The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 24, 2021 1:00 am

Epix flick dips into 1980s nostalgia

Jay Bobbin | Zap2it

Having built his filmmaking career on stories of young friends' lives and loves, Edward Burns comes full-circle with his new series.

The writer-producer-director-actor established himself with the movies “The Brothers McMullen” and “She's the One,” and many of their themes remain as Epix premieres the seriocomic, 1980s-set “Bridge and Tunnel” today. Burns also appears as the working-class father of Jimmy (Sam Vartholomeos), who enjoys what may be his last days with Long Island, New York, friends including his ex-flame Jill (Caitlin Stasey, “Reign”) before he begins law school. The central ensemble also includes Brian Muller, Isabella Farrell, Jan Luis Castellanos and Gigi Zumbado.

Making “Bridge and Tunnel” for Epix reunites Burns with Michael Wright, the programming executive who ordered his previous series “Public Morals” while at TNT. “We went out to dinner and were talking about shows we were watching with our wives,” Burns says, “and a lot of them were really dark and depressing and cynical. He said, 'Why don't we do a show like your first couple of movies, that will put a smile on your face? I think that's what viewers need right now.'

“Those films were life-affirming while also dramatic,” Burns continued, “and now, here are these kids making their way into Manhattan to make their dreams come true.”

Setting the show in the '80s wasn't random for Burns, who reflects, “There are those eras you look back on and wish you could have lived then. Being 12 years old in 1980, I looked at the older kids on my block and just idolized them. The girls were gorgeous and the guys were cool, so I've always been obsessed with New York at that time.”

Reaching back to a period before people were wedded to mobile devices also appealed to Burns, also known for acting in such movies as “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Holiday.” He notes, “Sitting on your front stoop having a couple of beers, or having a backyard barbecue, or hanging out on the hood of your car in a parking lot ... those were some of your best times, so this is to remind people that those one-on-one moments of communication used to be enough.”

The soundtrack is infused with original versions of 1980s hits by acts from Styx to Al Stewart, and Burns says those weren't cheap to license. “Almost any time I was on my third cut and I threw in a track, it was like, 'I love that song! What's it gonna cost?' We were able to dip into the late '70s for a lot of the stuff, so it's been fun to have that, as well as some deeper rock cuts.”

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