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Casting Coup: Maria Bello Lands Helen Mirren Role in NBC's Prime Suspect Remake

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 17, 2011 at 12:22AM

After a rigorous search for the right actress to play the lead detective originated by Helen Mirren in NBC's remake of the hit Brit series, Prime Suspect, Universal Media Studios and the team behind Friday Night Lights has hired veteran dramatic actress Maria Bello (The Cooler, A History of Violence, The Company Men), reports Variety. Bello is great casting: a smart, versatile, athletic actress, she has the authority to pull this off. This is a juicy sought-after role.
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Thompson on Hollywood

After a rigorous search for the right actress to play the lead detective originated by Helen Mirren in NBC's remake of the hit Brit series, Prime Suspect, Universal Media Studios and the team behind Friday Night Lights has hired veteran dramatic actress Maria Bello (The Cooler, A History of Violence, The Company Men), reports Variety. Bello is great casting: a smart, versatile, athletic actress, she has the authority to pull this off. This is a juicy sought-after role.

Executive producer Alexandra Cunningham's script has Bello playing a lead detective in a male-dominated New York City precinct. Aren't they all? In the original series, hard-drinking detective Tennyson struggled to manage the unruly men under her command. She earned their respect partly by being smarter and working harder and longer hours than anyone else, which put a strain on her marriage.

Cunninghan will exec produce with Friday Night Lights' Sarah Aubrey and Peter Berg (The Kingdom), who will also direct the pilot. With this group, I'm optimistic that this could turn out all right--even though TV is up to its ears in police procedurals, many of them starring women, from The Closer to Saving Grace and Mary McCormack-starrer In Plain Sight. In fact, these femme-dominated cable shows have proved robust audience-pullers for the female demo, as network's Cagney and Lacey was in its day.

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