‘Bridge’ not biography – Former union head says Canadian cop series fictional
By: Victoria Ahearn
Date: March 3, 2010
Interviewees: Craig Bromell, Aaron Douglas and Paul Popowich
TV: Former union head says Canadian cop series fictional
TORONTO – In the new cop series The Bridge, debuting Friday on CTV and CBS, Aaron Douglas plays a tough police officer turned union head battling top brass and an “old boys’ network” as he cleans up the force.
Though the storylines are inspired by the insights of outspoken former Toronto police union head Craig Bromell, the events and characters are purely fictional, he insists.
“My life with the union is very well documented – it’s in the public, there’s no way around it – so I wanted … a fictional side to this primarily because it’s an international story,” Bromell, an executive producer and adviser on the show, said in a recent interview.
“That’s what I was trying to get out more than anything is: ‘Yeah, I’ve lived a certain situation, I was quite prominent in law enforcement in this country, but these stories could happen anywhere.'”
Bromell became president of the Toronto Police Association in 1997 at age 37, after a lengthy career on the force. He left his post in 2003 and went on to do a radio show in the city.
Several years ago, when Bromell heard someone was writing an unauthorized book on him, he thought of the idea for the series. “I really wanted to try to set the record straight on what goes on behind the scenes of any police service anywhere in the world,” he said.
He joined forces with Adam J. Shully to form 990 Multi Media Entertainment, and asked five-time Gemini Award-winning writer Alan Di Fiore (Da Vinci’s Inquest) to write a drama that showed the personal side of law enforcement.
The series title is inspired by a bridge that separates two Toronto neighbourhoods – one wealthy and one low-income – that Bromell’s unit patrolled when he was an officer.
He also says some on the force were worried that the series would spill secrets. When the pilot was being shot for CTV in Toronto in 2008 (CTV later picked it up as a series, followed by CBS), Bromell says some of his friends were offered money (he wouldn’t say who made such offers) to visit the set and find out what revelations were in the plot.
“They were being offered large sums of money to come up to me and say, ‘Listen, what story did you use in there?'”
“It happened several times … I think the highest offer was three-thousand bucks.”
Douglas, a Vancouver native, signed on as the lead, Frank Leo, right after the conclusion of his last series, the heralded sci-fi drama Battlestar Galactica.
He said he was drawn to the script because it shows the “real gritty, grimy stuff” in law enforcement.
“So many of the cop shows are that real glorious, glamorous: cops run in and save the day and the bad guys lose.
“It’s so refreshing to have a real human drama. I’m coming off Battlestar which did for sci-fi kind of what I hope this show does for cop shows,” said Douglas.
Added Hamilton’s Paul Popowich, who plays Frank’s partner, Tommy Dunn: “We’re trying to capture what it is about the (police) experience, what it is about the day-to-day that hasn’t really been seen in other shows of the genre.”
The police force in the 13-part series isn’t set in a particular city.
From a procedural point of view, the show is authentic, but it does have a “Hollywood spin,” said Bromell.
Any comparisons between him and Frank Leo stop at their job title, he added.
“The crime reporters that covered me for six years might think there are some comparisons … but the truth of the matter is with my character, with all the other characters that are around Frank Leo, it’s just not there.”
An abbreviated version of this article appeared in the MetroNews on March 5th, 2010.
Photo credit: Jo (canadiangirl_86)