‘The Bridge’ is all about walls and snake pits
Interviewee: Craig Bromell and Alan Di Fiore
By: Brian Gorman
Date: March 16, 2010
Source: The Lindsay Post
Note: This is an interview with CRAIG BROMELL, the Executive Producer and ALAN DI FIORE, one of the writers on THE BRIDGE.
“The Bridge” is one cop show that’s as much about bad management as bad guys.
The series, airing Fridays on CTV, blends the procedural drama of police work with some brand-new material: the behind-the-scenes politics of a big-city police force.
The character at the center, Frank Leo (Aaron Douglas, “Battlestar Galactica”), is a blue-collar street cop and the head of the police union in a large North American city.
And Craig Bromell, the co-creator and executive producer of the show, knows a little bit about both. He’s a former cop and one-time head of the Toronto police union.
“The head of the police union is up against the politics and the politicians, and the brass, and the media,” he says. “You’re never dealing with that cop saving people.”
“Bridge” co-creator and writer Alan Di Fiore interrupts: “In a big city, you’re dealing with 3,000 calls every day, and 10 percent of those calls are going to result in an officer in trouble for some reason or other. And that can be as simple as failing to follow procedure.”
“Part of the series is about the idea of how far Frank Leo will go to protect a cop, and how far will he cross the line to get the job done, to fulfill the police contract with society.”
The series co-stars Paul Popowich, Inga Cadranel, Frank Cassini, Theresa Joy and Ona Grauer.
It also features Michael Murphy (“This Is Wonderland”) as police chief Ed Wycoff, a coldblooded operator who would just as happily destroy Leo as use him for political gain.
“When Alan created this character, and I looked at it for the first time, I could easily picture five or six different police chiefs,” Bromell says. “It’s a fascinating character, and I think a lot of chiefs are going to look at him and go, ‘That’s so-and-so.’ “
There’s a fair amount of moral ambiguity in the series, and the cops certainly aren’t portrayed as white knights. One female officer tends to lean a little toward the use of unnecessary force — especially if she wants to get off shift in time.
Another is living in his car because his wife threw him out.
And at the center of the two-hour pilot episode was a cop who led a band of freelance thugs dressed as cops on missions to rip off drug dealers.
One constant is the band of “white shirts,” the top brass, who usually seem to be more interested in doing what will advance their careers than in backing their officers or fighting crime.
“Most cops just want to do their job,” Bromell says. “Just let us go and catch the bad guys. But there’s a lot of interference, just for political gain, usually from the brass down, and from the civilian oversight.”
“Once you have politicians involved, or once someone becomes a politician, like a chief or a deputy, it’s all personal: ‘How do I look?’ ‘How am I going to survive this?’
“It’s not ‘we’ anymore. It’s ‘I.’ And it causes a lot of problems in the major cities.”
From 1997 to 2003, Bromell was head of the Toronto Police Association, which put him in conflict with the chiefs of police.
Like Frank Leo, he came to prominence by leading a wildcat strike in his division,
And like Leo, Bromell worked in a division that spanned a rich and privileged neighborhood and a poor, crime-ridden one, connected by a bridge.
“The inner workings of a police union only deal with negativity,” Bromell says. “We never dealt with the hero cop. When I ran the union here — or the guys who are running it in any major city in the world — it’s all negativity.”
“It’s when the cop is in trouble, whether it’s justified or not. We were always trying to improve a situation that was really bad.”
Bromell says he didn’t want the show to be autobiographical. So when they started work on it, he asked Di Fiore to “go off and create the characters and create the incidents.”
“And he was able to get pretty well what I wanted, but he made it all up.”
Di Fiore has done a lot of TV about cops. In addition to doing scripts for “Da Vinci’s Inquest” and “The Handler,” he wrote the TV movie “The Life,” about Vancouver drug cops.
“I’ve ridden with a lot of cops, and I know a lot about cops,” he says. “So stuff that Craig talked about resonated immediately with me, because I had heard this from other police officers over the years.”
“Police officers are faced with two battles. Not only do they have to battle the guys on the street, but they have to battle their own brass to do what they need to do.”
“So we have this unwritten law in society: Do whatever you can to protect us, but if you have to break the law to do it, don’t let us catch you at it.”