TCA 2012: 'Copper' EPs and Cast Tout BBC America's Big Budget Scripted Original

Copper Panel TCA Tour BBC - H 2012
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Copper Panel TCA Tour BBC - H 2012

BBC America launches its first original scripted production later in the month, and as promotions for the period drama ramp up, executive producers Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana joined the cast on stage at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.

Among the questions for the group was the unique setting for the series, 1864 New York City -- an outwardly odd choice for a cable network that has thus far emphasized British imports.

"This show ultimately isn't about New York, it's about anyplace anybody lives," said Fontana, also the co-creator and showrunner. "What greater example of division was there than the Civil War?"

The immigrant story -- Copper's lead, played by Tom Weston Jones, is an Irish-born police officer living in tumultuous Five Points, Manhattan -- is what network GM Perry Simon said clicked with the BBC America.

"The challenge of it was to build Five Points, which was an enormous set built up in Toronto," said Fontana. "A lot of these places, like the bordello, where you can see the inside and the outside are all connected."

As a writer, Fontana, who also created Oz, expressed a sincere pleasure in the 19th century setting.

"I'm just happy we're writing and producing a series where there are no cellphones," he said.