Police Story

Omar Caraballo's a cop -- and he'd like to play one on TV

Last year Caraballo created a public-service anti-drunk-driving campaign through his production company, Independent Productions and Filmworks. The theme was "Drink + Drive = Die," and featured a TV spot with frightening car-wreck footage. With Silvia Gonzalez's help, billboards and TV air time were donated and bumper stickers commissioned, all in time for the Christmas holiday season. Then, as often happens in Hialeah, politics intervened: Hialeah Police Chief Rolando Bolanos told Caraballo he couldn't run the campaign.

Gonzalez contends the move was initiated by Mayor Raul Martinez in retaliation for an open letter she had written for a city council candidate she worked for. Martinez says he knew nothing about the matter until he got an angry call from Mothers Against Drunk Driving after a Miami Herald story reported the cancellation. (Bola*os is recovering from surgery and wasn't available to comment.) Shortly after the campaign was aborted, Caraballo requested and received a transfer -- from the public information desk in the chief's office back to patrol.

"There's nothing like being a street cop," he says, seemingly determined to avoid politics like the plague.

But not acting. At the North Miami warehouse where he's waiting to audition, seasoned Hollywood character actor Alfie Weiss (his slightly squinty, chiseled visage might be familiar to Smokey and the Bandit fans), who has already been cast as the marshal's sidekick, shares a bag of pretzels and swaps carjacking stories with a statuesque blonde in army fatigues. The pilot is scheduled to be shot on location at a South Beach hotel -- where else? -- in a couple of days.

Director Kirton, an ebullient fortysomething man with a blond ponytail and a sunburn, saunters over to Caraballo and instructs him to read the part of the bartender. Four lines. The camera rolls and Caraballo begins: "So you're the monster, huh?" he says with a wry smile, focused intently on the wall in front of him. "I heard you could ruin somebody's day in a heartbeat." His light brown eyes, in a medium closeup, look tired, as if he has been washing glasses and mixing pina coladas all night.

"That's good," says Kirton. "Very good. I'll be able to use you for this, or you'll play a policeman part. You'll work Tuesday for sure."

As Caraballo and Gonzalez are departing, Kirton calls out to the actor. "We don't know who you are yet," the director says, "but you're one of the guys

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