Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bruckheimer goes to cable for Dark Blue

PASADENA, Calif. -- Contrary to rumour, Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of such edifying film entertainment as Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure, The Rock, Black Hawk Down, Beverly Hills Cop and Con Air is not accompanied wherever he goes by his very own personalized thunder-and-lightning storm -- though his studio logo does feature a stylized streak of lightning.

He's positively soft-spoken, in fact.

And when asked what he can do on the cable channel TNT with his new undercover-cop show Dark Blue that he can't do on, say, CBS, the stately -- and staid -- broadcast network that's home to his TV hits CSI, Cold Case and Without a Trace, Bruckheimer will offer only a tepid: "Well, I think (Dark Blue) is, you know, a real hard-hitting show. It's a tough show.

"And we love the people at TNT. They're terrific to us. So it's really a pleasure to be working with them."

Leaving aside the irony of Bruckheimer -- the godfather behind such quiet-sounding movie hits as Pearl Harbor, Top Gun and Armageddon -- making a TV drama series for a cable channel called TNT, the truth is that no one has their finger more on the pulse of what the North American public wants to see, in its movie theatres and on its TV screens.

And when the conversation turns toward popular entertainment -- what the mass audience wants to see, as opposed to the art house crowd -- Bruckheimer warms to his subject.

"Audiences just want to see good entertainment, whether it's a lighter show or a darker show. Especially in tough economic times, they want to lose themselves for an hour, or a half-hour.

"If we can make them laugh, that's one way. If we can involve them in a really interesting drama, that's another way. But it's all about entertainment. We love to laugh. We love great dramas. That isn't an on-and-off thing: It's always. If you look at the New York Times bestseller list, you'll see that the majority of bestsellers are murder mysteries, or something along those lines. Ever since the dime novels, and even before that, the public loves great mysteries."

Hit-making is an inexact science, Bruckheimer insists. "I never know what's going to be a hit."

One thing Bruckheimer does know is that audiences seem to respond well to characters who are tough to get a read on at first.

"You watch a movie like Serpico and you see where these police officers go undercover and they can't quite tell if they're the criminal or the good guy. Those kind of lives have always intrigued me, and I think they intrigue the public, too.

When Bruckheimer weighs a new TV show, he asks himself if it's a show he himself wants to see every week.

"I don't know what other people like to watch, but I know what I like to watch. That's my gauge for what we do. If I love the characters, if I love the storylines, I'm in."

Dark Blue is coming soon to a TV screen near you, on Citytv.

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