Jimmy Smits LA Law to Memphis Law in NBC’s “Bluff City Law”

Still a hunk, Jimmy Smits as Elijah Strait in Bluff City Law– (Photo by Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

The new Monday night drama “Bluff City Law” has a face familiar in a courtroom,  Jimmy Smits, whose stardom was launched on “LA Law” in 1986. Now decades later, Smits is arguing cases in the refreshing Memphis locale that fuels NBC’s engaging legal show.

 The Emmy-winning Jimmy Smits is no stranger to law and order shows having won his award as LA Law‘s hot-shot lawyer on in the ’80s, and got a Golden Globe playing a true-blue cop on NYPD Blue in the ’90s. Smits also enjoyed a high profile role the last two seasons of The West Wing and became President of the United States in the finale.

 Now the Brooklyn-born, passionate Puerto Rican has set his sights higher for his new series Bluff City Law. Smits wants to change the world, pursue justice and fairness, as well as mend family problems with his daughter.

“Bluff City Law”  stars Caitlin McGee, Jimmy Smits (Photo by Katherine Bomboy/NBC)

 The character-driven legal drama set and filmed in Memphis, Tennessee, follows a family known for taking on injustice. Elijah Strait (Jimmy Smits) heads an elite law firm known for their landmark civil rights cases. His idealistic lawyer/daughter Sydney (Caitlin McGee) used to work there until their lock-horns relationship got in the way. Hoping to reconnect with his daughter after her mother’s passing, Elijah asks Sydney to rejoin his firm. Despite her lingering resentments, she knows that working alongside her father is her best chance at changing the world. Focusing on compelling and controversial issues, they take on the toughest David-and-Goliath cases while struggling with their complicated relationship.

 Smits was at the Television Critics Association’s Summer 2019 press tour. Still a hunk at age 64, he noted that his new character doesn’t have the same “kind of bounce” that his Victor Sifuentes had in LA Law. Smits said that was “years ago, but you try to take the best from the experiences that you had. This guy I’m doing now is a lot different. The pilot script was a wonderful jump-off point for all these characters and this relationship. And luckily in Memphis we had some great technical people, attorneys that were able to work with us, and a particular duo that have the same type of father-daughter relationship. You’re always being like a sponge wherever you are, you’re taking in Memphis, and you’re taking in these relationships, and trying to use the best of all of that.”

 Some cases will be very human stories, dipping into the culture of Memphis, which is incredibly rich. Smits explained, “It was important to have great fodder for storylines. We want the audience to take a ride with us, to be engaged with the relationships and dilemmas that happen to be in this legal arena. The great thing about the law is that you’re able to present two different points of view.”

Smits noted, “I like the one-two punch that a good drama can give, and that’s what these guys (the production team) give on a weekly basis. Sometimes we strive to find the humor in perhaps what might be considered a sad, dark situation.”

MaameYaa Boafo, Barry Sloane, Caitlin McGee, Jimmy Smits, Michael Luwoye, Jayne Atkinson, Stony Blyden. (Photo by Paul Trantow/NBC

 In addition to Smits and McGee, Bluff City Law also stars Barry Sloane, Michael Luwoye, MaameYaa Boafo, Stony Blyden, Jayne Atkinson and Josh Kelly. The series is produced by Universal Television in association with David Janollari Entertainment. Janollari, and co-creators Michael Aguliar and Dean Georgaris are executive producers. The show will approach current events affecting the country, but writer Greogaris said they won’t have stories “ripped from the headlines.” Instead, he reported the first ten episodes will touch on topics such as free speech, wrongful imprisonment, the opioid crisis, insurance companies, and immigration.

Regarding his old gig on NYPD Blue, Smits shared his thoughts on the reboot that’s in the works at ABC. Smits said, “They shot the pilot and I think it’s great. I mean, I’m down with it. I can’t wait. I got pictures from the guys, and they said, ‘Wish you were here, but you’re dead.’ I was like, really? That’s okay. Anything that’s an ode to my dear (Steven) Bochco and “Lord” (David) Milch (the creators/producers of NYPD Blue), you know, I’m down with it.”

 The compelling series TheBluff City Law premiers September 23 and airs at 10 pm Monday nights on NBC. Tune in.

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.