Jurnee Smollett Lands Lead Role In NBC Women's Prison Pilot "Bad Girls" Based On Award-Winning UK Series

Television
by Tambay A. Obenson
February 18, 2012 11:30 AM
12 Comments
  • |

With shooting on Tyler Perry's The Marriage Counselor likely complete by now, actress Jurnee Smollett has signed on to play the lead in a new NBC women's prison drama pilot titled Bad Girls - an adaptation of a UK series I first told you about last September when it was reported then that NBC had picked up rights to the program.

First to recap before talking about Smollett's role. 

I looked up the UK series the NBC pilot pilot will be based on and learned that the award-winning show ran from 1999 to 2006 on ITV, a network in the UK. Apparently you can find it on DVD in the US currently - although it doesn't look like you'll find every single season.

Another thing I discovered is that the UK series had quite a few black actors and actresses in its cast - most notably, Colin Salmon, a name that's come up a number of times on this site. Salmon played a character named Rowan Dunlop, the prison's senior medical officer.

Other black actors in the series include Antonia Okonma who played one of the inmates, Darlene Cake, doing four years for smashing a girl in the face with a glass; Angela Bruce who played a character named Mandy Goodhue, one of the prison's officers; Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Crystal Gordon, doing 12 months for shoplifting and harboring escapees; and Kim Oliver as Buki Lester, doing 30 months for knifing her pimp,

There might be others I missed.

There are of course white cast members too, both inmates and prison staff. But we don't care about them :)

The series' website goes into a lot more detail about each character, and even features an interview with the actors playing each part. I just haven't had time to go through them all.

All this to say that I assume NBC's version will follow similar *mixed* casting - black and non-black inmates and prison staff, male and female - and maybe even follow the same characters and storylines.

Smollett will play a character named "Gwen," described as "a famous rap star who lives the high life on the local club scene until she gets busted by the DEA and finds herself tossed into a women’s prison without bail."

I read that, at one point, back in the early 2000s, HBO was developing a U.S. remake, though I don't believe anything came of that; and in 2006, FX was also planning on bringing an American version of Bad Girls to US TV screens. It doesn't look like either will happen now, with NBC taking a stab at it. I wonder if there are any connections between the 3, like maybe it started with HBO, moved to FX, and has now ended up on NBC, with the same creative team behind it each time.

But a prison drama on NBC? It'll have to be sanitized, which, I think, will kill its authenticity, and thus, its *edge*. I guess I'm thinking something gritty like Oz, which was on HBO.

Well... I'll take the old wait-and-see approach on this one.

No word on when we can expect to see this pilot episode... likely when fall season comes around. No other casting announced at this point.

Television
  • |

More: Television

You might also like:
Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

12 Comments

  • Heather Heaton | July 21, 2012 12:23 AMReply

    Heather Heaton's "Women-in-Prison Short Stories" is a series of short stories (one or more per ebook) about real women inmates and their real crimes, experiences in prison, and impact on the author while she was an inmate in the same women's prison. When you make friends in prison, you don't want to know the crime. It just changes your perspective entirely; and you certainly don't want to make enemies in prison.

    Each ebook in the series introduces one or more inmates through the interaction between the inmate(s) and the author. Specifics about the prison environment, events, and other personal revelations are described. Talk about reality TV; these short stories take you inside the prison world for real and for true.

    You can find "Women-in-Prison Short Stories" by visiting Heather Heaton's author pages on Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/author/heatherheaton) and/or Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/heatherdh).

  • Dawn | February 21, 2012 2:52 PMReply

    Filming begins in LA in March.

    And YAY!!! I'm a fan of the original version. I know the US remake will not be near as good, but it can't hurt for them to try. After all, they owned Queer as Folk when they brought it from the UK.

  • Dawn | February 21, 2012 2:50 PMReply

    Filming begins in LA in March.

    And YAY!!! I'm a fan of the original version. I know the US remake will not be near as good, but it can't hurt for them to try. After all, they owned Queer as Folk when they brought it from the UK.

  • Whitney | February 19, 2012 7:37 PMReply

    Good for her. I still she has ties with NBC. She was cool on "Friday Night Lights."

  • ska-triumph | February 18, 2012 10:14 PMReply

    All right! That made me that much more interested in the script. Good she's able to stay engaged with TV.

  • ska-triumph | February 18, 2012 10:16 PM

    And isn't she going by Jurnee Smollet-BELL now...?

  • Miles Ellison | February 18, 2012 9:47 PMReply

    This might get canceled faster than The Playboy Club did.

  • Monique | February 18, 2012 4:36 PMReply

    Yay for Jurnee! I wish her all the best of success with this show!

  • greg starnes | February 18, 2012 4:01 PMReply

    Hey, Tambay! I heard what happened at the Pan-African Film Festival when David Oyelowo confronted you before the screening for "The Undershepherd" about the recent "Why Red Tails Failed to Soar" article, Vanessa Martinez's articles, and other Shadow and Act articles! Heard he really lit into you and made you 30 minutes late for the screening! One thing you have to learn in life... If you write about it, you have to be able to back it up if you're called to the carpet on it.

  • greg starnes | February 18, 2012 3:59 PMReply

    Hey, Tambay! I heard what happened at the Pan-African Film Festival when David Oyelowo confronted you before the screening for "The Undershepherd" about this article, Vanessa Martinez's articles, and other Shadow and Act articles! Heard he really lit into you and made
    you 30 minutes late for the screening! One thing you have to learn in life... If you write about it, you have to be able to back it up if you're called to the carpet on it.

  • Justin D. | February 18, 2012 2:14 PMReply

    She's so fine. Good luck to her.

  • blaqbird | February 18, 2012 1:12 PMReply

    YAY! Love her! So excited about her success!!!!!!

Follow Shadow and Act

Email Updates

Most "Liked"

  • Taraji P. Henson Drama 'From The Rough' ...
  • Electro (Jamie Foxx) Faces Off Against ...
  • Watch Omar Sy In Action As Bishop In ...
  • Black Movie Trivia - Congrats to our ...
  • Interview: Chatting with RZA About Paul ...
  • Sidney Poitier Made Oscar History Today ...
  • Critically-Acclaimed Doc 'The Trials ...
  • Weekend B.O. April 11-13 (Close, But ...
  • GLAAD Awards Honors Jennifer Lopez-Produced ...
  • A Look At Seattle International Film ...