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Why IAB Lieutenant Sloan From Blue Bloods Looks So Familiar

One of the ways that "Blue Bloods" manages to feel so real is not just through its main cast, led by Tom Selleck as NYPD Commissioner Frank Reagan, but also through recurring characters. Numerous actors have jumped onto the series for guest spots, but many of them come back again and again when their characters are needed in the story. Kevin Dillon was one such actor, for instance, making two appearances as the always in-over-his-head brother-in-law of Detective Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg): The "Entourage" star appeared as Jimmy O'Shea the Season 7 episode "Hard Bargain" and then again in Season 8's "Close Calls."

The reappearance of supporting players who exist within the world of the Reagans helps sell a sense of authenticity that makes it possible for the drama to rack up such a whopping number of episodes. Another character who has made a handful of appearances across the show's run is Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) Lieutenant Sloan. As an Internal Affairs officer, she can often be at odds with the Reagans. In the Season 12 episode "Tangled Up in Blue," she finds herself investigating Officer Jamie Reagan (Will Estes) after he's found to be driving under the influence (he was drugged beforehand). 

Sloan has appeared in four episodes total and when she shows up, we know that there's probably trouble afoot for the Reagans. The character is likely familiar to most fans, but it's also just as likely that the actress, Ann Harada, is a familiar face outside of this particular role. 

Ann Harada played Linda in NBC's Smash

Ann Harada's early career in film and TV is mostly bit parts in some fairly well-known shows, like "Sex and the City," but at the time, the actress was mainly focused on theater. She is perhaps best known for originating the role of Christmas Eve in the Tony-winning Broadway musical "Avenue Q," for which she won the Outer Critics Circle Award for best ensemble and artistry in puppetry (per Broadway World). 

It's why her role on the two season run of "Smash" was perfectly suited for her. The show, which ran from 2012 to 2013, focused on New York City theater and the creation of a Broadway musical. Harada portrayed Linda, a stage manager in the show. Harada appeared in 18 of the show's 32 episodes. The series appeared to launch a bigger phase of Harada's career offstage and it was a perfectly-suited transition, as she revealed the role reunited her with numerous past theater co-stars. As she said in a February 2013 interview with Call Me Adam, "The thing I most enjoy about being on 'Smash' is hanging out with all the theatre people, both regulars and guests."

In a different interview, Harada revealed to NPR that she based her stage manager character partly on one she had interacted with during her early theater days, and she even needed to throw some knowledge at the "Smash" crew once, insisting her character would be wearing black being a stage tech, rather than yellow.

Ann Harada is in the musical series Schigadoon!

Another series perfectly suited for Ann Harada's talents is Apple TV+'s "Schmigadoon!" Harada portrays Florence Menlove, the doting wife of Mayor Aloysius Menlove (Alan Cumming), in the musical series, which debuted in 2021. 

The series gives Harada a chance to put her voice to work, like in the third episode of Season 1 ("Cross That Bridge") where she sings the tune "He's a Queer One, That Man O' Mine." In the series, her husband's homosexuality is an open secret to most. 

The show has given her the chance to work with some pretty massive talent, including director Barry Sonnenfeld and show leads Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong, as well as Cumming, a familiar face in musical theater himself (via Broadway World). The story of the show revolves around a couple (Michael Key and Strong) who mistakenly discover a bizarre world where everyone lives life like it's a classic musical. Because of her own musical background, Harada fits in well with the show's setting, and she's called it a love letter to musical theater, specifically for fans of musical theater.

"I don't think of it as just sending up musical theater. I think of it as a huge love letter to the musical theater. It's just fun to take a deep dive into it with other nerds who are going to get the jokes," she said in July 2021 (per TV Brittany F). 

Ann Harada played Shirley in Jerry and Marge Go Large

Ann Harada joined a star-studded cast in the 2022 Paramount+ original film "Jerry and Large Go Marge." Based on a true story, the David Frankel-directed movie follows an aging couple named Jerry (Bryan Cranston) and Marge (Annette Bening) who find a loophole in the lottery that allows them to quickly earn funds to start helping their struggling town make a comeback, as well as reignite their cooling marriage. Besides Cranston and Bening, the cast includes Michael McKean, Larry Wilmore, and Rainn Wilson, among others. 

Harada portrays Shirley, the bubbly wife of Howard (McKean), both friends with Jerry and Marge as they move from nights filled with "Jeopardy!" and couples card games to embarking on their lottery "scam." Harada puts her comic skills to good use in the flick plenty of times, including in the first act when she recommends the recently-retired Jerry take up real estate like her husband. "It's like having a job, but it's also like being retired because you don't do anything," Shirley says, Harada summoning up a signature dry humor style she's deployed before. 

The film wasn't a smash hit, but it did receive mostly positive notices from both critics and audiences (per Rotten Tomatoes).