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.