With the gritty cop drama "Southland," Ben McKenzie was able to put "O.C." bad boy Ryan Atwood behind him, tackling edgier story lines as rookie cop Ben Sherman.
But soon after the first season aired, "Southland" was canceled by NBC to make room for Jay Leno's now-defunct prime-time talk show. Now that TNT has welcomed "Southland" with open arms, McKenzie isn't feeling too bad about NBC's failed experiment.
"Well, they went with Leno at 10 o'clock. I'm not sure how it worked out. From what I hear, apparently he won't be on at 10 anymore," McKenzie told MTV News when he stopped by to promote the TNT premiere of "Southland" on Tuesday (January 12). "And NBC is now in need of high-quality scripted dramas. I wish we could help them out, but we are now on TNT, so everything works out for a reason, I guess."
McKenzie said his hard feelings are directed at the network, not Leno. "It's nothing personal with Jay Leno," he said. "It was a bit aggressive to put him on every night of the week at 10 o'clock, and it cost a lot of writers and actors and crew members their jobs, which I think is a bad thing for the creative community in general. ... For what — a talk show?
"I think that I'm glad it failed — not personally against Jay, but just in general," he continued. "I'm glad it failed, and it'll be interesting to see what NBC comes up with. But that's not our problem. We're excited about being on TNT, and we're excited to finally make the show we always wanted to make, and it's a cool thing. You don't get a lot of second opportunities in life."
The actor promises that with a new network there to support the show, it is bound to really step up its game and find a new audience, as well as bring along the original fans.
"We're excited about TNT," McKenzie said. "I think it actually will work out better, because now that we're on cable, we can make the show that we want to make, and we don't have to censor ourselves as much. ... We can really delve into some darker, edgier stuff. If you thought it was edgy then, it will be more so. We're trying to do a realistic cop show like you're watching an episode of 'Cops.' We don't try to soften it too much."