Michael Connelly doesn’t take much time off between projects.
The author of 35 international bestsellers announced Monday that The Lincoln Lawyer, a TV series based on six of his novels, has been picked up by Netflix. The announcement came just days before shooting will wrap on the seventh and final season of his hit Amazon series Bosch, about Los Angeles detective Harry Bosch.
Since September, he’s been working on both series as a writer. In December, he started a new novel (after publishing two in 2020).
Connelly, who has a home in Tampa, has been living with his family in Los Angeles since the pandemic began. “I miss Florida,” he said in a phone interview, “but I can’t see going through an airport right now.”
The Lincoln Lawyer TV series had been a CBS project, until it was shut down by the pandemic in March. Steered by veteran producer David E. Kelley, it was just days from starting to film when lockdown hit; CBS canceled it in May.
With Netflix picking it up, Kelley has stayed aboard as executive producer, along with Ted Humphrey, Ross Fineman and Connelly. Manuel Garcia-Rulfo will star as the title character, with other casting still underway.
Connelly talked to the Tampa Bay Times about The Lincoln Lawyer and other projects.
Tell us about the casting of Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Mickey Haller.
I think a lot of people think of Matthew McConaughey (who starred as Haller in the 2011 movie The Lincoln Lawyer) as being emblematic as Mickey. I’m not trying to act like Mr. Diversity here, but in the books Mickey’s mom is a telenovela star from Mexico, so he has that diverse heritage. I haven’t delved into that as much in the books, but it’s one of the things Netflix was interested in. Manuel is going to be fantastic. It’s exciting to be working with him.
Will you be as directly involved with this series as you have been with Bosch?
Well, I have been so far. I’m a book writer first, so I have to have the time for that. I’m not required (on the series) full time, but I go where I feel excited. The key part for me is the storytelling, the writing. The writers room (for The Lincoln Lawyer) actually started in September, with six writers. So we have scripts ready to go.
I’ve also been involved in the last part of Bosch, as we’re shooting the last episodes. It’s called producing, but the person who wrote the script has to be on the set to answer any questions. So that’s impacted my time on the other show, but in a good way. At least that’s what my agent says when I whine about it: Champagne problems.
How soon will The Lincoln Lawyer go into production?
We’d like to start shooting in March. Because we were so close to starting last year, we have locations picked, stages built. Of course, it’s all COVID related. I’m hoping things will shift to the good side. We have to do this safely.
That’s what we’ve done on Bosch. We built this kind of bubble. I think I’ve been tested hundreds of times, at least dozens, since we started shooting in August.
You insisted that Bosch be shot on authentic Los Angeles locations, and that’s one of the best things about the show. Will the same be true of The Lincoln Lawyer?
Yes, and I didn’t have to demand it. The show is about L.A. Mickey practices law from his Lincoln Town Car, and you see L.A. going by outside the windows. Ted Humphrey, the showrunner, told everybody he wanted the show to be as accurate to L.A. as Bosch is, so that’s the catchword.
We also want the accuracy of the law. The law drags on, so you have to find ways to make it dramatic. But we want this to be the most accurate legal show ever. I’m talking to a prosecutor and a defense attorney in Los Angeles, and I have my Florida legal consultants, Roger Mills in Tampa and Dan Daly in Gainesville.
Is there a drop date yet for The Lincoln Lawyer?
Netflix has so much product in the pipeline that it remains to be seen. We hope we’ll have the show ready by the end of this year.
Will there be any crossover of characters from your other series, as happens in your books?
No. That’s Hollywood. Netflix and Amazon are competitors, so I think it would take an act of the Supreme Court to get the characters to cross over.
What about LAPD Detective Renée Ballard, who hasn’t appeared in the Bosch TV series? Or are you keeping her in reserve for her own show?
I’ve always said that. But I’m turning 65, and I don’t know how much longer I’ll be plugging away in Hollywood. It’s such a thrill to see these characters come to life on the screen. I used to be mercenary about Renée — she’s a valuable property. But we’ll see.
How is the last season of Bosch going?
We’re filming the last episode. The whole show wraps its entire run a week from today (on Jan. 20).
How does it feel?
I keep using the word “bittersweet.” It’s like a family. The cast hasn’t changed. We still have about 85 percent of the original crew. Creatively, we’re going out at a good time. We knew it was going to be the last season, so we could write an ending. I feel like we made a story, a 68-hour story that will hold up over time. I’m proud, but it’s going to be a tough day.
Will Harry Bosch ever return to TV?
Never say never.
What’s your next book?
It will be out in the fall, likely in November. I don’t have a title yet, but it will be about Renée Ballard, with Bosch in there, too. I didn’t start it until late December, but I’ll get it done. I don’t outline the books, but I know it starts with her, and I know how she connects with Bosch.
The books about her all have references in the titles to night, so I have to come up with something cool about night.