When he was younger, actor Donnie Wahlberg often was on the wrong side of the law. Now he’s not only on the right side, he’s leading a cheering section for the boys in blue.
Wahlberg, one of nine kids from a blue-collar suburb of Boston, not only has played a policeman on two impressive TV series: “Boomtown” and CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” but he’s producing his own reality show about Beantown’s cops, “Boston’s Finest,” airing on TNT.
“It’s a big risk for any police department to do something like this, and I think, for them, they would only entrust it to a local boy,” he says in a noisy lounge of a hotel here.
“I speak the same language as the people that the show is about, and I come from the streets that they patrol and that they grew up on themselves.”
More: Congratulations on your new series, Boston’s Finest.
Donnie Wahlberg: I am so excited and proud of this series. I wanted to make a docudrama that would focus on the real lives of police offcers both on and off the job. Before filming could even begin, we had to earn the trust of these men and women. Our goal was to have the heart-stopping drama TNT fans expect to see yet not damage any relationships the charactes spent years building.
More: This time you are stepping behind the camera and calling the shots.
DW: Yes, I serve as the executive producer of the show. This has been a true labor of love.
More: In addition to this show, you also star as Detective Danny Reagan on the CBS drama Blue Bloods. You have a real things for cops, huh?
DW: I do [Laughs}. Heck, having played a cop quite a few times, I hope I have learned from all of these experiences. Frankly, I think Blue Bloods has prepared to do this new program. I now understand the procedural world of a police officer in many situations, such as catching the bad guy and, of course, making it home safe to their families every night.
More: Blue Blood focuses a lot on the importance of family, including having real sit-down family dinners. What is Donnie’s view on family?
DW: That family dinner scene was the main reason I did Blue Bloods. I got the script for the show at the same time I was reading a bunch of different pilots. When I saw how that dinner scene would be in every episode, I got hooked, because that is a slice right out of my real life.
It’s been a busy week for multi-tasker Donnie Wahlberg. The star of CBS’s “Blue Bloods” — who’s also executive producing TNT’s new drama “Boston’s Finest” and preparing for a summer tour with New Kids on the Block — was in town over the weekend for a photo shoot at XV Beacon (below) that will appear in CBS Watch magazine. He was joined for the shoot by Heidi, the Bernese mountain dog that belongs to XV Beacon’s general manager, Amy Finsilver. By Monday, Wahlberg was already back in New York. He tweeted Monday afternoon, “Wrapped #BlueBloods for the day! Off to . . . brainstorm for #ThePackageTour. Then to @TheDailyShow with Jon Stewart!” The guy is productive.
The movie industry has been pretty good to Boston over the last couple years, sending many more Hollywood productions to the Hub. But things have been quieter on the television front. And as much as we love Cheers, it might be nice for Bostonians to see themselves on the small screen in a show that didn’t end twenty years ago.
The tides seem to be turning, but we’re not sure that’s a good thing. Last month A&E debuted Southie Rules, a miserable misfire that offended basically everyone. Not because it featured local yokel caricatures (“Massholes” love to laugh at themselves), but because its transparently scripted approach to an “unscripted” series was so profoundly embarrassing and unfunny, I wanted to gouge my eyes out with a Dunkin’ Donuts straw. Next month VH1 rolls out Wicked Single, a reality show about a fun-loving group of twenty and thirty-something friends who enjoy hanging out, pahtying hahd, and embarrassing grandma in her final days. (The show premieres on St. Patrick’s Day because – drunk and Irish, get it?) And CBS recently ordered a pilot for “The McCarthy’s,” a sitcom that will star comedian Brian Gallivan as the gay son of a straight-laced Irish-Catholic family, which would have sounded really funny and edgy in 1996.
Sigh. We can do better. And we have, it seems, with Boston’s Finest.
Detective Tim Stanton and officer Myles Lawton are ready for their close-ups on Donnie Wahlberg’s (“Blue Bloods”) unscripted police drama “Boston’s Finest,” premiering Wednesday at 9 p.m. on TNT.
“It’s a unique opportunity. People have an idea of what the Boston Police do, and they are going to get a real-life version,” said South Boston-raised Stanton, 46. “If you are expecting ‘Cops,’ you are in for a surprise.”
Stanton and Lawton, 36, are among 19 members of the Boston Police Department profiled on- and off-duty.
Stanton, a 24-year veteran of the force, came to the project having previously done “Cops” and a Spike TV program.
“We didn’t want to portray the city of Boston or the Boston Police Department as a pack of goons,” Stanton said. “There are state-of-the-art tools that are used, and a lot goes into solving crimes and cases. It is going to bring people’s views of the Boston Police Department into the 21st century.”
Actor/musician Donnie Wahlberg held a red carpet premiere for the TV show Boston’s Finest. Wahlberg is the executive producer of the reality show about Boston police officers. The Revere Hotel held the event where Wahlberg presented the first two episodes of the show with its “stars” and others involved in production. About the show (from TNT‘s press release):
This February, TNT is going to take viewers on a dramatic journey into the lives of Boston police officers – both on and off the job – in Boston’s Finest, a gripping new unscripted series from executive producers Donnie Wahlberg (Blue Bloods, New Kids on the Block) and Seth Jarrett and Julie Insogna-Jarrett (Celebrity Ghost Stories). Centering on the men and women of the Boston Police Department, Boston’s Finest will offer viewers an up-close and very personal look at what it takes to protect and serve one of America’s greatest and most distinctive cities. The series is set to premiere Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT), exclusively on TNT.
Unlike many unscripted series about law enforcement, Boston’s Finest will follow the fearless actions of the entire Boston Police Department, including patrol officers, detectives, special task forces and members of the SWAT Team, the Fugitive Unit and highly decorated Gang Unit.