Don Johnson shares his feelings about the new Miami Vice
Published July 27, 2005
Editor's note: Each summer TV critic Tom Jicha travels to the West Coast for the networks' press preview of upcoming programs.
Beverly Hills, Calif. · Don Johnson and Sonny Crockett are coming back, but a continent apart. As the theatrical version of Miami Vice shoots in South Florida, with Colin Farrell taking over as Crockett opposite Jamie Foxx as Tubbs, Johnson is in California working on a new WB drama, Just Legal.
Johnson says this is fine with him. He said his preference would be to not even talk about the old NBC series, which propelled him from obscurity to superstardom. "I don't even think about that. I'm a move-forward-type guy," he said.
With a little prodding, it becomes clear he has thought quite a bit about the film. As he sees it, the Vice movie is an ego trip by Michael Mann, who also produced the series. "Miami Vice is a TV show that happened 20 years ago. What they're doing is not Miami Vice. It will be something akin to Miami Vice. It's a full-circle thing for Michael. He gets to co-opt the ownership of it. He gets to finally own it 100 percent as opposed to it being Don Johnson's or Anthony Yerkovich's." (Yerkovich created the concept, then left it in Mann's hands.)
As for someone else taking over his signature role, Johnson's attitude is: Good luck to him. "I'm taking nothing away from Colin Farrell. He's a wonderful actor. But I think it's going to be difficult for some people to make the transition."
Johnson's new character, Grant Cooper, is the antithesis of hip, stylish Sonny Crockett. Grant is a burned-out, disheveled ambulance chaser, whose career and spirits are revived when he reluctantly takes an idealistic 18-year-old prodigy as his partner.
"I like the difference in the characters," Johnson said. "[Grant] is funny, he's smart and he's got a real history, not unlike me."
Jay Baruchel, who plays Grant's hyper young assistant, was 2 years old when Miami Vice premiered. But he knows how to butter up his famous co-star. "My father idolized Sonny Crockett," he said, "and I love Miami Vice. It's kind of still the coolest show ever."
Johnson said he was pondering retirement until he was approached to do Just Legal -- and his wife Kelley reminded him that he has five children. Coincidentally, the mother of one of those children, Melanie Griffith, to whom he was married twice, is making her TV debut this fall in the WB comedy Twins.
"Melanie is working?" Johnson said, coyly feigning ignorance before admitting that he was kidding. "Of course I know she's on the network. I'm delighted for her. She'll be terrific. She's a wonderful talent."
A few minutes later, at the network's press conference for Twins, Griffith expressed similar sentiments toward her ex. "I'm really happy for him. I'm even happier for our daughter because her trust fund is going to really be healthy."