THE BRIDGE: From street cop to TV producer

From street cop to TV producer
Interviewee: Craig Bromell
By: Joe Warmington
Date: March 3, 2010
Source: Toronto Sun


Note: This is an interview with CRAIG BROMELL, the Executive Producer on THE BRIDGE.


Craig Bromell always wore with honour his “made up” image of being a union thug with a badge.

However, a decade after “scaring” the hell out of some “targeted” Toronto politicians, the former Toronto Police Association boss-turned TV producer now says they were not being bugged back in the Year 2000 as many of them feared. It was, he said, nothing but theatrics.

“I was urged at the time to reveal we actually didn’t do that but we were having too much fun watching them jump around,” Bromell said Wednesday. “We were conning the cons.”

However he doesn’t deny having the “1-800 snitch line” for people to offer dirt on politicians. “You wouldn’t believe the stuff we had but we didn’t use it because it was all a bluff as part of our negotiations.”

It worked. They got their pay increase.

“Bully Bromell’s” scripted antics and continuous blurred blue line was the stuff of movies and those same politicians, who spent thousands of dollars looking for bugs in their offices, will be in front of their TVs on CTV Friday at 9 pm to watch this two-hour premier movie because “The Craig Bromell Show” continues in the form of a hot-looking new cop drama called The Bridge.

Back in the day, the show was reality as Bromell had gone from a tough street cop from 51 Division, where he led a wildcat strike, to an almost Jimmy Hoffa-style head the 7,000-member association as president. Later his reality show took to the air waves as firebrand talkshow host on AM 640.

Now 50, the cigar-smoking and scotch-drinking/devoted husband and father, not only called it as he saw it but always seemed to add a little extra vinegar to enhance the sting.

In both roles, you always knew what you would get. However as the curtain gets ready to be raised on his third act as a TV producer, a lot of people are curious ( nervous?) at just what and who they will see in The Bridge. There have been 13 episodes filmed — in Toronto — starring Aaron Douglas as union boss Frank Leo and Michael Murphy as Chief Wycoff who will duke it Fridays on CTV at 10 p.m.

“It’s a fictional series,” assured executive producer Bromell with a chuckle. “It’s not based on any specific person but on characters created by Gemini-winning writer Alan DeFiore.”

I guess we take him at his word as Bromell insisted the show, which will debut on CBS in the summer, is more of a compilation of characters and story lines based on his time at the head of the police union, of conflicts between the men and women in uniform in the street on any big city force and those wearing the white shirts and suits.

“It’s not always flattering,” Craig said from the very table at Bistro 990 on Bay St. where he both “ran the union” and created this new show on a napkin with co-producer Adam Shully. “In fact, it’s very disturbing. There is stuff you have never seen before. We couldn’t get permits for our car chases because they are actually at 100 miles an hour and there are beatings and arrests depicted the way these things really happen.”

“We broke every rule to get this done and took a lot of chances,” he added.

As former mayor Mel Lastman, former Police Services Board member Jeff Lyons or former police chiefs David Boothby or Julian Fantino will confirm, they’ve seen that kind of independence before.

“Enough is enough,” Lyons told the board Jan. 26, 2000. “I was also was intimidated . . . I also had my office swept to make sure there were no bugs there.”

There were no bugs! And, just like the Bromell-led bugging drama at City Hall 10 years ago, The Bridge, too, is nothing but fiction!

Don’t you just love show business!