There’s a scene in episode five of his upcoming Epix dramedy “Bridge and Tunnel” in which, from the point of view of his 12-year-old self, actor, director, producer and writer Ed Burns is looking out the window of his Gibson childhood home, watching the college-aged kids in the neighborhood schmooze and booze on a nearby street corner. It's 1980.
“They’re smoking and drinking and hanging out on their cars under the streetlight,” the Valley Stream native said. “From my window I could look down and watch them.”
The lives of the 20-somethings he so often romanticized as a child in Valley Stream in the late 1970s and 80s, Burns said, served as at least a partial inspiration for the characters of his show, which had scenes filmed in the neighborhood, as well as in Lynbrook and East Rockaway, and is set to air on Jan. 24.
“Everybody hung out on the block and I looked at all the older kids, the older guys and girls, as sort of the coolest kids you could ever meet,” he said. “When they’re all dolled up heading to the train station on a Saturday night to go out; I’m imagining to CBGBs or Studio 54, they just look so cool. Or when they’re working on their muscle cars drinking beers on a Saturday afternoon. You want to be those guys.”
Burns, 52, grew up on the corner of Marlboro and Page roads — less than two blocks away from the Gibson train station — and it was the allure of Manhattan, just a short train-ride away, that has long had a big influence in his 25 years of film and television-making.
That allure is a major presence in “Bridge and Tunnel” as its ensemble cast of fresh college graduates grapple with the tension between their dreams of making it in the big city and the pull of their childhood homes on suburban Long Island.
The show was filmed throughout October at iconic spots such as Larry’s Pub and Walt Itgen’s Ice Cream Parlour on Rockaway Avenue, Bay Park in East Rockaway and at a few homes in Lynbrook.
Burns said pandemic restrictions meant cast and crew had to keep their distance from residents and local business owners, but that he looked forward to returning to the neighborhood for future seasons.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to come back for season two and shake some hand hands with people and take some pictures, and all those things we couldn’t do this time around,” he said.