CBS builds 'Bridge' with CTV

1:20 PM PST 02/19/2009 by Etan Vlessing, James Hibberd

Companies co-producing Canadian police drama

CBS on Thursday signed a deal to co-produce its second cop drama with CTV after the Canadian network last year brought it "Flashpoint" during the WGA strike.

"The Bridge," from E1 Entertainment and 990 Multi Media Entertainment, was created by former police officer Craig Bromell and written by Alan Di Fiore ("Da Vinci's Inquest).

"The Bridge" portrays cops battling criminals on the streets and their bosses and know-nothing politicians in the corridors of power. The series stars Aaron Douglas ("Battlestar Galactica") as a police union head who locks horns with the police brass in an attempt to combat corruption.

Bromell said the Canadian series, a twist on the cops-and-cons procedural, takes viewers behind police lines to where ordinary officers are forced to combat corruption and skullduggery by their top brass and politicians when they're not patrolling the streets.

CBS launched "Flashpoint" as a summer series last year and its ratings' resilience proved impressive enough for the network to give the show at shot on Friday nights this season. It had a solid run, typically winning its time period.

Doing "Flashpoint" and "Bridge" as international co-productions has allowed CBS to have an affordable hourlong that does not require quite as high of a rating as a domestically produced show. But Nancy Tellem, president of CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group, said such methods shouldn't be mistaken for a creative compromise.

"It's not only a great financial model, but the model only works well when it creatively makes a lot of sense," Tellem said. "When you look at the ratings we get on other shows. I don't think there's a big disparity."

"Flashpoint" has started production on its second season, and CBS said it considers "Bridge" an additional product rather than a potential companion series or substitute.

"We're certainly going to evaluate it independently of 'Flashpoint,' " she said.

Recently, Fox launched a challenge to CBS' Friday night drama superiority with a drama block of its own fronted by "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," which performed modestly, and "Dollhouse," which opened to a fair number.

"We were certainly curious how 'Dollhouse' ended up on Friday, but we've certainly been pleased with how our performance did relative to their premiere," Tellem said.

The Canadian cast includes Paul Popowich as Frank's partner and confidante, Inga Cadranel, Frank Cassini, Michael Murphy ("Away From Her") and Stuart Margolin ("The Rockford Files").

"The Bridge" is the second series greenlighted by Tellem from CTV senior program executives Ivan Fecan and Susanne Boyce, who developed "Flashpoint" before the series was produced by Toronto-based Pink Sky Entertainment and Avamar Entertainment.

"We look forward to working with our creative partners at CBS, Nancy Tellem, Nina Tassler and David Stapf, in bringing yet another great Canadian production to a North American audience," said Susanne Boyce, president of creative, content and channels for CTV.

As with "Flashpoint," "Bridge" was in development for four years before CTV ordered a two-hour TV movie for itself. It then helped shop the series to CBS. Both series are set in Toronto.

Bromell and Di Fiore collaborated on the two-hour pilot for CTV and will exec produce the first season of 11 one-hours along with Laszlo Barna, Adam J. Shully and Robert Wertheimer. John Fawcett ("The Border") will direct.

Etan Vlessing reported from Ottawa; James Hibberd reported from Los Angeles.
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