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Continuing to ride on the coat tails of a successful ratings summer, CBS has some great shows debuting that are sure to lure in viewers this fall. My personal favorite: “Smith”. While the show is formulaic in its style, (it’s a drama about the lives of professional criminals), I predict this show will be a hit due to its high calibre, A-list cast—Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Amy Smart, Jonny Lee Miller, (Angelina’s ex), “Crash” star Shohreh Aghdashloo--and a tight script.

Veteran actor Ray Liotta is returning to his television series roots (did you know he was once on a soap opera?!) Liotta explained, “The producers asked me to do an episode of "ER" and I really liked working with them. It came out nice. I wasn't looking to do a series, but when you have (“ER” producer) John Wells asking you to do something, I just felt honored to be a part of it. We have a great cast, so it just seemed like a natural thing to do.”

Asked why he wanted to leave film to go into television, Liotta said, “I don't really think it's a step down. If anything, TV has obviously gotten better and better and movies have gotten more generalized.”

Adds Virginia Madsen, who co-stars in “Smith” playing Liotta’s wife, “I've always worked in different mediums, and I don't intend to change that. It's more about the material than the medium. I've spent many, many years, as Ray has also, working on small independent films. We work at quite a pace, and that pace seemed familiar to me coming to this show. It didn't really seem like, "Oh, now it's TV."

“Sometimes, there are better roles for women, and certainly John writes amazing stories for women on all of his shows,” said Madsen. “There are really strong characters, much more so than on most of the theatrical features that I read. I'd like to continue going back and forth, but it didn't really seem all that different to either one of us.”

(All right, we know."Shark" didn't make it. But just for the record, we really liked it, in fact, we loved it, and we'd like to see more of it. -the editor)

Another CBS show that has potential is “Shark”, which stars James Woods as a highly paid, highly successful, snarky defense lawyer forced into service for the prosecution. As a district attorney for the state of California, he's asked to go after the same celebrities he used to defend, which sounds delicious.

Woods says his character's opinions on truth and justice in the entire legal system don’t differ from his own. “When I was a kid, my aunt was secretary to the public defender for 28 years and I was around the legal system. And she was sort of the Switzerland of Rhode Island, and Rhode Island was what we used to call the parking lot of the Mafia. So whenever the Mafia wanted to talk to the feds or the superior court judges or whatever, they always did it through my aunt. And I learned early on that justice is a lot about negotiation. It's not dissimilar from the Hollywood business. It's full of a lot of strange and scurrilously awful people who somehow manage to keep the wheel going!”

Woods added: “Our story will be about a man with overwhelming narcissism and ego who was knocked down so many pegs from where he started, and finds his way back by believing in justice. So I'm very moved to play the part, because I think it will be an inspiration somehow to see a guy who went the wrong way for so long find his way back by believing in something.”

In the comedy department, CBS has “Class,” which follows a unique group of childhood friends who are reunited. Every so often you think about the past—‘whatever happened to…’ which is why I think audiences might find this show charming. The most well-known star in this ensemble cast is “Joan of Arcadia”’s Jason Ritter, who as he ages, continues to look just like his dad!

“I’m really excited about this role!” enthused Ritter. “It’s fun to do something light hearted and fun. All the characters are really interesting, and there is just a lot we can explore with this theme.”

And the topics they discuss, like depression and suicide—while dark in tone—are taken more light-heartedly as well. Said actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “It's really comedy in threes. You try to take pills three times and on the third time you do it finally. That's what hit me. Anything in threes is going to be funny. At least that is what I was told in acting class! But really, I'm fascinated with where this character is going to go. I think it's a little different to have the introduction to a major character illustrate that he's trying to off himself. It's, "Is he going to make it this episode?" I'm very anxious to see where he goes. Also, I tell people, he's suicidal and he's depressed, but in a sitcom way, so it's lightish.”

Should be very interesting! Tune in to find out!

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 60 - September 3015
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