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'Homicide' duty dream assignment for cast rookie

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Reed Diamond wanted to become a police officer years ago. He thought he'd love police work, all that down-and-dirty crime-solving. He even hung out with cops -- only to learn many of them wanted to be actors.

Mr. Diamond didn't become a cop, but he will play one on TV. The 28-year-old actor from New York is the newest cast member of NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street." In its fourth season, the Baltimore-based drama begins production Monday.

At the Hollywood Diner yesterday, Gov. Parris Glendening and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke welcomed the producers and cast of the Emmy-snubbed "Homicide" back to Baltimore.

The first of the new season's 22 shows will air in October.

"I view this series as a wonderful work of art," said Mr. Schmoke, who had a cameo on the show last season.

The diner (as in Barry Levinson's "Diner") was crawling with cameras, humidity and cakes decorated with chalked outlines of murder victims. Most of the "Homicide" gang was there, including Richard Belzer (John Munch), Melissa Leo (Kay Howard) and the formidable Andre Braugher (Frank Pembleton).

Co-producer Barry Levinson wasn't in town because he's filming a movie. Also missing were recently departed cast members Ned Beatty and Daniel Baldwin, who left the show to do feature films.

Mr. Diamond steps in on the show as arson investigator Mike Kellerman.

Det. Kellerman will eventually become the new partner of Meldrick Lewis, played by Clark Johnson.

"I feel like I'm 8 years old," Mr. Diamond said yesterday. "It's like the first day of school."

He did look like the new kid in class, as he shook the mayor's hand, the governor's hand and dozens of untitled hands.

He looked a little jittery, then Reed Diamond took off his sunglasses and looked back at us. Baltimore, after all, is an uncredited character in "Homicide."

And the new guy has been taking a crash course on his new home. He's been to the National Aquarium, had crabs at Obrycki's, and is bound to see a ballgame at Camden Yards.

Although he has had roles in made-for-TV movies, this will be his first series. Mr. Diamond has worked mostly in films, appearing in 1990's "Memphis Belle" and most recently with Sylvester Stallone in the just-finished "The Assassin."

PD Despite the show's erratic airing, Mr. Diamond has been a fan of

"Homicide," what he calls a "really down-to-earth" police drama.

During the five minutes reporters had yesterday with cast members, Mr. Diamond graciously answered all the who-are-you? questions, and then the rookie was left to finish his spinach quiche in peace.

You'll see him Friday nights on TV in the fall.

But for now, few will recognize the new cast member.

"My favorite one just left," said the kid behind the counter. "The bald-headed man."

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