This Week's September 13 through September 19 COVER STORY 'Private Eye' captures spirit of the '50s BjrJoiButliguM HOLLYWOOD - TV beats yet another cliche to death this season: One-third of all the new shows feature either a cop or a private detective as a lead character. In concept, look and content, however, the standout among them is "Private Eye," NBC's new Friday-night entry, which gets a special two-hour "preview" Sunday, Sept. 13. "Private Eye" recalls the classic Mkkael Woods TV detective shows by returning to their era, the late '60s; by adopting a visual style that evokes the film noir genre; by recalling the violent streets, smart dialogue and hero- with-a-moral-code of Raymond Chandler's stories; and by incorporating a superb jazz score (by Joe Jackson). It's easy to label this mixture "77 Sunset Strip" meets "Crime Story." Michael Woods ("Our Family Honor") plays Jack Cleary, a former L. A. cop who, in the pilot, seeks to solve his private-eye brother's murder with the help of duck-tailed street hustler Johnny Belts (Josh Brolin, son of James). Cleary takes over the business and inherits his brother's gum-chewing, aspiring-actress secretary (Lisa Jane Persky). loth Brolin (I.) and Michael Woods star in "Private Eye." A special preview will air Sunday, Sept. 13. The series will also air Friday, Sept. IS, in its regular NBC time slot. Creator-producer Anthony Yerkovich (who also created the equally sleek-looking "Miami Vice") was fascinated by the period. "It was right around the birth of rock 'n' roll. Certain changes hadn't taken place yet, but the seeds of change were being planted right then. "It's not a traditional cops-and- robbers piece," Yerkovich continues. "It's more of a film noir psychological thriller." When anachronisms in the pilot are point- ed out, he responds, "A lot of times you have to go for a dramatic or narrative integrity rather than historical or documentary integrity. From the very start, I wanted to bring a heightened reality to the screen." What has also been heightened is the expense. Universal has reportedly balked at the high budget. Yerkovich says the '60s cars and clothes add "at least 16 percent" to a one- hour series budget. The budget may require some belt-tightening.
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