New York native Ed Burns is known to set his films in New York City, like ‘The Brothers McMullen’ and ‘The Sidewalks of New York.’ Now, the multi-talented entertainer is bringing a New York City-inspired dramedy to television with the series ‘Bridge and Tunnel.’
Burns took a time machine to his childhood stomping grounds in Long Island for the series he sets in 1980. He wrote, directed and stars in the series where a group of recent college graduates has dreams of making it big in New York City. Burns told NY1’s George Whipple he knows ‘Bridge and Tunnel’ was a derisive term.
“This story is set in 1980. I didn't really come to New York City to live until 1991, but I can remember me and my friends showing up at certain clubs on a Saturday night and the bouncer is saying to us 'Sorry, guys, no B and T tonight,’” Burns explained. “But you know what, I look at it as kind of a badge of honor. So many bridge and tunnel folks look to New York City as sort of the place to go to fulfill your dreams, right? You know, like the great F. Scott Fitzgerald line from Gatsby; he's coming across the 59th Street Bridge, the city held such wild promise. And, I think, for so many folks who grew up in the outer boroughs, that’s what the city represented."
Burns set his series in the 1980s, a time when there was a creative shift with music, fashion and art.
“I was 12 years old in 1980, and that version of New York in the late 70s, into the 80s, with the birth of punk and new wave and hip hop and the fashion scene and the art scene; I probably over-romanticize what it would have been like to live in New York at that time. I wanted to create characters that were going to dip into that scene in New York,” said Burns.
But like most entertainers, Burns had to adjust his plans because of the pandemic.
“Twenty-percent of our budget to the COVID protocols, testing and everything else. I had to cut it down to six episodes, and I had to get rid of everything that took place in Manhattan because you couldn't get permits to shoot in the city,” Burns said.
Actors Sam Theolomeos and Caitlin Stasey star as two of the recent Long Island college grads. Stasey told Whipple what it was like shooting during the pandemic.
“It felt like a weird science fiction film. Everybody who was near us had to be basically in a HAZMAT suit. Everyone on set was under so much physical pressure because everything, like all of their faculties were hard because they had to wear masks and gloves and stay six feet away from the cast. And that's just not usually how sets function. They're very communal,” Stasey said.
Theolomeos told Whipple he enjoyed going back in time.
“You don't see a cell phone, you don't see a mask, you don't see a lot of the things in our daily lives. So it was it was super refreshing. I feel like there's been a resurgence of 80s and 90s culture and being able to live in that was was just really cool. For me, it was the cars. I really liked the cars,” Theolomeos said.
‘Bridge and Tunnel’ is on EPIX with new episodes on Sundays.