Jimmy Smits and Amanda Warren are taking to the streets of New York for justice.
The duo stars in CBS' new police drama, East New York, launching this Sunday, and only ET was on the set of the series this week. The one-hour drama follows newly promoted boss of the 74th Precinct in East New York, Regina Haywood (Warren), who is determined to deploy creative methods to protect her community. But first, she has to get her fellow officers and detectives on board, some of whom are skeptical of her promotion and others resistant to the changes she's desperate to make.
There are a lot of New York ties in the cast, as Smits grew up in the area and Warren is a Manhattan native. One of the big draws to the show for Smits, who plays Haywood's mentor, Chief John Suarez, was getting to film in his backyard, figuratively speaking.
"It’s one of the reasons I signed on to do this. This is kind of like the ode to Brooklyn in general but specifically when I heard when they were doing something that was called East New York, there’s a lot that I connect with in terms of the area and what it means to me and the framework in terms of what the story is about in this present time that we're in," he shared with ET. "It just resonated with me on a lot of different levels. That’s why I'm here."
"What’s so great about filming here is that we're in East New York and then around it, you really get the sense of what the community's like," Warren added. "There’s really beautiful people here, really beautiful parks and recreation, and activities to do. And we want to highlight that on the program."
East New York hails from executive producers William Finkelstein and Mike Flynn, the former of whom worked on NYPD Blue, which Smits starred in.
"It’s been 20 years since we did Blue, but a lot's happened and I think that’s one of the things that I really connected with," Smits explained, adding that there's a level of trust he had with Finkelstein from their time working together on NYPD Blue. "There’s a shorthand and I trust them in terms of what they're trying to say about law enforcement and policing and looking at this from a different view."
The TV veteran had nothing but glowing things to say about collaborating with Warren, calling her a "super talented actress." "Having to be in just about every scene like an athlete, that’s the way she compares it... and again that’s something that is a different kind of viewpoint than what we've seen in the past, so all of those things in concert and this New York thing it really means something to me."
Warren, meanwhile, looked forward to viewers being introduced to her character.
"What’s great about Regina is that she's this powerful woman, very independent, very compartmentalized with a lot of things that she's dealing with throughout the precinct -- with the administration, with the autocratic issues and then with the community in trying to build a bridge [with] law enforcement," she teed up. "So we see this kind of community policing that starts to happen in a different way, in a more nuanced way that Regina creates and it’s really beautiful. And then you also see all these other really great characters and their backstory and lives as well."
Smits also teased Chief Suarez, describing him as someone who's seen it all and been around the block.
"I'm not going to say he's old school but he has gone through the department and had to navigate the waters of the department and now he has this opportunity with this particular command in East New York to help elevate someone to the next level -- in this case being Amanda Warren's character, Regina Haywood -- and try to institute the type of policing where there's more of a community interaction," he said. "President Obama said it best to me, that these are guardians to protect and serve, not warriors. So it’s looking at law enforcement from maybe a little bit of a different lens."
As for how Warren would describe East New York? "Groundbreaking, nuanced, bold and... truth from the core."
East New York premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.