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Drop Dead Diva’ Creator Set to Debut New Show, ‘Notorious’

The cast of ABC's "Notorious." Kevin Foley / ABC

When Josh Berman was a law student, he found himself craving a creative outlet. So eventually, he ended up spending his days writing legal briefs and his nights writing TV scripts.

“I basically realized a TV script is almost structured like a legal brief in some ways and yet you have all the creative elements. You don’t have to stick to the rules,” Berman told NBC OUT.

TV producer and writer Josh Berman. Robert Trachtenberg

Berman, who has written and produced hit television shows including “Bones," “CSI” and "Drop Dead Diva," is ready to debut his latest project -– ABC’s new drama “Notorious.” And once again, he'll be able to mix his legal background and his creative cravings.

“Notorious," which Berman created with Allie Hagan, examines the relationship between the media and criminal law, giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the intersection. The drama centers on a television producer and an attorney -- characters based on “Larry King Live” producer Wendy Walker and defense attorney Mark Geragos.

To Berman, meeting Walker and Geragos made it clear “Notorious” was his next project. “Once I heard their stories, I realized it opened up a whole new world of stories in me and I left that meeting knowing I had to write ‘Notorious.’”

In a television landscape full of crime procedurals, Berman sees “Notorious” as an opportunity to add something special, because it is not from the perspective of those at the crime scene.

“This show gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at a real life case, and ‘Notorious’ is inspired by real stories, and if you are a news geek, crime junkie or legal junkie you will see similar types of stories told in a very different and grounded way,” Berman told NBC OUT.

DANIEL SUNJATA, PIPER PERABO
Powerhouse TV news producer Julia George (Piper Perabo) capitalizes on the notoriety of the clients of charismatic defense attorney Jake Gregorian (Daniel Sunjata) in ABC drama "Notorious." Eli Joshua Ade / ABC

Piper Perabo and Daniel Sunjata were chosen to lead the cast as TV producer Julia George and defense attorney Jake Gregorian, respectively.

“Daniel Sunjata was the first choice for the role,” Berman said. “He is the perfect combination of head and heart.”

“When we cast the role of Julia we did not know Piper Perabo was available. I really wanted to work with her and we kept telling people we wanted a ‘Piper Perabo type’ and sure enough she read the script and wanted to do it,” he added.

The cast is rounded out by Kate Jennings Grant, Ryan Guzman, Aimee Teegarden, Sepideh Moafi, J. August Richards and Kevin Zegers.

“All of our actors really popped on screen and they tested really well," Berman said. "The fun now is we have an entire series to allow the actors to shine.”

AIMEE TEEGARDEN, RYAN GUZMAN
Still of Aimee Teagarden and Ryan Guzman from "Notorious" episode "Pilot." Eli Joshua Ade / ABC

One thing viewers can look forward to is the relationship between Teegarden and Guzman’s characters. Teegarden’s character is an employee at Jake’s firm, while Guzman plays the newest hire on Julia’s team who is out to prove himself.

“They have incredible chemistry together, they like each other so much in real life and it is a joy to write for them,” Berman added.

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As a gay man, Berman believes LGBTQ storytelling is important and has included LGBTQ storylines in past productions -- something he will continue on "Notorious."

“There is an LGBTQ character among our cast, and it is not obvious in the pilot, and it is something that may come out in an unexpected way over the course of the first season,” Berman explained.

“Notorious” will premiere September 22 and Berman is excited to see how it is received. “It is going to subvert expectations, keep people on the edge of their seats and it is a new way to tell stories that will engage the viewer,” he concluded.

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