You are currently viewing Expect to hear a familiar voice on HBO’s “We Own This City”

Expect to hear a familiar voice on HBO’s “We Own This City”

Expect to see plenty of local actors appear in HBO’s new miniseries “We Own This City,” including OMCP sportscaster J. Brooks.

OMCP’s Jason Fraley & J. Brooks Premiere “We Own This Town” (Part 1)

“The Wire” creators David Simon and George Pelecanos return to Baltimore for the new crime drama miniseries “We Own This City,” which premieres Monday night on HBO.

Expect to see plenty of local actors appear on screen, including OMCP sportscaster J. Brooks, who graciously offered a behind-the-scenes look at his filming experience.

“If you’re looking for a lot of fun to do tonight and surfing the channels, be sure to watch HBO’s ‘We Own This City’ where yours truly makes an appearance,” Brooks said. “See if you can find me, or better yet, see if you can hear me – like you do on WTOP.”

Based on a book by Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton, the series is set during the 2015 Baltimore riots following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in police custody. Amid the city’s highest murder rate, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins (Jon Bernthal) leads an undercover unit called the Gun Trace Task Force, only to uncover a plot within its ranks.

“Part of it is the story of Freddie Gray… when our own Mike Murillo was in Baltimore covering the story and the aftermath of how the cops ran the city. [In] “We own this town”, the cops owned this town, not you, the citizens or anyone else. The cops owned this town and could show their badge and get whatever they wanted,” Brooks said.

As a sportswriter, Brooks will never forget the riots near Camden Yards.

“When the Freddie Gray situation happened…there was an Orioles game that had no fans in the stadium,” Brooks said. “All the baseball players are playing in the field while outside the stadium all this chaos is unfolding. It was a very surreal moment. It was before the election and the pandemic and everything; it was a prelude of things to come.

Brooks says he auditioned for the HBO series practically last summer.

“It was a weird process where I did a Zoom audition in June,” Brooks said. “Then all of a sudden, out of the blue in August, I get this email saying, ‘You’ve been chosen’.”

You can spot him in Episode 4 (airing May 14) in a scene filmed August 30 in a former jail at the Brockbridge Correctional Facility in Jessup, Maryland, which closed in 2019.

“I got a call at 7:30 and got a trailer for the first time,” Brooks said. “I was like, ‘This is going to be great, I’m going to shoot my scene at 8, I’ll be gone by 9.’ Well, I’ve been sitting in my trailer for four hours going over my four lines and sweating…. We finally got in and I was chasing some adrenaline…. I just went at my wit’s end and played to Mr. Sarcasm.

Brooks plays a director of corrections arguing with Bernthal in prison.

“We shot two different shots in this scene where the camera is over my right shoulder facing Jon…then we did the opposite and put the camera on the other side of the cell where you see me” , said Brooks. “I guess they might mess up the plan, that’s why you can hear me more than see me, but whoever Jon is talking to is really yours.”

Their dialogue exchange becomes quite heated during the scene.

“I say, ‘Would you all like to be in separate cells? “, Brooks said. “Jenkins says, ‘My band is all together and we’re staying here. I sarcastically say, ‘Not here, you are,’ the expositor. a cell. Our confrontation was between a metal screen with bars. He yells at me and I take whatever he throws at me.

Director Reinaldo Marcus Green (“King Richard”) kept the camera rolling.

“You walk past him and you might feel like this aura is emanating from him — and I’m not just saying that,” Brooks said. “He basically watched after the first two cuts to see where things were going. What he’s allowed us all to do is have fun and, I don’t mean get out of the script, but let’s push it as far as we can.

At the end, Bernthal had blood on his nose and Brooks spat in his face.

“He kicks so hard the door hits the bridge of his nose and blood starts pouring out of his nose,” Brooks said. “We kept rolling, we kept going because it was a powerful scene, and he actually spat on me. Spit in my face! It was a professional spat, it wasn’t a big loogie, it was done by professionals, but I didn’t flinch.

Afterwards, Brooks told Bernthal that they had a mutual friend in Frank Hanrahan of WTOP.

“As we were going out, ‘I was like, ‘I’m working with a friend of yours, Frank Hanrahan,'” Brooks said. “[Bernthal] was like, ‘Frank Hanrahan! He was just a god on the basketball court. … I was talking to Frank and I said, “I’m doing this movie in Baltimore,” and he was like, “Hey! I grew up playing basketball with him. They were all amazed at Frank’s three-point shots.

Bernthal then reached out to Hanrahan to deliver a message to Brooks.

“He actually reached out to Frank and apologized for it and said, ‘Your friend was really cool rolling with things and I just wanted to apologize, I was just going with the scene,’ and I was just like, ‘That was really cool,’ because he didn’t have to…. I’ll always remember him because I have his DNA splattered all over my face.

Brooks isn’t the only WTOP radio personality to perform on the side. He says OMCP’s John Aaron and Sandy Kozel also star in various local productions.

“We support each other if we find something or hear something,” Brooks said.

Brooks grew up performing plays like “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Oliver” in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, before starring in “Grease” at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater. After joining the OMCP, he began receiving emails from the SAG-AFTRA union regarding local acting gigs.

“I’m like, ‘Wow, I could be on ‘Veep,’ which I was. I could be on ‘House of Cards,'” Brooks said. “I get to make money, hang out with some pretty cool people, it’s not really a lot of work, it’s a lot of fun. … For ‘Wonder Woman 2’ I did 12 days with [WTOP’s] George Wallace was very helpful in rearranging my schedule so that I could play the role.

He encourages other locals to try their hand at acting.

“If it’s a side hustle, if it’s a career hustle, if it’s your dream, take it from me: If I can do it, anyone can do it,” Brooks said. “Follow your dreams because the worst thing in your life is looking back at something you could have done if you had only tried it.”

OMCP’s Jason Fraley and J. Brooks Preview “We Own This Town” (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

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