Bromell and Bridge team get to work
By: Etan Vlessing
Date: April 24, 2009
It’s always fun to ride the crest of a perfect wave. Just ask Craig Bromell. The former Toronto cop’s story inspired The Bridge, the latest Canadian cop drama headed to CBS and CTV after Flashpoint.
“I told CBS I’ve got five cop shows in my head,” said Bromell when asked how he might top landing his first-ever TV show on a U.S. network.
But before Bromell, the outspoken insider on Toronto police politics, can talk more about becoming Canada’s answer to Joseph “Police Story” Wambaugh, his producer/partner Adam Shully taps a pile of scripts on his desk and interjects: “First we have to do this!”
And “this” means getting 11 episodes of the police procedural in the can between now and Aug. 12 to ride out this perfect wave with CBS and CTV and possibly get another.
“I know you’re typing as fast you can,” series producer Wendy Grean later tells showrunner Alan Di Fiore as they pass each other in the Toronto production office.
Di Fiore promises a finished script before nightfall as he disappears back into the writers’ room.
As befits a Canadian drama with high promise, everyone is under pressure to deliver. With much of the cast and crew, including director John Fawcett, migrating from the pilot to series, the first week of shooting in Toronto appears seamless. Still, the shoot will be mostly exteriors around the city until the interior sets are finished.
Creatively, The Bridge is no garden-variety cops and cons series. Here, the bad guys are often police brass and know-nothing politicians who prevent street cops from doing their job.
“The force will cut down a forest of good cops to get to the one bad cop,” Bromell says.
Each episode will feature police union head Frank Leo, played by Aaron Douglas, attempting to salvage a good cop’s career after he or she has bent or broken the rules to bust the bad guys. But making his own rules also lands Leo with powerful enemies in high places.
The Bridge is the latest Canadian cop drama to partner with one of the U.S. nets, which can no longer shoulder production costs for dramas on their own.
John Morayniss, president of E1 Television, which is producing The Bridge with Brass I Productions and 990 Multimedia Entertainment, says there’s a financial bonus for the Canadians too.
“The budget goes up, there’s more financing for the show. You have increased profile, advertising and marketing in the U.S. [from CBS] that trickles up to Canada,” he says.
Characters in The Bridge, including the police chief (Michael Murphy) and Crown attorney (Ona Grauer), are composites of people Bromell recalls from his 26 years as a cop, and from material Di Fiore stored up over 17 years researching and writing crime dramas like Da Vinci’s Inquest, The Handler, Vendetta and The Life.
But Di Fiore, Shully and Bromell — the series’ creative triumvirate — caution that The Bridge is no pro-cops show. There’re good and bad cops, otherwise the series wouldn’t be authentic.
Bromell knows he’ll take heat from fellow lawmen for not taking the secrets of their job to his grave.
“That’s the toughest part of this. How far do I go? I’ve struggled with that a lot. Some might not be happy with this. I may open too many closets. But to make it real, we have to show both sides,” he adds, reflecting on the risk that he could topple off this perfect wave instead of riding it out.
The Bridge is expected to launch this summer.