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Episode 1.1 "Street Fight"
Series canceled before airing (2006)

Lee Tergesen was in Providence, Rhode Island, in September 2006, filming a guest role for a new CBS series called "Waterfront." 

The series was to star Joe Pantoliano as Jimmy Centrella, the "colorful" mayor of Providence. However, "Waterfront" is likely another Lee appearance (like "Southern Comfort") that may never air on TV.

Lee's role appears to have been as a character named Henry, described in the script as an "overgrown blue-blood bad boy turned recovering alcoholic." Henry has a history -- and a child -- with Heather, the mayor's wife (played by Mary Stuart Masterson).

"Waterfront" was intended to be a mid-season replacement in early 2007, and CBS had ordered 13 episodes. However, with the pilot and four episodes already completed, CBS decided to shelve the series.

Creative differences, high production costs and a lack of available time slots were cited as reasons behind the network's decision, according to news reports Oct. 19, 2006.

During the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in January 2007, CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler addressed the network's cancellation of midseason drama Waterfront. "I looked at scripts. We looked at the dailies. We were making a determination about what time periods we had available to us the second half of the season, and we weren't happy," she said. "I wasn't happy creatively with the direction the show was going in. We had an opportunity to look at a full episode before we made that decision. It's not easy, and it's really one of the more unpleasant things we get to do, but you had to do it."

Shortly after the decision to stop production, Pantoliano showed the first two episodes at a special screening Oct. 23, 2006, at a cafe in downtown Providence. The Providence Journal reviewed the episodes, describing Pantoliano’s Mayor Jimmy Centrella as "a fast-talking, fast-thinking, man-of-the-people leader with a roguish streak. ... The mayor is still meant to be the good guy, even if he bends the rules a bit."

The review further notes that "Centrella is fairly brutal in his treatment of his stepdaughter’s shiftless father, who is trying to get back into his daughter’s life."

The "stepdaughter’s shiftless father" likely is Lee's character. A draft of the script for "Waterfront" describes him like this:

Henry's typically a charmer, but under stress his facade is wearing thin. He's an overgrown blue blood bad boy turned recovering alcoholic, yet another example of the decline of the East Coast WASP aristocracy. Heather struggles against her own vulnerability and her history with him.

In the first scene from the script, he is meeting with Heather (Mary Stuart Masterson) -- the mayor's wife and Henry's ex. She is the mother of Annabelle, who is the subject of their conflict. Henry wants back into Annabelle's life -- after about a 16-year absence.  

Heather runs down the litany of Henry's sins:

HEATHER: The night I gave birth to her, you disappeared for three months. I couldn't buy a thermometer when she was sick because you raided my bank account. When she was two, I found..."
HENRY: I know the list, okay. How many times do you want me to plead guilty.
HEATHER: It's been a lot better since you've been gone.

Then Henry plays his trump card.

HENRY: My mom's sick... End-stage ovarian cancer. ... She wants to see Annabelle. That's why I'm here.
HEATHER: Classic Henry ... Trotting out an old lady's dying wish.

Nevertheless, as the two part, Heather's resolve is crumbling. But Mayor Jimmy takes things in hand.

The next scene is at the hotel where Henry had been staying. The receptionist, a young Asian woman, tells Henry, "We have no record of you staying at this hotel." The hotel manager intervenes, and the script includes a classic snarky Lee line:

HOTEL MANAGER: Is there a problem, sir?
HENRY: Yes. Geisha girl lost my room.

After a few more minutes, it dawns on Henry that Jimmy is behind the sudden "loss" of his hotel room and belongings.

The next scene is at City Hall. Annabelle is there with Jimmy, her stepfather.  She spots Henry, her dad. Seems glad to see him, but the mayor shoos her away and drags Henry to his office.

There, the scene gets ugly. Henry was just there to get his stuff, but Jimmy wants to run him out of town. A couple of henchmen enter the office, and Henry realizes they aim to rough him up. 

JIMMY: We had a deal, Henry.
HENRY: Statute of limitations ran out.
JIMMY: You're not in a position to renegotiate.
HENRY: My mother is dying. The doctor said less than a week. ...
JIMMY: What happened? Mommy Meacham carve you out of the will? She'd rather leave it all to the Friends of the Philharmonic than to her deadbeat son? You have nothing to show her that you amounted to anything, so you got to parade my daughter in front of her death bed?
HENRY: Hate to break it to you, Jimmy, but no matter how many ribbons you cut or wiseguys you grease, you'll never be her father.

Right about then, Jimmy grabs a fire poker and whacks Henry in the leg. He continues to berate him, and goads Henry into an attack. That's when one of the henchmen steps in, grabs Henry and slams him face-first into the floor. Turns out the henchman is a cop, and he cuffs Henry. 

Their parting words:

HENRY: You can't steal my entire family.
JIMMY: Your family, your dignity, your self-respect, you left them out on the curb with the garbage. I didn't take anything that you didn't hand over on a plate.

Yep, that's brutal.

Related Links

IMDb // Wikipedia

CBS drops Waterfront
Providence Journal

A Brief Glimpse of Waterfront
Review from 
Providence Journal

Boston.com article
about the series

Providence Journal
article about filming

Take 2: Another 
Providence Journal
article about the show

Pilot episode (no Lee)
on YouTube

Behind the Scenes

The Boston Herald noted a couple of Lee sightings:

Sept. 21, 2006, item: 
"Waterfront" actor Lee Tergesen ordered up a ton of lobsters from Atlantic Seafood, his fave fish store in Old Saybrook, Conn., [near Lee's hometown] for the cast and crew of the set-in-Rhody series. 

Sept. 11, 2006, item:
The cameras rolled near the front entrance of oh-so-posh Moses Brown School the other day. Series star Lee Tergesen, late of "Desperate Housewives" and "Oz," and Ray Wise, who played Vice President Hal Gardner in "24," were front and center for those scenes. 

Saving Waterfront

"Waterfront" star Joe Pantoliano said he’d at least like to be able to finish post-production on the five episodes of Waterfront that have already been shot and try to get them on the air. 

In addition, the Rhode Island Film & Television Office urged people to write CBS to Save Our Waterfront.