The Martin Luther King High School Marching Band from Riverside, Calif., played costar to Academy Award-winning actress Kathy Bates in the April 29 episode of “Harry’s Law” on NBC.
Titled “And the Band Played On,” the episode is a rippedfrom- the-headlines story loosely based on the hazing and death of drum major Robert D. Champion, Jr. at Florida A&M University last year. The Kingsmen play an all-male college marching band charged with murder and defended by Bates’ character.
“The episode deals with hazing, and the court scenes had to deal with the students who were on trial,” says Charles Gray, King band director.
Despite the sensitive material, Gray had no doubts about his band appearing on the show, created by David E. Kelley. “It was an important subject matter to deal with, and I liked the way David E. Kelley wrote it,” Gray says.
Ten students appeared in the courtroom scene and 60 for the gymnasium scene, where they performed some simple drills and fight songs. The students were chosen based on seniority and GPA since they had to miss class.
“They had a great time meeting Kathy Bates and the actors,” Gray says.
Over the years, the band has filmed several other projects, including TV shows, commercials and movies such as the 2010 film “Valentine’s Day.”
“Harry’s Law” gave the band a monetary donation, which it will use for music, instrument repair and transportation.