Noth stars in two-night 'Judge' television movie

Chris Noth may have been bummed, for the moment, about his knee, but he couldn't be happier about his new TV movie.

Noth both stars in and has a producer credit in "Steve Martini's The Judge," a two-night, four-hour NBC legal mystery airing at 8 p.m. today and Monday. Noth is cast as Paul Madriani, a lawyer who ends up spearheading the defense of a tough judge he despises, played by Edward James Olmos. Also starring is Lolita Davidovich as a prosecuting attorney who ends up on the defense team.

Reached in New York, Noth, an ardent jogger, was contemplating a possible operation on his right knee as the "Judge" air date approached. The prospect of having work done on the knee didn't affect his enthusiasm for the work he did on the film.

"Basically, it's like rebuilding a car," he said, referring to the work of assembling a cast and refining a script that was not firing on all cylinders.

His fingerprints are most visible in the casting. He brought on board Mark Blum, who plays Madriani's law partner; Sonia Braga, who plays Olmos' wife; and Charles Durning, very imposing as the judge who hears the story's legal case.

The teleplay, adapted from Martini's 1995 novel, finds Noth's character being persuaded to defend Olmos when the judge is charged with the murder of an undercover policewoman who was posing as a prostitute. As the tale unfolds, police corruption, romance and multiple suspects make for a complicated, but engrossing, two nights. The movie is set in Baltimore but was filmed in Toronto.

Martini, who was not closely involved during the filming, said he was pleased when he saw the result. "It was a faithful adaptation of the book," he said. "I guess any novelist would look for that first. Also, there was a good handle on the dialogue."

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