February 20, 2009 / 8:49 PM / in 9 years

CBS builds "Bridge" with Canadian network

OTTAWA/LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - CBS on Thursday signed a deal to co-produce its second cop drama with Canadian network CTV, which last year brought it “Flashpoint” during the Hollywood writers’s strike.

“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.

The show was created by former police officer Craig Bromell and written by Alan Di Fiore, who was a story consultant on the 1998-2005 Canadian crime series “Da Vinci’s Inquest.”

Bromell said “The Bridge,” a twist on the cops-and-cons procedural, takes viewers behind police lines to where ordinary officers are forced to combat the corruption and skulduggery of the 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 a shot on Friday nights this season. It had a solid run, typically winning its time period.

As international co-productions, “Flashpoint” and “Bridge” are affordable hourlong dramas and, to be cost-effective, don’t 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” -- which also is set in Toronto -- an additional product rather than a potential companion series or substitute.

“We’re certainly going to evaluate it independently of ‘Flashpoint,'” Tellem 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.

(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)

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