Proud “Boston Boy” Donnie Wahlberg Salutes His Hometown Police Force In TNT’s New Reality Show. By Lori Acken
Donnie Walhberg knows a thing or two about playing a cop on TV and in the movies, having embodied more than a dozen lawmen since he parlayed his New Kids on the Block fame into a successful acting career in the mid ’90s. But when Wahlberg, who currently stars as Detective Danny Reagan in the hit CBS cop drama Blue Bloods, decided to produce a law enforcement show of his own, he knew exactly whom he wanted for his stars — the real men and women of Boston’s police force.
“It’s my hometown,” Wahlberg explains of the resulting show, Boston’s Finest. “And the Boston Police Department works in a way that’s very different from most police departments. They’re very much about preventative law enforcement as opposed to responsive law enforcement, so they work really hard at keeping things from happening in the first place, as opposed to reacting when they do happen.”
Wahlberg credits his work on Blue Bloods for giving him a new level of respect for and understanding of folks entrusted with the safety of the very neighborhoods in which they grew up. And it’s that personal side of the patrolmen that he wants to convey over the door-busting and head-bashing of other police-related reality shows. “If you know how passionate a police officer is and what his upbringing is and why he’s so motivated to do the job he does, you can see him in a lot less dangerous a situation and still care that much more for him,” Wahlberg says. “It’s not just some guy in a blue uniform who’s supposed to be a superhero — he’s a human being with a family and vulnerabilities and responsibilities. You can actually heighten the drama by knowing more about the person.”
Wahlberg cites an episode featuring a member of Boston’s gang unit. “He’s talking to gangbangers on the most dangerous streets in Boston — and all the while there’s a huge amount of tension because a gangbanger was killed and now there’s a war ready to break out. We get to know more about him and how he came very close to being in one of these gangs himself, but now he’s working the other side of it. And when the funeral of the gangbanger passes by at the end and there hasn’t been any violence erupting, you see just how much it means to this police officer and how determined he is to keep these kids from taking each other’s lives. It’s really, really powerful.”
As powerful as Wahlberg’s drive to honor the code of the force that entrusted him to tell its stories. “If I don’t honor that and the show has huge ratings, then I’ve only done a service to myself — and I can’t do that,” Wahlberg says. “I’m a Boston boy! I want to make the city proud.”
Boston’s Finest premieres Wednesday, Feb. 27 on TNT.
With her fresh-scrubbed beauty and natural self-possession, actress Neve Campbell makes a believable ex-Amish heroine in Lifetime’s new original film, An Amish Murder.
The twisty mystery, based on Linda Castillo’s best-selling novel Sworn to Silence, features the Party of Five favorite as Kate Burkholder, an Amish exile from tiny Painter’s Mill, Ohio, who comes back home as its chief of police and finds herself embroiled in a gruesome serial murder case that dredges up horrific memories from her youth. Joined by a visiting detective (Rookie Blue’s Noam Jenkins) with demons of his own, Burkholder finds it increasingly difficult to separate the personal from the professional in tracking down a killer she thought could never strike again.
The film is the first project in a development deal Campbell recently signed with Lifetime — and one she says she was drawn to for the chance to delve deeper into a culture she finds fascinating for its focus on family and self-contained calm in a country full of chaos.
“There’s something especially interesting about the Amish community today, because if you think about the recession, they probably weren’t affected,” says Campbell, who mastered serviceable Pennsylvania Dutch and logged hours racing around in the Canadian cold while five months pregnant with son Caspian for the role. “They’re self-sufficient and everything that they do is within their own community. They’re not dependent on the outside world; not dependent on electricity or oil or those kinds of things. And there is something really beautiful about their love of family and their respect for their faith.”
Speaking of family, Campbell took advantage of her dual role as executive producer to suggest one particular actor to play Kate Burkholder’s brother Jacob, a practicing Amish who struggles with having to shun his sister when she desperately needs his help. Jacob is played by Campbell’s own brother, Christian (Big Love).
“This is the first time we’re playing brother and sister, so that was fun!” Campbell chuckles. “There was the brother character in the project, so when I spoke to Lifetime about it, I said, ‘Well it would seem obvious — I actually have a brother and he’s an actor. A successful actor!’ They were very pleased to get him, so it worked out well.”
Directed by Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal’s dad, Stephen, An Amish Murder also features The Walking Dead’s IronE Singleton and C. Thomas Howell (Southland, E.T.) as Campbell’s fellow cops.
An Amish Murder > Lifetime > Jan. 6