Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE: The prospect of FX doing what would be the first series centered on an illegal immigrant character sure brought up a lot of emotions today. Here is the project’s writer Chap Taylor responding to the criticism in some of the comments posted after the story was picked up by the Drudge Report:

I’m not here to insult anyone or make assumptions about their intelligence, patriotism or morality based on the networks they watch or the web sites they view. I would just like to respectfully make the following points:

1.) I am a middle-aged white guy, a practicing Roman Catholic, and a former Army paratrooper (peacetime). I am about as American as American gets. I would appreciate it if you would not pre-judge my character and intentions before you actually see the show.

2.) The pilot script hasn’t even been written yet. For people from any background to decide the value of a show before it even exists on paper, let alone has been shot, edited and broadcast is a little unfair.

3.) As several people on this comments thread have pointed out, some of the most beloved films and television programs of the last fifty years have featured characters who are gangsters, thieves and/or murderers. Aside from CITIZEN KANE, THE GODFATHER is pretty regularly named the greatest American movie ever made. The protagonist of that movie orders dozens of murders, presides over a nationwide criminal network, and ultimately murders both his brother and his brother-in-law.

4 ) The pedophile/rapist comparisons are a little out of line. I mean, seriously, watch the show before you say our lead is the moral equivalent of a guy who rapes kids.

5.) We absolutely do not intend to whitewash anyone. It will not be a show about beastly white folks or saintly immigrants. Like any good drama, we hope to make a show about people in extreme circumstances who have to make decisions – some good, some bad, and some really ugly.

6.) If we’re lucky enough to get on the air, I would respectfully request you watch the first episode before you decide one way or the other. If you then decide that you want to express your disapproval by boycotting the show, that is your right. I know, because I spent three years of my life defending it.

EXCLUSIVE 1:30 PM: It is a premise that would no doubt spark controversy. FX has put in development  the first major series project centered on an illegal alien character, a drama from Changing Lanes writer Chap Taylor about an illegal Mexican immigrant working as a private investigator. TV and film director Rodrigo Garcia, born in Colombia, has come on board to direct and executive produce the project, described as “Traffic meets Chinatown.” Also executive producing are Taylor, Dawn Parouse & Marti Noxon of Grady Twins and Garcia’s frequent collaborator, producer Julie Lynn.

Once a staple on TV, the private eye genre has almost disappeared in the past decade or so. The networks have taken numerous stabs at launching a new PI series, including such high-profile recent efforts as ABC’s Marlowe remake, NBC’s Rockford Files reboot and HBO’s noir comedy Bored to Death, which was just renewed for a third season. But Taylor says that most PI shows “have really focused on the style – fedora, trench coat, etc. – and not on the essence of what a PI is: a powerless individual sticking up for other people without power in a corrupt society.” He points to Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe who lived in the fringe of Los Angeles at a time when the city was riddled with corruption. Taylor decided to look for a contemporary counterpart to Marlowe, asking himself: “Who today is on the outer fringes of Los Angeles but sees everything?” The answer – an illegal immigrant from Mexico.

In addition to relying on his own sleuthing skills, by being an illigal immigrant, the PI on the show will be able to tap into a network of other immigrants. “It’s an invisible network of people we don’t pay attention to who see everything,” Taylor said. “They take care of our kids, they mow our lawns, they deliver our food, they mop the floors at our offices, they park our cars. They know if we recycle, and they know if we are cheating on our wives.” The PI drama will be dark and authentic, and Taylor stresses that this it not turn into “the immigrant of the week” story. “The theme is about helping the powerless in a corrupt society who can be from the immigrant or the Anglo community,” he said, noting that a trophy wife in Beverly Hills who is completely dependent on her husband “is just a powerless as her cleaning lady.” He added that the show won’t be limited to Latino illegal immigrants only, as a plumber could be a professor from Poland and the bagger at the grocery story may be a philosophy major from Montreal.

The project is taking on the hot-button issue of illegal immigration, and Taylor is well aware that it would probably stir controversy and possible accusations that, with an illegal as the hero, the show glorifies people who are in this country illegally. But “in Los Angeles and in the U.S., people’s lives are built on the labor of those immigrants,” Taylor said. “Our job is to tell good stories as honestly as we possibly can. If everyone is mad at us, we’ve done our job.” Garcia, son of Columbian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, directed the pilot for HBO’s Big Love and is executive producing the network’s drama series In Treatment, which he co-developed. Garcia, Taylor and Grady Twins are repped by WME.

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