Series Reteams Academy Award Winner Barry Levinson and Emmy Award Winner Tom Fontana

Academy Award-winning director Barry Levinson and Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Tom Fontana -- the creative duo who guided the critically acclaimed drama series "Homicide: Life on the Street" -- return to the police genre with "The Beat", a realistic drama series from Viacom Productions that aired on UPN.

Levinson, who in 1988 received the Oscar for Best Director ("Rain Main"), directed the series' opening episode (as he did with the pilot of "Homicide", winning an Emmy in 1993). The episode was written by Fontana (a three-time Emmy winner for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series for "Homicide" and "St. Elsewhere"). Levinson, Fontana and Jim Finnerty are the executive producers and Julie Martin ("Homicide") is the co-executive producer for the series, which is produced by The Levinson/Fontana Company in association with Viacom Productions.

"The Beat" delves into the personal and professional lives of two young police recruits who patrol New York's streets. The city's daily machinations are seen through the often bloodshot eyes of Officers Mike Dorigan (Derek Cecil) and Zane Marinelli (Mark Rauffalo, "Studio 54"), two youthful, irreverent partners who are truly products of their generation and unique urban environment. Issues of race, excessive police force -- and the unpredictable quirkiness of New York's outspoken locals -- compel both men to rely on their sense of humor just to make it to the end of their shift.

Friends in and out of uniform, Dorigan is more earnest and even considers marrying his girlfriend, Elizabeth (Poppy Montgomery, "Relativity"), while the impulsive, trouble-prone Marinelli treasures his '69 Fender Telecaster guitar and chides his cohort for playing it too safe with life's road rules. When they're not riffing on each other's troubled relationships with psychotic women, fear of commitment or unusual hangover remedies, Dorigan and Marinelli rely on their instincts to compensate for their inexperience, determined not to let the relentless demands of "The Beat" be a downbeat note in their zest for life.

The heart of the series is best described by series creators and executive producers Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana:

"Exploring personalities and behavior and character is what I think is interesting. The fact that they have to wear a uniform is only one part of it." -- Levinson

"My hope is that the series takes the best of 'Homicide' and 'Oz', but pushes the storytelling and style one step further. I think for the audience, the show will be a great ride." -- Fontana