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posted: 7/19/2014 7:00 AM

'Battle Creek' turns Michigan city into star magnet

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  • Josh Duhamel, left, and Dean Winters speak onstage during the "Battle Creek" panel at the CBS 2014 Summer TCA held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Thursday, July 17, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

      Josh Duhamel, left, and Dean Winters speak onstage during the "Battle Creek" panel at the CBS 2014 Summer TCA held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Thursday, July 17, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
    Associated Press

 
By LYNN ELBER
AP Television Writer

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The Michigan city of Battle Creek is becoming a star magnet.

CBS' new police series "Battle Creek" is being filmed in Los Angeles, but its cast is making pilgrimages to Battle Creek to soak up the atmosphere. Kal Penn visited, going on a ride-along with officers and observing in the squad room.

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Josh Duhamel planned to take a red-eye flight Friday to gather his own impressions of Battle Creek, he told a TV critics' meeting Thursday. He's traveling solo, leaving wife Fergie and their baby behind for the weekend, the actor said.

He should receive a warm welcome: Penn said everyone he met was "super nice" and excited about the series created by Vince Gilligan ("Breaking Bad"). "Battle Creek" stars Duhamel and Dean Winters as odd-couple law enforcement partners.

Gilligan, who came up with idea more than a decade ago, was asked if he could have imagined that his five years spent building AMC's "Breaking Bad" into a hit could have led to the revival of his dormant script.

"Yes, I saw it all coming," Gilligan said, tongue firmly in cheek. Then he got serious.

"Not even remotely did I see the success of 'Breaking Bad,"' he said. When he came up with the idea for "Battle Creek" 12 years ago, "I thought I'd be lucky if I wasn't living in half of a double-wide."

"Battle Creek," which also features Janet McTeer, Edward Fordham Jr. and Aubrey Dollar, will air in midseason.

Because Gilligan's attention is being consumed by the "Breaking Bad" prequel "Better Call Saul," David Shore ("House") was brought in as the showrunner.

It was the combination of Gilligan and Shore that helped sell him on the show, said Winters, whose credits include "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and the Mayhem character in TV commercials for an insurance company.

Shore put him on the spot, saying Winters was initially reluctant to sign on to a network series.

"I had a terrible experience the year before and I said, 'Never again,"' Winters said, not specifying the program or the details.

Duhamel, who spent five years on the TV drama "Las Vegas," said he was aware of how much commitment a series can require. That didn't deter him, he said, but he had to make sure he was excited about the project and the people he'd be working with.

Taping the show in LA was a bonus.

"I have a little one now and wanted to be there as often as I can," Duhamel said of his nearly 1-year-old son, Axl Jack.

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