If you think television has educated you in what prosecutors do, get ready for the real deal.
Shows from “Perry Mason” to “Law & Order” have delved into the work of lawyers, but “Brooklyn DA” — an unscripted series from the makers of “48 Hours” that premieres Tuesday, May 28, on CBS — offers a look at New York’s Kings County District Attorney’s Office, where 500 lawyers handle 1,000-plus cases weekly. Their targets range from corrupt judges to underworld kingpins, and this time, it isn’t the stuff of fiction.
“We had done some [’48 Hours’] shows with the Brooklyn DA’s office,” CBS News veteran Susan Zirinsky, senior executive producer of both programs, tells Zap2it. “Patti Aronofsky is the producer who came to me with this idea, and we were just kind of brainstorming about limited-run series when she proposed ‘Brooklyn DA.’
“They’re very unique human beings in that office. It is the largest urban DA’s office in the country, so we got together with these people we already knew and had a discussion. And we said that what would really be interesting would be to focus on these career attorneys and the cases they have.”
Despite that premise, Zirinsky maintains “Brooklyn DA” is “not a reality show. This is much more a documentary about career DA’s, who they are and what drives them. And the kinds of cases they have. We were very sensitive to covering cases that are in various stages of adjudication. Obviously, we would do nothing to jeopardize a case … as we don’t on “48 Hours.’ “
That might be fine with legal professionals used to dealing with television producers, but it can differ for defendants whose cases are actively in play.
“We approach people and ask them if they’re willing to work with us,” explains Zirinsky, who was the model for Holly Hunter’s character in the 1987 movie “Broadcast News.” “Some of the perps obviously are in stages of arrest, but our beat is law and justice. This is what we do. And there are some amazing cases here, with some profound legal implications.”