Today’s cuppa: Breakfast blend coffee, mmmm, smooth …

Here’s the full text of my feature story from this week on the new CBS police drama …

The_Bridge_Aaron_Douglas_1.jpgBeing a
police officer may be a calling for some, but it is also a job — a union job.
And where there are unions, there are the bosses and the rank and file; there
are negotiations and disputes and sometimes a strike.

 

And there
is always a police officer whose extra job it is to stand in the middle of all
that, to bridge the gap between the officers and the men, between the police
and the people, and between the police and one another.

 

With a
two-hour episode on Saturday, July 10, CBS premieres the Canadian-produced
drama “The Bridge,” loosely based on the life of Toronto
radio personality Craig Bromell, who also used to be head of the Toronto police union from
1997 to 2003 and is an executive producer on the show.

 

Battlestar
Galactica”
star Aaron Douglas plays Frank Leo, a tough and dedicated officer in
a big-city police force who is voted in to head his union. To serve the 8,000
officers under his care, he must battle street criminals, corruption in the
ranks and his own bosses, the so-called “brass wall.”

 

Also
starring are Paul Popowich, Frank Cassini, Inga Cadranel, Ona Grauer, Theresa Joy and
Michael Murphy.

 

“The
question is,” says executive producer Alan Di Fiore (“Da Vinci’s Inquest”), “the
moral ambiguity of the show is, how far will he go? He ends up quite often
crossing the line, dealing with a bad cop on his own terms, so it doesn’t hurt
the department. Because to hurt the department means that the funding is going
to get cut, that they’re going to have problems with the mayor, with money.

 

“I knew so
many cops that when I met Craig, it wasn’t a big surprise to me. I got him
right away. I understood where he was coming from. The idea was to present that
world differently than anybody had ever seen it before. The fact that Craig had
become head of the police union — that’s where the comparison ends. He’s not
Frank Leo.”

 

And Frank
Leo is not Chief Galen Tyrol, the character Douglas
played on “Battlestar,” but there are similarities between the street-wise cop
and the tough, resourceful chief.

 

“It’s
funny,” Douglas says, “it’s very, very similar to the chief in many respects —
blue-collar guy, he’s there for the working man, he’s going to do his best and
is very loyal and very honest, just tries to make life a little bit better for
those around him. And he will go to the wall for the people that he believes
in.

 

“I like the
fact that Frank’s a real guy. He’s flawed, just like people in life are. He’s
doing the
The_Bridge_Aaron_Douglas_2.JPG best he can with the tools that he has. He makes mistakes, and he
owns up to them. But he does the best that he can. He leads by example, and he
leads with his words. People rely on him and need him.

 

“He will do
whatever he needs to do to make a better environment for the people around him,
and particularly the people who don’t have the ability or the power to do it
for themselves.”

 

For his
part, Di Fiore had no doubt about his pick to play Frank.

 

“I kept
telling everybody, ‘Look, I don’t want a traditional pretty boy. I want
somebody who has some character in his face,” Di Fiore says. “I want somebody
who looks like a young Gandolfini – better-looking than that. I wanted somebody
with some power behind them.

 

“Finally,
we found Aaron, and I was just over the moon. As soon as we got him, I said,
‘We have to have this guy.’ He’s exactly who I pictured in this part, somebody
you could believe was actually a cop on the street.”

 

That means Douglas is again wearing a uniform. As to whether he
prefers his police blues or his “Battlestar” flight suit and orange work
jumpsuit, Douglas says, “Oh, ‘Battlestar
Galactica,’ by far. I know if the fans had their druthers, they would rather
see me walking around in an orange jumpsuit than a cop’s uniform.”

 

He’s also
learning to cope with wearing a gun belt, a radio and all the other
accoutrements of a street cop.

 

“They hang
a lot of stuff on your belt,” he says, “put it over your shoulders. It’s not
just getting dressed and walking on the set; you’ve got 10 minutes with the prop
guys.”

 

“The
Bridge” has already started airing in Canada,
and Douglas is beginning to experience what
it’s like to have fame beyond “Battlestar.”

 

“In Canada,”
he says, “when I do [get recognized], people point and wave and say, ‘Hi,
Frank!’ It’s weird. I’m so used to people yelling ‘Chief!’ across the street. I
don’t know whether to respond or whether they’re talking to the guy with the
beard behind me.”