Michael Warren, fondly remembered as officer Bobby Hill on the landmark "Hill Street Blues" joins the cast this week of the struggling NBC dramatic series "Sweet Justice."
Warren plays highly principled community leader Michael (T-Dog) Turner, who falls in love with strong-minded attorney Carrie Grace Battle (Cicely Tyson).
"I was supposed to do three episodes and they added another one," Warren says. "The character is not really that developed, so the intrigue was really to work with Cicely again and executive producer John Romano and to be directed by a friend of mine, Mel Damski. Our sons played on the same soccer team years ago. The combination of the three really enticed me to do it."
Previously, Warren and Tyson appeared together in the 1990 TV movie "The Kid Who Loved Christmas." It was a memorable experience for the actor. "I see her as black royalty in the entertainment industry," he says of the multi-Emmy-winning Tyson. "She is easily the most celebrated black actress. She is a very attractive, stately woman. She is extremely youthful and vivacious. She is a hot lady!"
In Warren's first "Sweet Justice" episode, Turner and Battle are at odds. "She comes to this recreation center I run looking to get any kind of information she can on a boy she represents," Warren explains.
"I strongly suspect the kid murdered our most shining talent. He was, like, the hope for this community center and for the community at large. I strongly suspect this 13-year-old kid who had been one of my kids. She is trying to do her job to the best of her ability. I won't help her because I think the kid is guilty."
But their feelings changed at the murdered boy's funeral. "I see a side of her that she hadn't shown me and she sees a side of me at the funeral that she hadn't seen. We kind of gravitate toward each other."
Warren has fond recollections of his seven-season stint on the Emmy Award-winning "Hill Street Blues," which left the air in May, 1987. "The one bad one I have is that it went off the air," he says, chuckling. "I have nothing but very warm memories about 'Hill Street.' It was a unique time in my development as an actor. I occasionally see the people (from the series) and it is always with a lot of warmth and affection that we greet one another."
"Hill Street," he says, "without question, was way ahead of its time, as is indicated now by 'NYPD Blue.' The audience essentially caught up with that genre--the method of shooting, that method of telling a story. I think as a result, 'NYPD Blue," is, like, a huge hit."
Warren, who played basketball on UCLA's famed college team in the late '60s, acknowledges that his life has been blessed. "As a basketball player, I played on perhaps arguably one of the greatest basketball teams in college athletics, and having played with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and coach John Wooden and then to go to 'Hill Street,' which is, like, the premier dramatic show, and then to work with Cicely. Boy, I tell you....."
"Sweet Justice" airs a special episode Friday at 10 p.m. on NBC and then returns to its regular time slot, Saturdays at 9 p.m. on April 1; repeats of "Hill Street Blues" air weeknights at 10 on KDOC.