Here's an article that ran in USA Today on Thursday, 6/28. Hope you enjoy it!
Underwood in role of author
Actor-author Blair Underwood's Casanegra is a play on the 1942 film classic Casablanca.
By Deirdre Donahue, USA TODAY
Philip Marlowe, watch your back.
If actor-turned-author Blair Underwood has his way, a new series featuring gigolo-turned-actor-turned-L.A. tough guy Tennyson Hardwick will be in bookstores every summer.
HERE'S LOOKIN' AT AN EXCERPT: Get a taste for 'Casanegra'
The first novel in the series is Casanegra (Atria, $25).
With a noir mix of murder, mayhem and sex, "it's like Walter Mosley meets Zane," says the Sex and the City co-star. "It's great summer reading."
FIND MORE STORIES IN: Casablanca Blair Underwood Photography Atria
The new book is an unusual literary collaboration. Underwood's co-authors are well-known married writers Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes. Underwood, 42, says the trio has ideas for 10 more Hardwick adventures. They've already sold the second book, In the Night of the Heat, to Atria.
Publishers Weekly praised Casanegra as "seamlessly entertaining." The novel takes on rappers, Hollywood glamour, inner-city despair, the LAPD and the seamy world of professional sex workers.
Underwood, best known for his years on the hit show L.A. Law, did not draw upon any firsthand knowledge of gigolo-hood. "Not at all!" says the actor, who's married and has three children.
But the inspiration for Hardwick came from a project years ago that matched Diana Ross as an older woman with Underwood as a gigolo. Though it never materialized, Underwood was fascinated by the idea of "taking that road of selling your body and your soul for money." He proposed the character of Hardwick to Due, whom he had met after optioning her 1997 supernatural suspense novel, My Soul to Keep.
Due wrote the first draft, then Barnes and Underwood weighed in. "But now we can no longer tell who wrote what line," Due says.
Underwood contributed his insider knowledge of the L.A. entertainment scene he has known for 20 years. His TV credits include The New Adventures of Old Christine and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He'll also star in the upcoming HBO drama In Treatment, which stars Gabriel Byrne as a psychologist. Underwood plays his Tuesday appointment, a fighter pilot.
Underwood — who has made People's "Most Beautiful People" and "Sexiest Men Alive" lists — wants to launch Hardwick as "a brand, a franchise." He hopes to produce a Hardwick film independently and has solved the major casting question of who would play the hero.
"That's me," he says.