Scoop: Maria Bello Closing In On Prime Suspect

The case of who’ll headline the U.S. reboot of the English-accented Prime Suspect is almost closed.

Sources confirm that Maria Bello (Law & Order: SVU) is in final negotiations to star as Det. Jane Tennison in the NBC version. Helen Mirren played the no-nonsense sleuth to massive acclaim (and a boatload of Emmys) in the U.K. original, so it goes without saying that Bello has extra-large shoes to fill.

Suspect has been in what Hollywood likes to call “development hell” for much of the past year. Originally slated as a 2010 midseason replacement series, the project was put on ice due, in part, to difficulties securing a leading lady. A new producing team led by Friday Night Lights‘ Peter Berg stepped in this fall and revived the pilot.

Thoughts? Does Bello have the chops to pull off Tennison?

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17 Comments
  1. Toby O'B says:

    They want to remake the show, fine. I have no problem with that. But does she have to be called Jane Tennyson? Can’t they show some originality by giving Bello’s character a new identity?

  2. Ryan says:

    Absolutely! I still remember her start on Mr & Mrs Smith with Scott Bakula, and being in ER Season 4. Great actress. See also ‘A History of Violence’.

  3. jimmy z says:

    My first hope was Connie Britton, but this gal has the ability to handle the world weariness of this role. She’s attractive, but a bit hard around the edges. Plus she’s a good actress. I think it will work. Lets see if the writing holds up to the UK version. Shows like this, it’s ALL about the writing.

    Now lets see Josh Holloway as Jim Rockford in the next remake.

  4. Rudi says:

    I’m not at all enthused by this. Prime Suspect is one of the most well-made crime serials of all time: taut writing, characters with faults, gritty and raw. Helen Mirren threw herself into the role of Tennison to an extent that most U.S. network bosses would never dare tread. I just can’t see how NBC would not dumb down this brilliant series – very, very sad.

  5. carolyn says:

    America is craving for quality television and here is yet another reboot of a superb British TV series. The BBC would make a lot of money by allowing American audiences to enjoy British TV. I am sure they must be thinking about it. Some series can be found on Amazon On Demand, and not too far behind the BBC releases. But we wait years for some series, such as MI-5 and Waking the Dead.

    NBC doesn’t do anything right. I am sure they will ruin this.

  6. Avery says:

    You’re kidding. I had my hopes up for Mary McDonnell, just because I’m a huge fan of hers and I think she’d do a great job, but that bias aside, Maria Bello is all wrong for the role. I really hope this falls through.

  7. dee123 says:

    Some shadows are just too big to step out from, as the San Francisco Chronicle said when reviewing the final Prime Suspect: “it’s the greatest role & performance of a female police detective, ever.” The pressure on this is going to be amazing.

  8. Erika Herzog says:

    Maria Bello is not the right casting for PRIME SUSPECT: USA. she’s too indie queen intensity. i would not want to see something like this with her in it — come on, i want to look forward to seeing whatever they make out of this remake, and sorry to a good actress but this doesn’t excite me at all.

    i think Mary McDonnell is going in the right direction but i would actually rather see someone who is maybe a bit more on the less known side, someone like Archie Punjab (lurve!)….?

    or to go in a completely opposite direction, how about Jodie Foster — she could do the tortured, messed up neurotic well, and has the whole SILENCE OF THE LAMBS FBI thing as a cultural background.

    i have grave misgivings whether (a) an American version is necessary and (b) if they could cast and execute this show well. we need someone really amazing with relationships who understands the complexity of adult connections. hmmm, SouthLAnd just had a stellar episode directed by Allison Anders….. please someone give her a show to run. that would work, yeah!

  9. miles silverberg says:

    Maria could do an OK job, but I still think Maura Tierney is the only real choice that fits Tennyson’s personality and mood swings.

  10. Marco says:

    I think Bello will be fine. As others have mentioned, she’s got HUGE shoes to fill and will be compared to Mirren at every step. I think she’ll pull it off though if… and this is a huge if… if the writing is up to snuff and they don’t make Tennison too sweet and likable, which is Hollywood’s preference. Mirren’s Tennison was complicated, flawed and sometimes difficult…and yet smart as a whip and better at her job than anyone else. She wasn’t always the easiest person to get along with, but she was a good cop. I’m hoping they stick to this archetype, and I think Bello will bring it.

  11. PF says:

    I was also hoping Mary McDonnell would be considered for this role. Very disappointed with this choice

  12. Amiee says:

    NOBODY had the chops to pull off Tennison except Tennison. As for the remake, I wouldn’t watch it even if they actually got Tennison as the star. There is no need to remake such an outstanding show and the lack of creativity in Hollywood right now is just awful.

  13. Marc says:

    I don’t get why NBC is doing this as a remake. The premise of the original is dated. Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison was a tough, no-nonsense squad leader, who faced tremendous sexism in the male-dominated police profession as one of the only female DCIs. The show went on to focus on controversial and sensitive issues while also showing Tennison’s personal issues and struggles with her superiors and subordinates, but the misogyny angle remained.

    Twenty years later, female squad and unit leaders are commonplace on television. Detroit 187 and Law & Order: UK both have female squad leaders. Law & Order had a woman leading the squad for it last 17 seasons, beginning in 1993. And, we have a show that presents an Americanized version of a successful female detective in a leadership role: The Closer.

    What is NBC going to do that ties this to the original Prime Suspect? No doubt, they can show the sexism of a woman in a largely male profession. But, it cannot be the same as it was 20 years ago any more than it would have made sense to remake Cagney & Lacey in 2002 as a show about some of the only female detectives. NBC really just wants to exploit the name for publicity, and it will backfire on them when the show pales in comparison to the original.

  14. Ambray says:

    C’mon, seriously, Maria Bello? The reason PRIME is so good is because Helen Mirren is distinguished and over 50. Over 60. Why can’t we have an over 50, distinguished American Actress? I want Mary McDonnell. She’s putting in cameos on The Closer with Kyra Sedgewick when she should be headlining her own show. Mary McDonnell dude. Weren’t you a fan of hers? You have a voice. Mention it. So Say We All!!!

  15. Sandy Dog says:

    I love the fact Maria Bello is getting her chance for a series.
    Please, I know this BBC series was great and Helen Mirren can do no wrong, but Maria Bello will be great. She has the stuff – smart, sexy and a great actress in her own right. She deserves a chance and thanks NBC for getting fresh new shows to replace L&O. The L&O series (original & SVU) have been on to long and I get tired of the lawyer aspect of the different series. The one L&O that was and still is great is L&O:CI with Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe. The show with lawyers are not in vogue.

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