Pilot Scoop: Ben McKenzie Snags Lead in CBS' Advocates – What Does this Mean for Southland?

Ben McKenzie CBS Pilot The Advocates In a move that will no doubt raise questions about the future of Southland, Ben McKenzie has landed the co-lead in CBS’ drama pilot The Advocates, TVLine has learned.

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The potential series, from Mentalist creator Bruno Heller, centers on the relationship between a female lawyer and a male ex-con (McKenzie), who team up as “victim advocates,” going to the very edge of the law to right wrongs and fight for the underdog.

McKenzie’s character, the quietly determined Henry Bird, is freed after being unjustly imprisoned for 16 years.

The cast also includes The Shield‘s CCH Pounder and NYPD Blue‘s Esai Morales.

Although the gig is technically in second position to Southland, the fact that Warner Bros. (which produces both shows) appears willing to roll the dice on McKenzie suggests there’s a reasonable chance the death-defying TNT cop drama won’t see a sixth season.

Of course, it’s also possible the show could continue on without McKenzie’s character, Officer Sherman. (He wouldn’t be the first Southland cop to die in the line of duty.)

“I’m honored to be a part of the best cop show on TV (IMHO),” McKenzie tweeted late Tuesday after news broke of his Advocates casting. “I hope and pray it returns. Nothing would make me happier.”

Southland is currently three episodes into its fifth season.

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  1. I mean, the fact that Southland lived to see five seasons is beyond amazing, and I’m thankful TNT saved it. But I really don’t want it to end. :(

  2. He doesn’t look old enough to have been in jail for 16 years!

    • jane says:

      He’s 34, so if his character is the same age and If he was in jail for 16 years, it meant he got convicted right at 18, the legal adult age. Quite reasonable.

  3. Doesn’t sound all that interesting….maybe he should keep the Southland job for now.

    • Saint Alicia says:

      Agreed, also sounds a lot like “Life” (which was shamefully under-appreciated) but probably won’t be nearly as good.

    • Johanna says:

      He already said he was going to do both shows so I don’t see what everybody’s problem is.

    • Jen says:

      I wanted to add that McKenzie is the kind of guy that is very picky with the roles he plays so if he agrees to do the show, I’m not worried about the show being unoriginal. He wouldn’t sign onto a show that wasn’t in some way… different. I have faith in his judgment.

  4. alieh86 says:

    He’ll always be Atwood… *hehehe*
    But that’s cool, because The OC was my first true TV obsession

  5. Amanda says:

    While I’m happy Ben is getting work, I love Southland too much to see it get cancelled. It’s one of the best dramas on right now, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a sixth season…with Ben Sherman.

  6. Kay says:

    Ben playing an ex-con……. Sounds familiar. Count me in!

  7. How's Annie says:

    A brainless crime procedural on See BS? How fresh!

    • Johanna says:

      The description (after reading 3 articles about this new show) does not sound like a crime procedural. It sounds like the bulk of the story is a developing romance between the two lead characters (which always does well in TV shows) and since it’s from the creator of The Mentalist, I’m willing to bet the female lead will be quirky and balance out Ben’s character’s dark side/broodiness and the show will be different than others. Also, you have no grounds from which you can say the new show is brainless because you’ve never seen it.

  8. The show doesn’t just center around him and frankly he has become less and less likeable over the last 2 seasons. He will get killed in the line of duty probably on the finale.

    • Teeny says:

      I agree, I hate the direction they have taken his character. I don’t see Ben Sherman long for this world.

      • reading says:

        We haven’t been fans of the writing, or lack of writing, for his character since NBC days when the original creators were involved. As an actor, he can only work with what he’s given and inconsistent, disconnected, ungrounded and confusing are just a few of the words I’ve heard tossed around. It’s too bad, with so much potential. Whatever happens, I hope it works out for the best.

        • Matt S. says:

          We? Speak for yourself season 5 IMHO has so far been the best season yet writing included!

          • ramble says:

            Before you jump to conclusions, maybe it’s someone speaking on behalf of a couple or family, so don’t be so quick to criticize someone stating an opinion. I have to say I’ve heard similar reactions from people I recruited to watch the show who have given up because of the lack of character development and writing style. Not for them, and that’s anyone’s prerogative.

        • Bill says:

          Oh please. Typical Ben fangirl. Poor Ben. If every episode doesn’t revolve around him, they’re not happy.

  9. jimbo says:

    From juvie to police officer to ex-con. Impressive career. ;)

  10. LOLOL says:

    God, He’s so hot. I wanna have his babies.

  11. Tran says:

    I don’t want to see Southland end after five seasons and the series still has high hopes for TNT. After Season Five is done, TNT better renewed it for a sixth season and Southland is here to stay, always. :-)

  12. Ali says:

    The lawyer and the excon sounds like boring drivel and I love Heller for writing Rome. This just sounds like all the other shows out there. Heller should find a way to bring Rome back weekly. That would be a worthy endeavor. This other show…not so much. As for McKenzie, he’s too young to play someone in the slammer for 16 years. Duh.

  13. jo says:

    They had a show like this a few years ago ….

  14. tara says:

    Freaking love Southland. How this show is so under appreciated is completely beyond me. Season 6! And if Sherman dies….eeek.

  15. Quinn Mallory says:

    So this is kind of like Life but with a less quirky lead?

  16. Melody Paris says:

    Why choose when he could do both. There are several actors that work on more than one show, like Coby Bell, Ben Schwartz, and Alison Brie!

    • alex says:

      With only a handful of episodes of Southland, usually 10, and Warner Bros. producing both, it wouldn’t be out of the question, as long as the new show didn’t have 20 or so. 15 and 10 would be doable, at least for a season, although it would mean no time for anything else.

      We think Ben’s tremendous and incredibly underrated. We watch Southland because of him, so no Ben, no Southland for us. We’d watch his new show in a heartbeat if that’s how the chips fall. He could easily carry a show as a lead, so I hope he gets the chance to be challenged in a good leading role with a compelling character to develop, whether it’s this one or not.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      Plus its an ensemble show so he probably is not needed on Southland’s set every single day.

  17. cookie says:

    Maybe the writers should shorten it to 10 years in prison, that would be better. I love,love Southland, I just wish they had more high profiled badassed actors.

  18. cookie says:

    Like John Lithgow as a crazy person. He plays crazy great!!!

  19. ken says:

    I love southland, for me its one of the best shows on tv by far. I cant beleive its ratings are so low, if people would just tune in once im sure they would keep it up. I would hate see ben leave, but the show could carry on without him. When the show was on nbc he was the focus of the show, but thats not the case anymore, i dobt think he gets anymore screen time than the other people.

  20. Whateva says:

    I’m so happy for him! He’s awesome and really should be getting the big breaks.

    • rhodez says:

      I say good for you Ben. If there’s a promising opportunity, take it. It will ultimately be a network decision because of his contract, unless that has to be renegotiated, often the case for shows after 5 years. That’s also why many shows have a 5-year limit. I love watching Ben on Southland, but I’m not really a fan of the choppy writing and how little’s been done with his character. Very random and disconnected. On a network show in a good time slot with the writing, enough episodes to develop things and an interesting character to work with, Ben could have chances for many more roles.

      Our family only watches Ben on Southland anyway, so either way, if this gets picked up by CBS and Southland is no go, it would be a win-win. Seeing Ben in about twice as many episodes would be a bonus, especially on something higher profile.

  21. Pattybelle says:

    Female lawyer and a EX-con? Sounds like fringe all over again. the lawyer being all badass so her fans can brag about it while Ben plays the ex con who becomes unlikeable do to him being an ex con. NO THANKS.

  22. sarah says:

    No new pilot has really grabbed my attention so far, however I love Ben and this sounds like it has potential!

  23. Chicago Dan says:

    It’s hard to believe in five seasons of Southland, it will only have produced 43 episodes. (S1 = 7, S2 = 6 and then three 10 ep seasons). Bless TNT for saving this unique, gritty drama. Hopefully it can continue regardless of McKenzie’s involvement.

  24. Johanna says:

    People on here don’t even know what Ben’s character on this new show will be like or what the show will be like and you’ve already counted it out just based off of a description. That’s foolish. Watch the freakin’ Pilot first, then make a decision.

  25. reading says:

    Ultimately, it’s a TNT call. I hope Ben has a compelling character to develop and a great opportunity on some show. Bottom line, I’d love to see him have more screen time and the perks that come with the support of a major network as a stepping stone for more projects and challenges. I say good for him. No matter what he’s working on, we’ll be watching him. That’s a no-brainer. At this point, I’d like to see him in something new with writers focusing on crafting a good character for him.

  26. ramble says:

    Love to see Ben get the chance for a good lead role. We’ll see how it all plays out, but we’ll be watching Ben whatever he’s working on. Here’s to all the best for him. Time for him to move beyond one of the most underrated actors.

  27. Chris says:

    CBS has a lot of good pilots if I had to pick I think there gonna pick up crazy ones friends with beter lives mom NCis red advocates and one of there new legal dramas

  28. jerry says:

    Southland is the best show on TV period. To heck with all of those other stupid cop shows that always solve the murder in one hour each week by the same good looking cop or reporter. What a fairy tale. Southland is REAL man. Should be on ABC or NBC.

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