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WATCH: That Time Leonard Cohen Was On ‘Miami Vice’

The late Leonard Cohen worked in many mediums – poetry, music, fiction – less remembered is his contribution to the realm of drama. And what a contribution it is!

Visitors to the new exhibit “A Crack in Everything” at the Jewish Museum will find, amid relics more germane to the artist’s ongoing influence in the worlds of music and literature, a reminder of Cohen’s guest spot on a 1986 episode of “Miami Vice.” Really.

In the episode “French Twist,” Cohen plays a heavy named Francois Zolan, the head of INTERPOL in France. The Montreal native gets to show off his French, conveying a rich baritone over the phone from a manse in Paris. His demands are simple: Kill French CIA agent Sirat Bandi whom he believes flipped to steal some medical-grade morphine in Miami.

Like most things touching Crockett and Tubbs, consuming the episode requires Lactaid for its sheer amount of cheese.

But Cohen transcends the gauzy cinematography and droning synth music. For one thing, the wardrobe department did him the favor of dressing him all in black – on-the-nose both for the artist, but also more timeless than the pastel-blazer-over-tee-shirt look for which “Miami Vice” is infamous. Plus, and this can’t be understated, Cohen has the benefit of being Leonard Cohen, and so, is just effortlessly cool in any context.

You can watch proof of Cohen’s appearance below. The short clip doesn’t explain why there’s an alligator involved in the episode, but honestly, isn’t it more fun not to know?

PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at [email protected].


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