‘Nash Bridges’ returns: Don Johnson reprises his former role

USA Network movie could be the first of several sequels

Cheech Marin (left) and Don Johnson star in a new “Nash Bridges” movie Saturday on USA Network.

Don Johnson’s career has been motoring along since “Nash Bridges,” but now, they’re together again.

While his work has been marked lately by such ventures as NBC’s “Kenan” (in which he’ll continue in its upcoming second season) and the hit movie “Knives Out,” the veteran actor followed his trendsetting “Miami Vice” run with another long-running show, about the exploits of a self-styled San Francisco police detective. It’s the same character in a new age — still driving a classic Barracuda — as Johnson returns in a new “Nash Bridges” movie that USA Network debuts Saturday, Nov. 27.

“Television has changed so much since we originally made the show, it’s like another lifetime,” says the friendly Johnson (also an executive producer of the film), “but somehow, we’ve managed to put lightning back in the bottle with this movie. It has all the bells and whistles and some surprises. It’s like putting on a pair of good old worn jeans, but they’re updated and cool.”

While Johnson already had been thinking about revisiting “Nash Bridges,” he explains production company Village Roadshow “got into business with the folks who own the other half of the copyright to the show along with me.” They then pitched him on doing the movie, “and the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced I could move it into the future and not lose its essence.”

New “Nash Bridges” supporting characters reflect current times, notes Johnson: “I have a transgender inspector on the force, as well as a millennial snowflake.” Cheech Marin and Jeff Perry (“Scandal”) also return from the original 1996-2001 show as Nash’s sleuthing cronies Joe Dominguez and Harvey Leek. “There was so much heart,” Johnson maintains. “I also put the original crew back together in San Francisco, so it was a work of love.”

Depending on how the “Nash Bridges” revival performs, there could be more movies or even another full series, per Johnson … who explains that because “Kenan” films for only part of the year, and both projects are under the NBC Universal group of networks, such a schedule would be possible and workable for him.

Years after its initial run ended, “Nash Bridges” was the object of legal action that ultimately saw Johnson win a settlement.

Don Johnson stars in a new “Nash Bridges” movie Saturday on USA Network.

“It’s been a very interesting journey,” he allows. “With this movie, the word ‘redemption’ comes to mind for me. It’s an acknowledgement that this was created by me and Hunter S. Thompson (the ‘gonzo’ journalist who also was a Johnson friend) and helped to be realized by Carlton Cuse (‘Lost’). No matter how many other people tried to insert themselves into the magic of it, we’ve managed to bring it back home.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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