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The day that would change everything

September 17, 2006|Greg Braxton | Times Staff Writer

ABC'S new series "The Nine" is a TV milestone. It's most likely the first drama in TV history to be inspired by a blind date from hell.

K.J. Steinberg, who created the series along with her brother, Hank Steinberg, recalled how she once talked with a friend about an evening that was so disastrous that he knew he and his date had no future together. Walking after dinner to their car, the couple were robbed at gunpoint by a mugger who took all their money and fled.

"My first thought was to ask my friend, 'So, you still seeing her?' " said Steinberg. "I wanted to know how that experience changed him, how it changed their destiny."

The outcome of that incident gradually led to "The Nine," which examines the lives of nine strangers who were hostages in a 52-hour siege at a bank. It's clear from the drama's tense pilot that what transpired over those 52 hours permanently altered the hostages' lives, forging unlikely ties among them.

"We've focused on how a group of strangers can experience something that binds them and causes them to reexamine their lives," Steinberg said. "They get a second chance."

The large cast includes Tim Daly, who plays a police detective who winds up at the center of the robbery, Chi McBride as the shy branch manager, Scott Wolf as a hotshot surgeon and Owain Yeoman as one of the two bank robbers who hopes the crime will be successful enough to give him a brighter future.

Episode by episode, the drama will look at the core nine strangers, and reveal another piece of what happened during the siege.

Daly, who has starred in "Wings" and numerous other series and movies, is enthusiastic about the concept of the series. "When any person reaches consciousness, they have a plan of how they want their life to go, and then inevitably something throws that plan off course. How you adapt to that defines your character."

He noted that he knew little about what his character goes through during the robbery: "There's so much secrecy that surrounds the show. We get as much information as we need to know. The writers need to leave themselves a lot of latitude."

"The Nine" has already received plenty of positive buzz from critics who have seen the pilot, which executive producer Hank Steinberg finds encouraging. And whatever happened to the dating couple that inspired the series?

Said K.J. Steinberg, "They're getting married."


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