*Laz Alonso is stirring things up on NBC’s “Deception” (Mondays at 10) as a federal agent who has his ex-girlfriend cop going undercover in the family home of her childhood best friend – who died under shady circumstances in the pilot episode.
Viewers have been few and far between, with ratings below NBC’s expectations and many devotees dismissing episodes as too predictable to continue watching.
For Alonso, who has worked steadily in both film and television since 2000 – including memorable turns in “Stomp the Yard,” “Jumping the Broom” and the A&E drama “Breakout Kings” – his decision to take on “Deception” started with a script that stood out from the rest he’d been sent.
“It was the one pilot I read that season that I couldn’t put down,” Alonzo told us. “It was a page turner, and I found myself reading it more for my own personal enjoyment that studying an audition that I was gonna have in a couple of days. And that’s how I knew there was something special here that I really wanted to be a part of.
Below, Alonso explains his character Will’s ulterior motive with Det. Joanna Locasto, his ex-girlfriend played by the show’s star Meagan Good.
Below, watch “the big showdown” between Laz and Meagan in a preview of the Monday, March 11 episode, “You’re the Bad Guy,” where Will fires Joanna from the case after learning she slept with one of the family members – her first love.
*Actor Laz Alonso has been cast as the male lead opposite Meagan Good in NBC’s drama pilot “Notorious.”
As previously reported, Good stars as detective Joanna Locasto, who returns undercover to the wealthy and troubled Lawson family she grew up in — as the housekeeper’s daughter — to solve the murder of celebutante Vivian Lawson, who was once her closest friend.
Alonzo will play NYPD detective Will Sacovitch, who recruits former flame Joanna to infiltrate the Lawson home, in the hope of finding evidence that Vivian was murdered.
He segues to “Notorious” from A&E’s “Breakout Kings.”
Laz Alonso as Deputy John Burke in a scene from Screen Gems' "Straw Dogs," opening nationwide Sept. 16
*Laz Alonso’s career is on fire.
The 37-year-old Washington DC native, whose recent credits include “Avatar,” “Jumping the Broom” and A&E’s “Breakout Kings,” says his ability to make critically-acclaimed footprints in Hollywood has just as much to do with the films he turns down as the ones he takes.
“Looking at my career, in the last year in particular, what actually brought my biggest leap of success was not working as opposed to working,” he tells EURweb’s Lee Bailey in a phone interview. “I got to a certain point where I was getting a lot of opportunities to play certain types of roles that I did not feel had longevity in them. I had a conversation with my agent and I told him straight up, look, say no to any of these roles. I don’t want to entertain them. I don’t want to do them anymore. I really want to change the course of where my career is starting to go and I can kind of see and feel [where it’s going.] I want to play roles that I’m proud of, that I feel a certain integrity about, and I want to continue to be truthful in the work that I do.”
Alonso admits things were “quiet for a while” after he made this pivotal career decision on the heels of “Avatar,” hoping to continue in roles of similar substance. His patience paid off when the scripts for “Jump the Broom” and “Breakout Kings” came across his desk.
“When I read them, I felt like the characters were morally right,” he says. “They had integrity, self-respect, and in some cases, they were the voice of reason.”
Alonso feels the same way about his latest film, “Straw Dogs.” Opening this Friday (Sept. 16), the story follows screenwriter David Sumner (James Marsden) and his wife, Amy (Kate Bosworth), as they move back to Amy’s hometown in the Deep South and face increasing conflict with the locals (Alexander Skarsgård, Walton Goggins).
James Marsden and Laz Alonso in "Straw Dogs"
Alonso, who plays the town sheriff, says his character is in step with his decision to only take roles that contribute something positive to the story.
“It wasn’t necessarily a lead in the film, but what I loved about this character was that he stood out from the standpoint of there’s tension all around him, and he takes the air out of that tension in every scene he’s in,” Alonso says.
Promos for the film, a remake of Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 psychological thriller starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George, keep viewers guessing about the exact cause of the tension. But in the bonus audio below, Alonso drops hints about a racial element that may serve as one of the film’s final “straws.” [Scroll down to watch the trailers. FYI, Alonso does not appear in either trailer.]
*A&E has announced that its freshman drama, “Breakout Kings,” is returning for a second season.
Laz Alonso stars in the show that follows a team of U.S. Marshals who make a special deal with several current prisoners in order to catch escaped convicts. Their sentences will be reduced by one month for each fugitive they bring in, but if any of them attempts to flee, they will all be returned to their original prisons, and their sentences will be doubled.
Earlier this year, the show drew strong ratings after its premiere, which attracted 2.8 million total viewers, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Fans can expect ten episodes and Season 2 will go into production later this year. A premiere date is likely in the first quarter.
The series also stars Domenick Lombardozzi, Jimmi Simpson, Malcolm Goodwin, Serinda Swan and Brooke Nevin.
*The Hollywood Reporter’s Nellie Andreeva has written a piece detailing an unprecedented boost in diversity among drama pilots targeted for the fall.
“Halfway through the castings of broadcast drama pilots this season, the top-billed actors on four pilots are non-Caucasian,” Andreeva writes. “What’s more, the four projects are among the highest-profile drama pilots this year.
The spy couple at the center of J.J. Abrams’ “Undercovers” for NBC is played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Boris Kodjoe. Forest Whitaker is the lead on CBS’ “Criminal Minds” spinoff; Laz Alonso tops the Fox action-drama “Breakout Kings,” directed and exec produced by Gavin Hood; and Freddy Rodriguez headlines CBS’ CIA drama “Chaos,” directed and executive produced by Brett Ratner.
Last year’s crop of broadcast pilots included only one fronted by a minority actor, the LL Cool J starrer “NCIS: Los Angeles.” The season before that, there were no pilots led by minorities.
But whether it’s the Obama effect or any other reason, the tide seems to have turned during the past year.
“NCIS: LA” has been a runaway success, becoming the first major hit drama series toplined by a black actor, and CBS replaced iconic “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” star William Petersen with Laurence Fishburne.
And in cable, where there hadn’t been a drama toplined by a black actor since the departure of HBO’s “The Wire,” Jada Pinkett Smith was tapped as the lead of TNT’s medical drama “Hawthorne,” which has been renewed for a second season.
By setting black actors as leads in its three biggest crime franchises — “CSI” (Fishburne), “NCIS” (LL Cool J) and “Criminal Minds” (Whitaker) — as well as shepherding the Dennis Haysbert-starring war drama “The Unit” for four seasons, CBS has been at the forefront of the trend of putting minority actors in charge of drama series.
Laz Alonso stars in Fox's "Breakout Kings"
The network is also behind two of the four drama pilots that already have tapped minority leads: the “Criminal Minds” spinoff and “Chaos.”
“Diversity is top of mind for us every pilot season,” CBS head of casting Peter Golden said. “It’s still very early in the development process, but we’re excited about diverse roles we have on the page and the performers cast for the screen.”
Black comedians have a strong tradition on TV, and viewers have had no problem embracing comedy series with black leads. But dramas offer a different dynamic and require a larger degree of relatability, which makes it harder for white audiences to accept an ethnic show, TV historian Tim Brooks said.
Continue reading the Hollywood Reporter article here.