Prime Suspect
Credit: NBC

Critics at their summer press tour in Beverly Hills are upset about Maria Bello’s hat. The actress starring in NBC’s update of Prime Suspect this fall wanders through the pilot wearing this hat, you see. And it’s sort of distracting. And they don’t really like it.

First, critics went straight to the top. You have a few minutes to talk to NBC’s head of entertainment Robert Greenblatt? You ask about the hat.

“I like the hat,” Greenblatt said. “It’s iconic and, you know … [1970s Kojak star] Telly Savalas, didn’t he have a hat? … I hope you all write about the hat.”

Then they turned to the Prime Suspect cast and showrunner, asking, “Some of us seem to think it’s a little distracting or outdated. Why the hat? Are you going to keep it?”

“It’s very accurate in terms of NYPD detectives,” said executive producer Alexandra Cunningham. “They all seem to wear hats. I don’t know whether it’s a weather thing or whether it’s one of the only fashion statements they can make, considering how buttoned down they all have to be. But I was surprised by the number of fedoras, especially given it’s 2011. So it’s Maria’s iconic idiosyncrasy.”

But the biggest hat defender was Bello herself. And, from the sound of things, the hat was her idea and she’s pretty serious about it. Which makes Greenblatt and Cunningham defending the curious wardrobe choice that has a modern female detective looking like a 1940s mobster make a bit more sense.

“I was obsessed with the hat,” Bello says. “Yes. I feel like it’s my magic hat. When I put it on, I was this character. It felt right to me. It felt like this is who Jane is. And I got it from my friend Claire. The first night I ever met her, she handed me the hat. She said, ‘This belongs to you.’ And I put it on, and for me, it’s Jane Timoney.”

Lesson learned. It’s Bello’s magic hat. Don’t mess with it.