Jan 7, 2014 6:20 PM by UL WRITER SARAH SPELL

New HBO series has UL connections

Tim Hanks, who oversees security at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's New Iberia Research Center, plays two roles in a new HBO series called True Detective.

The series premieres Jan. 12.

Hanks worked behind the scenes as a technical advisor to the series' producers and also picked up a speaking part.

The show originated with Nic Pizzolatto, a New Orleans native who was cited by "Variety" magazine in June as one of "10 TV Writers to Watch."

It stars Woody Harrelson as Martin Hart and Matthew McConaughey as Rustin Cohle. They portray state police detectives who work together to track down a south Louisiana serial killer. The story is set in Acadiana.

There's another University connection in True Detective. Harrelson's character is a former USL baseball player, so some USL items show up on screen. Harrelson wears a USL graduation ring and Michelle Monaghan, who plays his wife, occasionally wears a vintage USL baseball jersey.

The story is fictional, but Hanks' law enforcement experiences were real. He worked as a Louisiana State Police trooper in Acadiana for 20 years, including 14 years as a detective. "I was able to help the producers nail down the details," he said.

The story unfolds in the 1990s, the same time Hanks was a state police officer. "We covered things like how the uniforms would have looked at the time and what kind of cars - big Chevy Caprices - were used as patrol units."

Hanks made other suggestions. "For example, the characters are doing research in a courthouse. Would the files they were looking for be on paper or microfilm? Those were the kinds of things we looked at."

Scott Stephens, the series' executive producer, said Hanks' contributions were outstanding.

"In our quest to have the Louisiana State Police and investigative aspects of our story accurate, Mr. Hanks proved invaluable," he wrote in an email to the University.

The series feature eight episodes. Viewers will have to wait a little while before Hanks makes an appearance, though. He'll make his television debut, performing with Harrelson, in episode six.

"It was a very interesting experience. I never thought my career as a detective would have taken me in this direction."



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