Queen Latifah ‘stoked’ to land post-Super Bowl slot

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Queen Latifah thrives on going big. From writing and rapping at the start of her career to being an Oscar-nominated actress to producing, she has upended expectations for years.

Her latest chapter comes in the new CBS series The Equalizer as the first Black woman to portray the role in the franchise.

The show debuts February 7 in the coveted timeslot following the Super Bowl, typically the year’s most-watched programme. The series settles into its regular Sunday night slot on February 14.

The American football game offers the potential of a huge lead-in audience to introduce Latifah as Robyn McCall, an ex-CIA officer who uses her skills to defend those who can’t help themselves while pursuing her own redemption. Her co-stars include Chris Noth, Lorraine Toussaint and Adam Goldberg.

The post-Super Bowl slot has provided monstrous ratings over the years for shows like Friends, Survivor and Undercover Boss.

“I’m so stoked that we’re coming on after the Super Bowl,” Latifah said on Wednesday on a video call. “It was a great boost for our crew that has been working really hard under difficult conditions. It just gave us all a boost around here and made us go even harder and work even harder.”

Latifah is getting her licks and kicks in on three sets built inside Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey, her home state. The arena where fellow Jerseyites Bruce Springsteen and Frank Sinatra, as well as the NBA and NHL, once played closed in 2015 after nearly 40 years. Tax credits from the state have helped lure TV and film projects to the sprawling site.

“We’re across the street from Giants Stadium, for cryin’ out loud,” said Latifah, a self-proclaimed “huge” football fan.

The crime drama is being re-imagined, following the original series from the 1980s with a white man (Edward Woodward) in the title role. That show spawned films in 2014 and 2018 starring Oscar winner Denzel Washington.