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Behind the scenes on ''The Beat''

Behind the scenes on ”The Beat”–”Homicide” masterminds find new life on the street with UPN’s rookie cop show

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The crew of UPN’s new police drama, The Beat (premiering March 21), are heeding the siren call of New York City. As cocreators Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana shoot in front of a church in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, the screaming sound of a real-life NYPD car interrupts the scene. ”Show-offs,” Fontana cracks. ”You know they did that just for us.”

The big shots behind NBC’s deceased Homicide: Life on the Street are returning to TV as partners in the crime genre, but they swear The Beat won’t feel like a rerun. It follows a pair of young uniformed officers (Mark Ruffalo and Derek Cecil) as they pound the Big Apple pavement — but the show gives as much focus to their messy personal lives as to their profession. ”It’ll be an honest portrayal of cops,” promises Fontana. ”Let’s face it — I don’t want to get stopped by some New York cop who’s pissed off because of the show. I’ve got enough problems.”