What Fox Had to Change About ‘LA’s Finest’ to Make Spectrum Original Broadcast-Friendly

And why showrunners Brandon Margolis and Brandon Sonnier aren’t worried about spoilers

Last Updated: September 21, 2020 @ 10:05 AM

The first season of “L.A.’s Finest” premieres Monday on Fox, more than two years after the now-Spectrum Originals drama’s pilot was passed on at NBC. And when the Gabrielle Union- and Jessica Alba-led police procedural finally makes its way to broadcast, it will, of course, be a broadcast-friendly version of the series.

So how much will Fox viewers be missing out on if they’re tuning in to Season 1 tonight versus streaming the original cut on the Charter Communications-owned platform? The answer here actually has more to do with run time issues versus inappropriate content.

“There were [changes that had to be made], but really that was one of the things I looked at strongly was it did have that broadcast sensibility at its core,” Dan Harrison, Fox’s EVP of program planning and content strategy, told TheWrap. “So yes, there are some Standards and Practices notes, but this is not bringing ‘The Sopranos’ to A&E, to basic cable, where they really had to edit that show substantially. This did not require that kind of work. It did require some, it is not running as is, but it didn’t require a lot.”

“L.A.’s Finest” is a TV spinoff of Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Bad Boys” film franchise, following LAPD detectives Syd Burnett (Union) and Nancy McKenna (Alba). After leaving her complicated past taking down a drug cartel in Miami behind, Syd joins the LAPD and is paired with a new partner, Nancy McKenna (Jessica Alba), a working mom with her own complex history.

“Fox has been great about keeping the spirit of our content the same,” “L.A. Finest” co-showrunner Brandon Margolis told TheWrap. “Obviously there’s language freedoms that we have on Spectrum that we have to avoid on Fox. And there’s the run time differential. But other than that there really have been no creative or storytelling restrictions that Fox has put on us, other than obviously making us broadcast-friendly in terms of language and skin and violence and all the things you’d expect.”

Margolis added: “The biggest difference, if you were to hold the cuts up side by side, is that the Spectrum episodes will sort of feel like they’re a director’s cut of a movie where there is additional footage that didn’t make the official print, if you will. So the run times of the average Spectrum episode are anywhere between 45 minutes and 52 minutes versus Fox where we have to have it just under 43. So it really would feel like an extended experience with a couple of swear words thrown in for fun.”

Now, if you’re wondering what Fox might have changed about the Sony Television-pictures produced show in amid the resurgence of Black Lives Matter protests and criticisms of depictions of police on TV, Harrison says the network was “certainly sensitive” to that issue, but approved of its message.

“Given the talent that’s involved, and that both Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba are executive producers, and what we saw in the show, we felt like this is appropriate entertainment for the time and it doesn’t cross those lines in a way that makes it something that we’re airing that is contributing in a negative way to the dialogue,” he told TheWrap.

According to “L.A.’s Finest” co-showrunner Brandon Sonnier, he and Margolis feel “a huge sense of responsibility” in writing a police procedural, “but with that, a huge sense of pride in what we have put together and showing two women of color as, yes, they are police officers that play by their own rules sometimes, but we are still very cognizant that those rules live in a world where we aren’t over-policing people of color on the show.”

“I’ve been Black the whole time, that is to say we’ve had an eye on this since the beginning and done our best to tell the story the way it should be told,” Sonnier said. “And yes, we live in a fantasy world and it is a heightened Jerry Bruckheimer reality of policing. But we do try to be aware of the actual realities of policing and the damage that can be done by the images that we put out. It’s something that we have on our minds and certainly have on our minds more now than even before.”

The second season of “L.A.’s Finest” launched on Spectrum Originals Sept. 9, meaning that two entire years of the show are available right now for streaming via its home platform. If that makes you non-Spectrum customers at all concerned about having future plot points spoiled for you while you’re just getting into Season 1, Sonnier wants to put your mind at ease here.

“We have built a show that lives in the Jerry Bruckheimer universe. And not necessarily the Jerry Bruckheimer television universe, it feels more like the Jerry Bruckheimer film universe because we were born of the ‘Bad Boys’ movies,” Sonnier said. “So even if someone has spoiled a scene for you or told you what’s going to happen, I would wager that they would also say, ‘but you’ve got to see it.’ That’s the part of it that makes it a little safer is just being the show that we are and with the scale that we have made the show, even if someone tells you what happens, you’re going to want to see if for yourself.”

“L.A.’s Finest” Season 1 premieres Monday at 8/7c on Fox. Seasons 1 and 2 of the series are streaming now on Spectrum Originals.