TNT aims to turn the law on its head in 'Franklin & Bash'
Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Malcolm McDowell and Breckin Meyer (from left) star in "Franklin & Bash," premiering Wednesday on TNT.
After shooting its pilot in Atlanta, TNT's new comedy-drama "Franklin & Bash," executive produced by Jamie Tarses and the writing team of Kevin Falls and Bill Chais, has landed on sets in Santa Clarita, Calif., just north of Los Angeles, along with locations around the L.A. area. It premieres on Wednesday, June 1.
One of the main sets is the elegantly appointed headquarters of law firm Infeld Daniels in the Century City area of Los Angeles' upscale Westside.
McDowell plays Stanton Infeld, patriarch of the firm. In the scene being shot, he's conferring with two recent hires, brash legal partners Jared Franklin and Peter Bash (Breckin Meyer, Mark-Paul Gosselaar) while being flipped up and down on an inversion table in his office.
Along with Franklin and Bash came their legal aides, outspoken Carmen (Dana Davis) and agoraphobic, germ-averse Pindar (Kumail Nanjiani). Their arrival was also a source of irritation for Stanton's nephew, lawyer Damien Karp (Reed Diamond), and a source of interest for Damien's more-or-less girlfriend, lawyer Hanna Linden (Garcelle Beauvais).
While the flamboyant Infeld can command a room, even upside down, McDowell doesn't intimidate Gosselaar and Meyer.
"By the way," says Meyer, "Malcolm McDowell may be the greatest person on the planet. He's just awesome. He loves to play."
"He's a professional," Gosselaar says. "He shows up every single day; he knows his stuff. We have a veteran guy around, but he's also one of the funniest guys on the set. He's hilarious."
Infeld was attracted to the work ethic and success rates of Franklin and Bash, who've been together since grade school. Franklin's talent is connecting with judges and juries, Bash loves to challenge authority (although he's found his match in Infeld), and the two of them have crafted a unique courtroom style.
"It's a show," says Gosselaar, in his trailer with Meyer between scenes. "When these two are in court, they're putting on, as one of the judges says, dinner theater. It sort of signifies how we attack the jurors in the courtroom. In one trial, we get held in contempt because we turn the lights off "
"And use our light sabers," says Meyer.
"And use light sabers," continues Gosselaar, "to make our point. So it's not like other dramas."
Asked if real lawyers do such things, Gosselaar says, "Who cares? It's television."
"I do know," says Meyer, "that lawyers do more theatrics, because of what jurors now expect to see. They expect to see the guy stand up, do the little button on his jacket and present them a tale. They started doing it more, because it works, because suddenly you have the jury enthralled, and they're enraptured in what you're saying.
"One of Franklin and Bash's signatures, one of the things they have over Harvard grad blah-de-blahs, is that these guys will go to the mat for their clients. If it means embarrassing themselves and being thrown in jail, then so be it. It's going to be a good show."
Gosselaar has played a lawyer before, in TNT's recent "Raising the Bar," and Meyer is new to the role, but both enjoy the courtroom scenes.
"It feels like you're onstage," says Gosselaar.
"The first closing (argument) I did," Meyer says, "my character was a little bit inebriated. It was the first closing I'd done as an actor and as my character. It was literally fun."
When Franklin and Bash are not in their swanky new digs, they're in the "man-cave," the combination of house, office and party space they inhabit in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles, east of Hollywood.
Along with work spaces for the lawyers and aides, it features a wide-screen television, video games, leather couches, foosball and pool tables, a bar, darts, and a Jacuzzi.
"It's really big," Meyer says, "but it's run-down. There are exposed beams and things throughout, not like exposed in a nice way, but exposed in a 'We can't afford drywall yet' sort of way."
The two do manage to afford some nice threads. "My guy tends to be three-piece suits," Meyer says. "My guy tends to put more of a costume on."
"I'm a little more sleek in my style," says Gosselaar. "Also, I don't like to wear a lot of clothes, so I don't wear the undershirts. I don't wear the vest. Any chance I get to take off my jacket, loosen my shirt, take my clothes off."
"Yes," says Meyer, "he enjoys that."
Speaking of style, there was quite a fuss from fans about the long locks Gosselaar sported in "Raising the Bar," which are now a bit shorter for "Franklin & Bash."
"It's all about the hair," says Gosselaar. "What are you going to do?"