TELEVISION 'Blue' actor takes trip to 'Deadwood'
Gordon Clapp hopes his small role turns into something bigger.
By KATE O'HARE
Former "NYPD Blue" star Jimmy Smits was seen enjoying the company of David Milch, creator of HBO's "Deadwood" (and co-creator of "Blue") during "Deadwood's" second-season premiere party in Hollywood in early March.
As of yet, Smits -- who can currently be seen as a congressman stumping for the White House on NBC's "The West Wing" -- has not made an appearance in the profanity-laced Western, which airs Sundays at 9 p.m.
But someone paying attention when the second-season finale of "Deadwood" airs May 22 will see another "Blue" alumni slipping into the series just before the end.
Gordon Clapp, who played Det. Greg Medavoy for almost the entire run of "Blue," is in rehearsals in New York to play Dave Moss in David Mamet's play "Glengarry Glen Ross," which had its first preview last week at Broadway's Royale Theater, in anticipation of a May 1 opening.
On his first day rehearsing, Clapp takes a break to explain how he went from the paved streets of The Big Apple's 15th Precinct to the muddy thoroughfare of the mining camp of Deadwood, S.D., in the spring of 1877.
"I kept running into David," he says, "and David kept saying, 'We've got to get you over here. Well find something. We're going to make something for you.' Finally I did show up on set. I'm just trying to get a foothold there.
"I guess you could call it a cameo. I don't think there's too much a point of reference for who this character is, but I hope that he'll be able to expand on this at some point.
"He's loosely identified as 'The Tailor,' but the scene that establishes him as a tailor was ultimately never written. That was something that David had conceived, but it turned out there really wasn't time in the script for that scene, so there's just a couple of hints that that's what he does for a living."
If you're afraid of seeing any "Deadwood" spoilers, look away now, because Clapp explains, 'I'm basically part of this big wedding celebration that's going on. Big wedding at the end of the season. That's food for good detective work."
Of course, Clapp doesn't reveal exactly which parties are to wed, leaving fans free to speculate.
After spending several years working with Milch in "NYPD Blue," Clapp said it wasn't all that strange of an experience to encounter him again on "Deadwood."
"Yes, it's a completely different backdrop," he says, "but David's words are David's words, and it's extraordinary how appropriate they are to both venues. His sentence constructions are just wonderful."
"Deadwood" recently finished filming on its location at Gene Autry's Melody Ranch in Newhall, Calif., where much of the town has been fully constructed, from saloons and whorehouses to merchant's stalls and pigpens.
Detail on the set
On one morning in January, from the vantage point of the front porch of Star & amp; Bullock Hardware -- a complete building, inside and out, including shovels, picks, oil lamps and other merchandise -- sights to see included a makeup artist knitting a sweater next to a dozing, dirty prospector; a fully gutted (but fake) deer carcass lying near some equally fake dead chickens; and two cowboys perched on their horses in the rutted main street waiting for their cue, one of whom was chatting on his cell phone.
"Oh, my God, it's extraordinary," Clapp says of the sets. "A couple of weeks ago, I went up to get my whiskers and throw together some wardrobe. I walked over there with David. It was chilling to be on that set. They've built this extraordinary town.
"Some of the buildings have sets in them, but there's a big soundstage there for a lot of the sets, and they're building another stage. I think they plan to be there for some time."
Asked what other "Blue" cohorts he'd like to see in "Deadwood," Clapp says, "You know what, Mark-Paul Gosselaar would be great in 'Deadwood,' absolutely. I think Bill Brochtrup would fit in there, too, except I think I'm playing his role."