman as chief.
Szentgyorgyi describes “Tommy” as being “about a woman who is an outsider in every sense who comes in and takes over the LAPD and finds that both constitutionally and structurally she is a disrupter in that world. She is not the kind of chief they’ve had in the past in any way.”
Saturday evening’s episode focuses on the attempt by an LAPD officer to interfere with the apprehension of a woman suspected of living in the country illegally by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and its ramifications.
Topics for future episodes include sexual harassment and a homicide that emerges from that, human trafficking, how to treat a young baseball prospect found with a gun and a young, wealthy Saudi Arabian woman who comes to Tommy to seek asylum from her family, Szentgyorgyi said.
“Tommy” was filmed almost entirely in New York City because Falco lives there with her two children, Szentgyorgyi said.
“It was a given from the start,” Szentgyorgyi told City News Service. “Paul wanted to write about Los Angeles. It was a given she was in New York, so we decided we would film in New York.”
To make New York City appear to be Los Angeles “we had a truck with our palm trees,” Falco said. “We’d stop in front of a bodega, take the palm trees out, put them up, put them back in the truck.”
Szentgyorgyi said consideration was given to printing a T-shirt with “Here’s the location. Where does the palm tree go?” on it.