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Charity Wakefield needs to be the new co-lead on 'Chicago Justice'

NBC’s Chicago Justice needs a new lead actress, and Charity Wakefield is the pick that makes all the sense.

There are about two months to find a new female Assistant State’s Attorney to partner up with Peter Stone, and there’s a not-so-short list of qualities that person needs to bring with them to Chicago. Wakefield, who’s coming off her dynamic role as Cassandra King on The Player, checks all the boxes, and she’d do the job in style.

First and foremost, Chicago Justice needs a real actress. That may sound obvious but Law & Order fans have seen the varying degrees of success that have happened with that franchise’s long list of female ADA’s. Some have been strong performers, and others not so much. You can’t plug just any actress into that role. You have to have someone who basically ignores the ‘Assistant’ part of the title and is as engaging as her male counterpart. Especially since Chicago Justice is writing the opening chapter of the Chicago franchise’s legal history, whoever takes that second chair needs to make a great first impression.

Wakefield is the kind of actress who can define a role and set the tone for anyone who might come after her. She was a certified ball-buster on The Player: a stylishly dressed, military-trained enigma who held her own opposite two very formidable men. Cassandra never shrank from anybody, and often she was able to cut through with just a line or two, which is exactly the kind of thing the new Chicago ADA would need to do. As mentioned in my discussion of Stone, lawyers in the Dick Wolf world have to shine with their dialogue, and the second chairs don’t get those kick-butt opening or closing monologues that the first chairs enjoy. It’s a job description that requires surgical precision, so give it to the girl who can handle words as sharply as Cassandra handled a sniper rifle.

There are also plenty of other factors in play. NBC needs to find someone who has chemistry with Philip Winchester, who plays Stone, because their characters are going to be pretty much joined at the hip. Wakefield just spent nine episodes starring opposite him; the entire run of The Player could be considered one big chemistry test. The two had a definite rapport on screen, complete with the kind of witty banter TV networks love.

Off screen, they obviously know how to work together and enjoyed doing so. Rather than throw someone brand new into the fire and hope that they click in the limited amount of time before Justice begins shooting in September, why not hire the actress with the proven track record? It makes sense from a business perspective. The network saw what Wakefield can do last fall; they know what they’re getting with her, both on and off screen. They were impressed enough with Winchester’s work on The Player to offer him the lead role on Justice, so clearly they appreciated the quality of acting on the prior show. And Wakefield stepped up when it came to press and promotion for the series as well.

Bringing in someone who’s shown herself to be both talented and a solid representative for the network is a more than safe bet, especially since they’re replacing someone who left for another show. With Justice aiming for the longevity of its sister shows, NBC should be looking for an actress they can hold onto. It only does the show harm if it’s casting for another co-lead next season.

Wakefield even has a little bit of related experience: In 2009, she played aspiring lawyer Brady Hamm in the busted pilot Legally Mad. That pilot was for NBC, and it was set in a law firm in Chicago. Maybe that was a sign of bigger things to come? However you want to slice it, there’s no one who would be a better fit for Chicago Justice than Charity Wakefield. She is a tremendous actress who has yet to have a truly breakout role on American TV, and she absolutely deserves one. The Player may have only lasted nine episodes, but what she was able to do in those nine episodes was truly impressive, taking the character of Cassandra and exploring her multiple facets to absolutely get the most out of her.

Landing on Chicago Justice would be a great next step up, and it’s exciting just to think about the kind of character she’d create. Her Assistant State’s Attorney would not just be sitting in the courtroom taking notes. She would be speaking up and playing the counterpoint to Stone’s point. If Stone is the next Michael Cutter, Wakefield is definitely his Connie Rubirosa—and she might even be a little unpredictable, too.

Putting the role in Wakefield’s hands would take it in a bold new direction, which is what Justice has set out to do and should do. It’s cast a great, fresh lead in Winchester, so it’s time to arm him with someone who is equally exciting and inspiring and who can help define Chicago’s prosecutors in a way that we haven’t seen before. Wakefield delivers all that the network needs from a female lead both on and off screen. Let’s go get her and definitively state that this show is going to shake things up—because it absolutely can if it makes the right moves.

There’s a lot invested in Chicago Justice, so it behooves NBC to get this important piece of recasting right. The way they can do that is to make Charity Wakefield the next Assistant State’s Attorney.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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