Robert Downey Jr. is producing a cop drama series for Apple TV+ with Showtime’s Billions writer Adam Perlman. The still-untitled show will take pages off the column of journalist Michael Lista in Toronto Life, who followed a real-life botched sting operation.
The Marvel star won’t be cast as the cop, but he will be part of the series in a supporting role, according to reports. Robert Downey Jr.’s biggest participation in the cop drama is as executive producer along with his wife, Susan Downey, and the rest of Team Downey, including Perlman.
Perlman’s other writing credits include The Good Wife and The Newsroom. He became the executive producer for Showtime’s critically-acclaimed drama after developing its story for four seasons.
Team Downey’s TV ventures
This cop drama is the latest TV project for Team Downey. The actor’s production house also recently received a second season renewal for their Perry Mason revival, which airs on HBO.
Downey Jr. was originally on board to lead this series but decided to step back and wear his producer hat while casting Matthew Rhys in the titular role. The decision still paid off because HBO decided to give Perry Mason another run.
On Apple TV+, Team Downey joins other high-profile productions in delivering new programs. Apple TV+ has Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon’s The Morning Show, Will Smith’s Emancipation, Tom Hanks’ Greyhound, and a still-untitled series from Leonardo DiCaprio.
Cop dramas in today’s TV landscape
Meanwhile, Lista’s series of articles, titled The Sting, follows the true story of a Canadian detective who goes undercover to solve a cold case. The cop’s involvement, however, turns the case into an elaborate sting that becomes brutally out of control.
It comes as the TV landscape is changing amid criticisms against law enforcement portrayal in cop dramas in light of the Black Lives Matter protests. Television portrays the police as the “beacons of morality,” while only showing some instances of misconduct or police brutality.
“People watch the shows to see heroes,” Warren Leight of Law & Order: SVU said. “You have the responsibility to at least depict the reality — as close to the reality as you can.”
Leight added that some TV shows use a flawed cop’s characterization to legitimize police brutality, and he finds this disturbing. In his cop series, Leight encourages his writers to bring diversity and fresh voices.
“This has to be a moment where people in power make themselves uncomfortable,” he said.
Robert Downey Jr.’s cop drama still does not have a production schedule. Casting will be underway once Perlman completes the script.
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