With ‘Golden Boy,’ Greg Berlanti enters a new precinct


As the creative force behind shows like “Everwood” and “Arrow,” not to mention a principal on movies like “Green Lantern,” Greg Berlanti has a pretty diverse pedigree.

But he acknowledges his new series, the CBS cop drama “Golden Boy,” is a push into unfamiliar territory.

“It’s unlike most of what I’ve done before,” Berlanti told The Times in an interview, adding that he’s long wanted to produce a police show because of both “the closed endings and the characters in that world.”


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Executive produced by Berlanti and “NYPD Blue” veteran Nicholas Wootton, “Golden Boy” follows the story of Walter Clark (Theo James), a rookie NYPD cop who, we learn in the pilot, ascends to police commissioner in a bullet-quick seven years. (The show, which costars Chi McBride, will follow Clark’s personal and professional arc over that time; essentially, we know he’s had a remarkable ascent but we don’t know at what cost.)

Berlanti said the series contains some contrasts with his other series on the air, the superhero-themed CW hit “Arrow.”

“You’re not dealing with someone putting arrows in people, so in a way it’s less dark,” he said. “But you’re dealing with human emotions, and in a way that makes it darker.” Wootton previously said in an interview that “this is a show about a character who can make mistakes, but you still forgive him those mistakes.”

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Incidentally, Berlanti is also involved in a movie about the folly of youth: He is developing and on board to direct “Replay,” a kind of “Groundhog Day”-meets-“Peggy Sue Got Married” tale in which an adult journalist wakes up in 1963 as his teenage self and receives the chance to relive his younger years; Berlanti said the property is his priority on the film side.

“Golden Boy” premiered on Tuesday to decent if not spectacular ratings, outdrawing the competition -- ABC’s “Body of Proof” and NBC’s “Smash” -- but losing a strong chunk of its “NCIS: Los Angeles” lead-in in garnering 10.6 million viewers and a 1.8 rating among adults 18-49.

Wootton won an Emmy while still in his 20s for his work on “NYPD Blue,” which occurred at the same late ‘90s moment that Berlanti was finding success on WB teen staple “Dawson’s Creek.” Berlanti said he and Wootton partly based their “Golden Boy” protagonist on their own lives and the experience of an unexpected ascent through Hollywood, a world perhaps as treacherous as the NYPD.

“You have this success but it’s not all you think it is,” Berlanti said. “There are many fathers through the experience, and some pitfalls.”

Though the pair has a lot more experience under their belts, Berlanti, now 40, said he believes the theme of youthful ambition is more timely than ever.

“We’re at a moment in our culture where we see have young people have a lot of aspirations and success that I’m not sure they’re always ready for,” Berlanti said, referencing Mark Zuckerburg’s story in “The Social Network.” “And there’s very good drama in whether they’re going to sink or swim.”


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