'Homeland' Exec Producer Henry Bromell Remembered by UTA Agent, 'Homicide' Co-Creator

Henry Bromell - P 2012
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Henry Bromell - P 2012

"He was at the top of his game," says Tom Fontana of the veteran TV writer and producer, who died March 18.

This story first appeared in the April 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.


His longtime agent Jay Sures remembers the writer and executive producer of Homeland, Northern Exposure and Homicide: Life on the Street, who died March 18.

About 20 years ago, when I was a newly promoted agent at UTA, I went to [agency co-founder] Peter Benedek because I wanted to sign Henry, but I knew I was too young an agent to sign him myself and he and Peter had been friends for at least 10 years. So we called him together, and we signed him over lunch. In Peter and me, Henry knew he would get a seasoned veteran and a young pit bull, and he liked the concept of both. What Henry would give me, which I didn't realize at the time, was an enormous amount of credibility because he was an icon, and I could say, "Hey, I represent Henry Bromell." He also would become one of the oldest active executive producer/writers in the drama business. To be as prolific as he was at 65 is a testament to who he was: a writer's writer.

STORY: 'Homeland' Writer-Producer Henry Bromell Dies of Heart Attack

One of the things I loved talking about with Henry was his dad, who had been a CIA station chief. He'd tell stories about the crazy stuff his dad was involved in during the '50s and '60s, saying how proud he was of what his father had accomplished. Then Henry came full circle by writing for a show about CIA officers, which allowed him to memorialize his dad and, at the same time, create a legacy for himself as this brilliant writer.

Like me, Henry had gotten remarried. He was head over heels about his wife, Sarah, and his 4-year-old son, Jake. In fact, if you were to ask him what he would want his legacy to be, he would say, "To be known as a great dad to my boys [Jake and older son William] and a terrific husband to Sarah." Writing would come next, but not the other way around. No way.


Tom Fontana, executive producer of Homicide, as well as Oz, Copper and Borgia, remembers Bromell:

I had to convince writers to move to Baltimore for Homicide: Life on the Street, and Henry quite happily came to live there with Trish, his wife at the time, and son Willie, as he was then called. We lived next door to each other, so I got to know Henry not just as a writer and producer but also as a family man. He had this ability to nurture in this very gentle way, but also he could be a disciplinarian.
When our writers Julie Martin, Jimmy Yoshimura and Jorge Zamacona had finished the scenes that they needed to do on the show, they would disappear from the office. I was up in New York editing on one particular day, but I’m reminded of how Henry needed one of them for whatever reason and he finally found them in a bar. He was outraged that they had wandered off on their own, and in the middle of the work day, and he decided that he’d restrict them from going out unchaperoned from then on. [Laughs] So over the course of the show, I think he ended up spending more time in the bar with them than they ended up spending time in the office. It always makes me laugh because Henry liked an ordered universe, and when the universe was not in order he tried very hard to fix it -- but when it came to our writers, it was a little more difficult.
Willie, like Jake, was and is the center of his life, and he's turned into an outstanding young man and a wonderful writer. In fact, I just hired Will to do an episode of my series, Borgia, which we did behind Henry’s back. After Will had finished the drafts, I called Henry and said: "OK, your son is very talented. You should be very happy." You can imagine how proud he was.
We’re all incredibly sad that Henry has left us, but his timing is great in the sense that he was at the top of his game and his family is thriving. Not that he chose this moment to go; but if you’re going to go, it’s a great way to write an exit.