Get ready for a new Shondaland series! For the People TV drama follows six talented young lawyers working on opposite sides of the law and handling the most high-profile and high-stakes federal cases in the country. While in LA two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to screen the new series, and interview some of the cast and show creators. Check out today’s post for details on what I believe will be a new hit show!
I was invited as media to cover this event. All opinions are my own.
For the People TV Series
Set in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (a.k.a. “The Mother Court”), these lawyers will be put to the test both personally and professionally as their lives intersect in and out of America’s most prestigious trial court.
“For The People” stars Britt Robertson as Sandra Bell, Jasmin Savoy Brown as Allison Adams, Ben Rappaport as Seth Oliver, Susannah Flood as Kate Littlejohn, Wesam Keesh as Jay Simmons, Regé-Jean Page as Leonard Knox, Ben Shenkman as Roger Gunn, Hope Davis as Jill Carlan, Vondie Curtis-Hall as Judge Nicholas Byrne and Anna Deavere Smith as Tina Krissman.
Shonda Rhimes is the mastermind behind Grey’s, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder.
For the People Interview
We asked Paul William Davies, the creator, and exec producer of the new series, what sparked the idea for this new show. Paul shared, “I brought this idea to Shonda. I thought a show set in [the Mother] court with the kinds of cases that come out of that court and the lawyers that work in that court could be really interesting. I also wanted to do something that showed the perspective of both sides. And not like in a formulaic way but just kind of in a way that you got a richer sense of how the law works and how justice is made in America. And so I thought having that dual perspective could be an interesting new way to approach a legal show. ”
Paul William Davies speaks from experience. He’s a lawyer and has been to the Mother Court, sharing, “I worked for a large law firm, I didn’t do the kind of noble work that these people do. But I do have a background in the law and some of my friends that I went to law school with are actually consultants on the show. And so I’ve been able to draw off both from my own experience and then people that I’ve worked with and went to law school with.”
I asked if any of the talent had previous law experience, or what they did to prepare for their roles. Wesam Keesh mentioned, “I actually did shadow a public defender at the L.A. courthouse and that was an amazing experience, just what the public defenders have to deal with within a few hours, from like a bicycle theft case to a sexual assault case to somebody showing up for their prison sentence, to a juvenile trying to not get jail time. So they have to deal with a lot and yeah it was very eye-opening, there’s a lot of dark humor behind the scenes which, you know, plays into it.”
The cast spoke highly of fellow actress, Susannah Flood, who they call their “library.” Jasmin Savoy Brown added, “she’s great with research and understanding the law and helping educate the rest of the cast. But like Wesam, I also have a public defender that I Skype with who’s in New York and that’s invaluable.”
Rege-Jean Page shared, “I went to court in Compton, which is an experience. I didn’t know before I started working this that everyone has the right to go and just watch justice be done. You can turn up and watch a case with very-very few exceptions which is incredible because it is so important for justice not just to be done but to be seen to be done.” Adding, “just kind of being in a courthouse environment and feeling people work at an incredibly high level, with people’s lives in their hands every single day is an extraordinary thing and something you kind of need to feel palpable before you can kind of take it on….seeing people work in that kind of rhythm is both inspiring and a responsibility because you then have to represent that in its best light. So maybe if we do this right we can go to in some ways kind of rehabilitating lawyers as people who run what is possibly the most important institution in this country, the justice system.”
Paul also mentioned, “Shondaland is a big tent and there are certain themes that underlie a lot of what comes out of Shondaland. I think this show will be a bit more grounded and I think that’s just more what I set out to do. And I think what fits the show better, and I think it will be relevant, it’s not a ripped from the headlines show, but it is definitely going to have real world relevance and a lot of the stuff that we do in the first season are real topics in law today. And I think people recognize and hopefully appreciate that.”
When speaking about the intensity of the pilot, Rege shared, “Sometimes the world is a little bit dark and you need protection from that and you need people to kind of be torch bearers in that world on both sides, in the prosecution and the defense. And so there are times when yeah the weight of the thing can get very-very intense, but I also think that’s one of the gifts that this team has is in managing that tone and presenting the real world in its lightness and its darkness as a complete package that you can digest and take on and grow from.”
Susannah added, “I think the bravado of all of these characters in the first thirty minutes of the show is really true and appropriate to the actual lawyers in the Southern District. They’re all very like they’re very New York in that way, they’re like Wolf of Wall Street in that way. They’re fronting with this kind of ambition that derives from a passion for principle. They’re all civil servants, they’re not getting paid that much money, they’re only in their jobs because of the principle of being in the job. ”
The cast was kind enough to stick around for pictures with all of us. It was such a nice chat! And like I said at the beginning – I believe the For the People TV series will be a huge hit!
Make sure you tune in tonight at 10/9 C for the premiere!
Check out the For the People TV trailer below: