Posted on Mon, Jun. 23, 2003
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Gail Shister | A change of characters, but 'Hack' won't lose its religion
By Gail Shister
Hack is losing a priest and gaining an ex-nun. (Let's call it even. Amen.)
George Dzundza , who plays Father Tom "Grizz" Grzelak on CBS's Philly-based sophomore drama, is being dropped as a regular character, executive producer Bob Singer says.
Father Tom, a troubled sad sack, last season served as the combative conscience for troubled sad sack Mike Olshansky ( David Morse ), a disgraced Philadelphia cop turned crusading cabbie.
Replacing Father Tom will be a probation officer - a former nun - who lives next door to Olshansky's new digs in West Philadelphia. No casting yet for the recurring role.
Ditching Dzundza is part of Singer's mandate to brighten the gloomy show. The priest may appear in a few episodes.
"We love George and he did a great job," Singer says. "It was a tough decision. We're looking to bring in someone who can serve the spiritual part of the show, but a brighter part."
Production begins here July 16. Thirteen episodes are ordered, with an option for a full season's 22. As part of CBS's new fall lineup, Hack moves from 9 p.m. Fridays to 9 p.m. Saturdays.
Back to the ex-nun. Singer says he doesn't know yet whether she'll become a hormone stimulator for Olshansky. (A semi-comatose Bebe Neuwirth did the honors last season.) "We'll try a few things and see what clicks."
Another recurring role: a young con man Olshansky takes under his wing. No actor yet.
"The basic nature of the show is not going to change," says Singer. "Olshansky is what he is. He's not going to become Ray Romano ," star of the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond .
Olshansky "has his own moral compass. It just doesn't always point due north."
Ditto for Andre Braugher's Marcellus Washington, Olshansky's brooding ex-partner. He'll get some story lines this season as he mends his relationship with the cabbie, Singer says.
Production-wise, Hack's standing sets - Olshansky's hang-out diner, the taxi-company garage, and police squad room - will be consolidated at the Civic Center from various locations.