Fox's Code 58 a howl for now
by Ed Bark on January 13th 2010 at 5:44 am
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PASADENA, Calif. -- And now for the most unexpectedly entertaining presentation at the ongoing Television Critics Association press tour.
Not a speck of film has been shot yet on Code 58, which is scheduled to begin production on Jan. 26th in Dallas. But Fox already has ordered 13 episodes and given the show a May 12th sneak-preview date before it moves to Mondays in June. Behind the camera is executive producer Matt Nix, who also created the acclaimed Burn Notice for USA network.
The three were winningly quick and loose with their questioners. Whitford, 50, who plays a washed-up, old-school drunken detective, made fun of both the mustache he's grown for the role and the age gap between the 32-year-old Hanks, cast as a snarky underachiever.
"Suddenly I've gone from thinking I'm a young actor to feeling like Ernest Borgnine," Whitford said. "I have a bright future behind me."
Whitford's character, Dan Stark, will be living in an RV in the vicinity of a ferris wheel. The show's production headquarters will be on the grounds of Dallas' Fair Park, home of the State Fair of Texas and Cotton Bowl stadium.
A mustache helps to make the character appropriately seedier, said Whitford, who initially grew it for a similar role in the NBC pilot Off Duty, which the network passed on.
"Women are very creeped out," he said. "I don't know if it's Boogie Nights or what . . . My kids hate it."
Code 58 is the Dallas police code for supposedly routine investigations. But it's billed as a working title, and likely will be changed.
"In Japan, we're hoping they're going to call it 'Opposite Buddy Cop Show,' " Hanks cracked.
Whitford describes the series as "the lighter side of lecher-ism and alcoholism."
Producer Nix says Dallas is a terrific playground for whatever scrapes his two lead cops get themselves into. On a "fairly typical day," according to Fox press materials, Stark and Jack Bailey (Hanks' character) are on the case of a stolen humidifier when they inadvertently get involved in a shootout over a pilfered golf bag belonging to a dangerous drug smuggler.
"And Tijuana was unavailable," Whitford noted.
Both Whitford and Hanks said they're willing to deal with the extra baggage of on-location shooting. Hitting the road is part of the deal when you "join the circus," said Hanks, referring to the acting profession.
"A good thing about (centrally located) Dallas is being able to pop back and forth," Whitford said.
The city remains best known as the TV home of the Ewings, who cavorted on CBS' Dallas from 1978-91. Code 58 -- or whatever it ends up being called -- for now is a poor relative in comparison. But its first impression was priceless.