Garcelle Beauvais, who plays the new assistant D.A. on ”NYPD Blue” (ABC, Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ), knows that her character, Valerie Haywood, will be doing more than prosecuting homicide cases. A veteran of a five year run on ”The Jamie Foxx Show,” Beauvais, 33, signed on for ”NYPD Blue” and its unusual back end deal. Like stars Dennis Franz, Kim Delaney, and Rick Schroder, she had to sign what the actors jokingly call ”the butt clause.” EW.com asked her to explain, and to give us a preview of what’s coming up this season.
Is it true you gave up a role on NBC’s now canceled ”Titans” to be on ”NYPD Blue”?
Originally, I was only asked to do three episodes of ”NYPD Blue.” Then out of the blue, I got a call from Aaron Spelling’s office saying they wanted to add me to ”Titans.” And my manager said that’s amazing, but ”NYPD Blue” would be better for my career. So we called up [producer] Steven Bochco’s office and said, ”This is what’s being offered,” and he said, ”We’re making her a regular.” So it all fell into place.
One of your first scenes was a confrontation with Dennis Franz. How intimidating was that?
My first day, knowing that I had a scene with him, couldn’t have been more terrifying — not only being the new kid in school but thinking he was going to eat me alive. He’s the anchor, the Big Daddy of the show. He is the only original left, and people watch this show because of him.
Give us a hint about the two departures coming up this year: Lt. Fancy [James McDaniel] and Det. Diane Russell [Kim Delaney]. Gunshots? Long tortured sickness?
From what I understand, if Kim’s new show, ”Philly” (which will also be produced by Bochco), doesn’t work out, she’s welcome to come back. So I can’t imagine they could kill her off. And, as for Fancy, he leaves because he’s promoted to captain and gets transferred, so it’s a happy departure for him.
Who will replace Lt. Fancy?
At first, a woman lieutenant comes on, but everyone hates her. She’s only on a couple of episodes before somebody else gets the job. The permanent lieutenant is another man. I can’t say who it is, but he is a very recognizable actor.
What do you think of the rumor that you and Det. Baldwin Jones [Henry Simmons] are going to get together?
I think there’s definitely something blooming between the two of us. At first I thought, can they have two main characters together and not have it be awkward? But then again, they do it all the time. Later on in the season, we’ll go on a date, and then I ask him out again — maybe at the end of February or beginning of March.
Our TV critic Ken Tucker has said that black actors on TV dramas often get good titles but not good screen time. Are you concerned about that?
I understand people saying that. But I can’t say that yet, because I’m just coming on. That was a big conversation that I had with the producers. I don’t want to be set dressing. I want a full rounded character, and I want to be somebody who’s going to have a chance to act and be part of the show, otherwise it’s a waste of our time. I definitely won’t sit still for my character just coming in here and there without a real purpose. What’s the point of having us on if we’re just going to fill a quota?
Your costars have dropped trou in the past — what about you?
When we were negotiating the contract for the series, my manager said, ”You know there’s a butt clause, right?” I was like, ”A WHAT clause?” There IS this nudity clause, explaining that this is what the show’s known for, and asking you to be up to the task. So I immediately started working out more than I ever had.
When is it appropriate to invoke the butt clause?
Well, I started off as a model and am really comfortable with my body, so I don’t have a problem with it as long as it’s believable. If two people on the show are making love, then the nudity is perfectly appropriate. Henry keeps telling me we need to practice, but I don’t believe him. Henry’s amazing, so everyone’s going to be looking at him anyway. As for me, it’s all in a day’s work.
What does your mom say?
Funny thing, my mom was here and we watched the episode when Rick Schroder [Det. Sorenson] and Kim Delaney end up in bed, and all of a sudden, they show his entire backside. She looked at me and said, ”Oh my God, could this happen with you?” Yes it could, and it probably will!