PREVIEW: CBS cop drama ‘East New York’ created by Atlantan Mike Flynn

Credit: CBS

Credit: CBS

It debuts Oct. 2 after ‘The Equalizer.’

Mike Flynn, who grew up in Atlanta, has co-created a new police procedural for CBS called “East New York.”

It is debuting Sunday, Oct. 2 at 9:30 p.m. after “The Equalizer” and starring Queen Latifah. (NFL football has pushed back the schedule about 30 minutes.)

Amanda Warren (”The Leftovers,” “Dickinson”) plays the smart, confident but weary Regina Haywood, the new precinct officer in East New York, a gritty blue-collar Brooklyn neighborhood that has yet to be gentrified and has its fair share of crime and poverty issues.

Haywood’s boss is Chief John Suarez, portrayed with studied gravitas by “NYPD Blue” vet Jimmy Smits, who grew up in East New York. Her right-hand man is character actor Richard Kind (”Mad About You”), who channels his own naturally quirky persona with a deep love of classic cars.

She faces standard skepticism as she experiments with different ways to better interact with alleged criminals and the community at large. She excoriates a pair of detectives for resisting a suspect’s request for an attorney. She seeks volunteers for cops to live rent free in the projects (and a young white female cop takes her up on the offer.)

Effectively, Flynn said, she sees everything through the lens of a Black woman in a world dominated by men.

Recently, John Oliver on his weekly HBO show did a long story arguing how “Law & Order” and its spinoffs made cops look good in a way that was potentially more propagandistic than realistic. “East New York” is well aware of that murky minefield.

The police drama was first conceived in 2019 before the George Floyd protests and the concurrent reckoning about police treatment of Black people. “We want to be sure we are telling the right stories and reflect what was happening in our country,” Flynn said.

He plans to tell more stories of criminals and victims who are Black and brown, to show how they are treated by media and cops alike compared to those who live, say, in the ritzy Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Variety magazine TV critic Daniel D’Addario said the show, based on the pilot, is “relatively careful in its presentation of cops and policing as flawed tools in need of rethinking, and boasts a charismatic lead who can make you believe, for an hour of primetime, that such change might be possible.”

Credit: CBS

Credit: CBS

Flynn, 40, grew up in College Park, home to an unusually high number of famous folks like NFL player Cam Newton, songwriter and reality star Kandi Burruss, “Saturday Night Live” staple Kenan Thompson and rap stars Ludacris, Gunna and 2 Chainz. Flynn graduated West Lake High School, where he was both a jock in public and a short story writer in private.

“I was always an observant person,” he said. “I like to study personalities and egos and that’s how I look at the world. I build characters based on individuals I’ve crossed paths with.”

After majoring in film studies at San Diego State, he ventured to Hollywood and climbed the ladder, starting as a production assistant and eventually landing a writing assistant job on the short-lived ABC drama “Life in Mars” (2008-09) that got him his first episodic writing credit.

He kept writing and networking, landing writing jobs with OWN’s “Greenleaf,” shot in Atlanta, and “Queen Sugar.” With ABC’s “Big Sky” and Starz’ “Power Book III: Raising Kanan,” he also added executive producing duties. This all set the stage for “East New York.”

“I feel like I stepped into head coach of an NFL team,” Flynn said. “It’s very refreshing to get to this point. It’s been a big learning curve. It’s a lot of pressure. But it’s good pressure.”

“East New York” is also a sign how far CBS has come in terms of diversity in recent years after being dubbed “the whitest network on TV” not too long ago. Sunday night on CBS this fall features major leads of color in every show, including Queen Latifah on “The Equalizer” and LL Cool J on “NCIS: Los Angeles.”

“That’s big in terms of what CBS respecting what we can do as artists,” Flynn said.

IF YOU WATCH

“East New York,” debuts at 9:30 p.m. Sunday on CBS after “The Equalizer” and will be available the next day on Paramount+