Tuned In: Donnie Wahlberg on his way to town for 'Kill Pit'
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Donnie Wahlberg starred as a detective in NBC's "Boomtown." His next role will be as a negotiator on the Spike series "Kill Pit," which begins production in Pittsburgh in March.
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PASADENA, Calif. -- Donnie Wahlberg, who starred in HBO's "Band of Brothers" and NBC's "Boomtown," has been added to the cast of Spike TV's Pittsburgh-set drama "The Kill Pit."
Director Steve Shill, a veteran of "The Wire," "Deadwood" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," will helm the first four episodes when the series begins production in Pittsburgh in mid-March.
Wahlberg, most recently seen in the short-lived CW drama "Runaway," will star opposite John Leguizamo, who plays an Iraq War veteran who stages a bank robbery in Downtown Pittsburgh. Wahlberg portrays the chief negotiator who tries to coax Leguizamo's character out of the hostage situation that ensues.
"My character is young and confident and a little quirky," Wahlberg said Tuesday afternoon before a session at the TV critics press tour for his upcoming A&E movie "Kings of South Beach." "He's got some obsessive-compulsive things. He's sort of this cocky negotiator and thinks this is going to be a textbook negotiation ... but what is about to unfold is much bigger than anyone can imagine. Suddenly this guy is going to be faced with the biggest challenge of his career. His quirks and idiosyncrasies become even more fun for me as an actor."Illustration by Tony Tye
and Curt Chandler, Post-Gazette
Click for larger image.
Wahlberg said he was drawn to "Kill Pit" by more than the script, because, he acknowledged, the concept is similar to other recent series.
"It's not the most unique subject matter, but it has the potential to turn into a 'Dog Day Afternoon'-type of thing. Hearing where the show is going after the pilot is very exciting. For me to be able to go toe-to-toe with John Leguizamo, with a good writer at the helm, it makes it a little irresistible."
"Kill Pit" writer James DeMonaco also wrote "Hate," a 2005 Showtime pilot that Wahlberg almost starred in. Wahlberg's second film, 1998's "Body Count," starred Leguizamo along with David Caruso, Ving Rhames, Forest Whitaker and Linda Fiorentino. Wahlberg said Leguizamo was one of the most influential actors he's ever worked with.
"Early on, I was just finding my way on movie sets and that was a lower budget movie with some issues in terms of logistics and filming and a young director. As the production ran into problems, I had all these expert actors to look to and all of them responded to problems in different ways," Wahlberg said. "John's response was to just keep working hard and stay in character and make his character the best it could be. I used that as my guideline. To me he's the best thing in that movie and you know why? Because he never stopped working."
"Kill Pit" won't be Wahlberg's first visit to Pittsburgh: He performed at what's now Mellon Arena when touring as part of New Kids on the Block. Though he'll be far from his wife, Kim, and two sons (ages 5 and 13) who live in the Los Angeles area, Wahlberg said the duration of the shoot is manageable.
"I like Pittsburgh, and I've been there in winter, too," he said, giving a knowing smile for the city's typical winters. "It's only eight [episodes]. I've been gone longer. It could be, like, one year in London for 'Band of Brothers.' It's not that big a deal."
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First Published January 11, 2007 12:00 am