DETROIT 187 Set Visit and Erin Cummings Video Interview

     December 29, 2010

Police procedural dramas usually aren’t my thing. I generally don’t see the appeal of that genre, but ABC’s Detroit 187 caught me by surprise. The show has a levity to it that is earnest about its setting and the current age we live in. Jokes about cell phones or the difficulty in finding a specific gun shell at a high-traffic bridge lighten the mood and keep the stories interesting. Add a veteran cast, including The Sopranos star Michael Imperioli and NYPD Blue’s James McDaniel, mixed with relative newcomers, and give them interesting storylines to work off of and you have a nice lure. When I got the opportunity to fly out to Detroit and do on-set interviews with the cast and crew, I eagerly accepted. Over the next several days we will have a new video interview leading up to the return of Detroit 187 on January 4th. So hit the jump to check out a recap of the trip and my interview with the lovely Erin Cummings.

detroit_187_abc_posterNearly everyone in the U.S. has a preconceived notion of what Detroit is all about. Going in, I was told to stick within the downtown area; easy enough considering I wasn’t about to spring for a rental car. However, there is a life to the city that I wasn’t expecting. The reason I wanted to start this slew of coverage with Erin Cummings’ interview is because of how instrumental she was to giving the city a face. The first night the handful of press flew in we were invited to join Erin to introduce us to the city a bit.

Our first stop was American Coney Island, a favorite of Erin and several other cast members, and we were greeted by Erin’s friend, Grace Keros, the grand-daughter of the original creator Constantine Keros. Grace runs the daily operations of the restaurant chain, and she was a joy to share stories with while we ate the well-regarded Coneys. Their reputation is well deserved. Despite how much we ate, we hit Slows Bar-B-Q next. Once again, Erin’s friendly nature landed us company with Phillip Cooley, co-owner of the hip, green barbecue restaurant. As Erin so eloquently put it, since she never has room for desert when she eats at Slows, this was her chance to sample the desert menu and share it with us; I’m glad she did. I especially loved a brownie, coffee ice cream concoction aptly named “The Chuck Norris.”

We were all so impressed by the deserts and the smell of the barbecue that we came back the next night and sampled the entrees. I have to say, coming from Texas, where we have a knack for barbecue, I wasn’t expecting great things from Slows. However, I was shocked by how delicious and different the menu options were. Ever have spicy mashed sweet potatoes? I will never forget them. Oh, and the baby back ribs were soft and full of flavor, with or without the amazing apple barbecue sauce. However, the food wasn’t the only notable element about Slows.

Atmosphere can go a long way towards creating return customers, and Slows had it in spades. Instead of simply starting with a new building, they renovated the 1880s structure when they moved in in 2005 and reused the materials they could to create a unique blend of wood and brick within and without. Slows also utilizes green initiatives and uses responsibly grown food (much of it within the local area) as the base of their delicious meals. The place has a hip feel to it and draws a much younger crowd than one might expect, which was part of the charm for me.

These were a few of the people that populated my first experience with Detroit and it showed a side full of passion and initiative for the city they lived in. Every city has its share of flaws – the slums and dark alleys many wouldn’t walk alone – but there is a vitality and heart that I hope others get to see. But enough about my trip, onto the interview, right?

Erin Cummings has had a busy year in television by most accounts. Her first big role this year came as a star in Starz’ Spartacus: Blood and Sand, a gritty depiction of the gladiatorial games with a focus on Spartacus, sex, and lots of blood. Later in the year she landed a role in Mad Men, in which she plays a call girl that will be remembered for her scene where she slaps Don Draper. Her latest role as the Wayne County Medical Examiner, Dr. Abbey Ward, in Detroit 187 is small, but her scenes are always welcome. Dr. Ward seems to have a quick one-liner in every appearance that gives her character a spunky and fun vibe.

Because her role is so small, I decided to shift the focus away from just Detroit 187 and talk about her wonderful year as a whole. She has fallen in love with the city and with her spare time and newfound connections she got active and started a community initiative called Mittens For Detroit to give back. Grace Keros was instrumental in helping get the initiative started, and it’s taken off from there. So check out my interview below in which we talk about our odd connection, Mad Men, roller derby, Spartacus, the various connections with Bitch Slap, and her charity.

Below you can find the time stamped highlights:

  • 00:00- We discuss our odd connection of Huntsville, Texas.
  • 01:20- I ask if she used any of her MMA training for her scene in Mad Men to slap Jon Hamm.
  • 02:14- We talk about the wardrobes in Mad Men and whether she took anything home.
  • 02:57- She discusses how she trained for roller derby after her first scene in Detroit 187.
  • 04:19- Inquired about whether she had seen 300 and what she thought of it in relation to Spartacus.
  • 05:16- She discusses Mittens For Detroit.

As you can see, Erin is open and a joy to talk with. She brings intelligence to the interview and provides expansive and thoughtful answers to brief questions. For fans of the show, yes, we are in the police station. As I said, this was an on-set interview and we even visited the other soundstage they had setup to watch them film a scene in an upcoming episode. Stay tuned each day for a new interview as the return of Detroit 187 on Tuesday, January 4th at 10 EST on ABC approaches.