One in a series of evenings and special screenings presented as part of The Paley Center for Media's Inside Media events. Held at the Paley Center in Los Angeles, this evening celebrates the pilot of “The Defenders,” the new CBS dramedy about two slick Las Vegas defense lawyers who go to extreme lengths to win their cases. Moderator Craig Tomashoff (executive editor, TV Guide magazine) offers opening remarks and then introduces the panelists: executive producers and creators Niels Mueller and Kevin Kennedy; executive producers Harry Gantz, Greg Walker and Carol Mendelsohn; and cast members Jerry O’Connell (Pete Kaczmarek) and James Belushi (Nick Morelli).

The conversation touches on such topics as: O’Connell’s recent experience with “a little” law school; his dislike of his professors and the high-stress environment; being told he “over-acted” in moot court; his attraction to “The Defenders” among many other legal-drama pilots; Belushi’s vast personal experience with attorneys; their wardrobe, in which they are still attired on the panel; the show’s roots in a documentary made by Gantz and his brother based on real-life Vegas lawyers Michael Cristalli and Marc Saggese; their extensive research in Las Vegas; Mendelsohn’s interest in the city and work on shows based there, including “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”; Walker’s involvement with the show; Belushi and O’Connell’s experience befriending Cristalli and Saggese; observing them in court; how they genuinely “believe in” their clients; the actors’ participation in a TV commercial for their real law firm; description of their characters and how Pete “always has some sort of angle”; Nick’s “obsession” and sadness over losing his wife, thanks to his long hours; the importance of finding “magic” and chemistry between the two actors; Belushi’s work ethic and the awkward tale of his on-screen kiss with O’Connell’s real-life wife, Rebecca Romijn; their banter and mischievous interactions; Belushi’s involvement with the Vegas House of Blues concert hall and restaurant, alongside Dan Aykroyd; inspiration for plotlines from Cristalli and Saggese’s real cases and how some are “too far out” to portray on television; their involvement with the murder case involving the casino-owning Binion family; how their office is like a “circus show” with many bizarre characters; upcoming “heartfelt” episodes; advice to Belushi from a real attorney; the “defense attorney’s greatest fear” of innocent clients going to jail; whether the Blues Brothers, the “Saturday Night Live”-based band started by Aykroydand Belushi’s brother John will guest-star on the show; the use of Frank Sinatra, Jr. as himself in the pilot and further plans for appearances of real-life Vegas celebrities; and whether there will be crossovers with any other CBS shows.

(For the details and synopsis of the episode screened after the panel, see ACCNUM 103901.)


  • DATE: September 10, 2010 6:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:29:49
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: 103923
  • GENRE: Seminars


    • Craig Tomashoff … Moderator
    • Niels Mueller … Panelist
    • Kevin Kennedy … Panelist
    • Harry Gantz … Panelist
    • Greg Walker … Panelist
    • Carol Mendelsohn … Panelist
    • Jerry O'Connell … Panelist
    • James Belushi … Panelist
    • Dan Aykroyd
    • John Belushi
    • Michael Cristalli
    • Rebecca Romijn
    • Marc Saggase
    • Frank Sinatra, Jr.