‘Nikita’ delivers a new TV action hero


— Surely it is written somewhere in the vast television bylaws that
prime time needs to be routinely restocked with stunningly beautiful,
lethal women. Buffy, Xena, Sydney Bristow — they’re all gone now, but the remarkable kick-butt-itude they fostered must live on.

And so The CW has graciously stepped up to fill the
quota with a high-octane new fall series called “Nikita” starring
Maggie Q. Perhaps you’ve seen her in one of the show’s red-hot
promotional posters: Legs that go on forever and a sleek body adorned
in an artsy tattoo and just a touch of leather.

Oh, and she’s brandishing a gun.

“Nikita” is a reboot (TV execs just love that word) of the USA
cable hit “La Femme Nikita,” which itself was a remake of the original
French film, which also inspired an American flick starring Bridget Fonda. Clearly, in pop culture, what goes around comes around.

The Hawaiian-born Maggie got her start in a series of Hong Kong
action films and has shown off her skills in American flicks such as
“Mission Impossible III,” so the woman can brawl with the best of them.

Still, the grueling pace of television presents a heightened challenge.

“I’m half Asian, so (people) immediately go, ‘Oh,
well, you do kung fu,'” she told TV critics gathered here for their
summer press tour. “Like that’s what we all do. We wake up. We brush
our teeth and do kung fu. So it’s just assumed that you’re not working
your butt off to make this believable and great. And we absolutely are.”

In “Nikita,” which premieres on Sept. 9,
Maggie plays a former spy and assassin who has vowed to bring down the
shadowy government agency that trained her. She is instantly
captivating. The pilot episode bursts with vibrant action sequences and
surprising twists that set it apart from other versions of the saga.

“That was my first challenge … to find a way to do it fresh,” says executive producer Craig Silverstein. ” … Could we have a take where you didn’t know how this story was going to end? … So it’s not a rehash.”

Like Jennifer Garner in “Alias,”
Maggie will need to go undercover a lot, meaning she’ll be forced to
don everything from skimpy swimwear to gorgeous evening gowns. It’s
something she doesn’t exactly crave.

“I’ve gotten to that point,” she says, “where I’m so
used to being sort of sweaty and wearing pants and sitting like a guy
in boots and the whole thing, that when I’m dressed up and people are
touching me up, I’m less comfortable. I like to wear less makeup and be



Angela Bromstad, entertainment chief for NBC, says producers of “The Office” have a plan to replace Steve Carell, which will be worked into this season’s episodes.

“There will be a lot of story lines leading up to it,” she said. “And a lot of mystery as to who it will be.”

Bromstad said there has been no thought given to ending the series when Carell leaves.

“Would we have ended ‘ER’ when George Clooney left? That would have been a shame,” she said. “We have a great
ensemble in place. … I couldn’t go home and face my 14-year-old son
if we ended it.”

—In the age of Obama comes a new spy series from NBC called “Undercovers” that features two black leads in Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw — something virtually unheard of in broadcast television. Kodjoe realizes it’s a big deal, but wishes it wasn’t.

“It’s not the norm, but it should be the norm
because the world is diverse …,” he says. “We get to be trailblazers,
but let’s inspire people to think of it as normal.”

—More from NBC: The network is moving up the premiere dates of several shows, including “Parenthood” (Sept. 14), “Outlaw” (Sept. 15), and “The Apprentice” (Sept. 16). In addition, “30 Rock” will do a live episode on Oct. 14 and Rob Lowe is joining “Parks & Recreation” as a series regular. “Law & Order: SVU” will open the season on Sept. 22 with a two-hour episode.


(c) 2010, Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.).

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