SoFla Producer Comes Home for Quirky Cop Drama

Detective Jim Longworth will soon find out what Florida residents and visitors have known for a long time: It's a weird place.

"The Glades," a police drama set to premiere 10 P.M. July 11 on A&E, follows a Chicago detective who relocates to South Florida, expecting to slide into a cushy job with plenty of time to hit the beaches and golf courses. But he quickly realizes that life isn't going to be as simple or as relaxing as he thought it would be.

Besides being set in South Florida, the show is filmed in the Fort Lauderdale area - most Florida-themed shows, like "CSI: Miami," are filmed primarily in California. The USA Network's "Burn Notice," which recently began shooting its fourth season in Miami, is the only other show filmed totally in Florida.

The Glades Preview

The Glades' creator and executive producer, Clifton Campbell, grew up near Miami and knew he couldn't capture South Florida's essence anywhere else.

"I've noticed a lot of shows that try to be set there without actually shooting there, and it's always sort of rankled me a little bit," Campbell said. "So I decided that I wanted to set a show there, not just in South Florida, but in my South Florida, the part of the world that I grew up in, that I think is just as stunningly attractive and interesting and weird and cool as South Beach."

Clifton's South Florida - for the purposes of the show - is the fictional town of Palm Glade. As a detective with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the show's protagonist covers an area that includes beautiful beaches and gator-infested swamps.

By filming in South Florida, Campbell said the environment will be like another character on the show. Soundstages were built in an industrial space in Pembroke Park, a Fort Lauderdale suburb, but Campbell said they generally shoot outside on location five days a week.

Campbell acknowledged that they probably could have faked Florida in California or somewhere else, but they wouldn't have been able to do nearly as much location shooting.

"I don't know if the entire world or country would notice the difference, but anyone who's been to Florida would know," Campbell said. "You could cheat it and get away with it. But that's what you would be doing, getting away with it."

Regardless of the setting, the show's success or failure could ultimately hang on how audiences respond to its lead, Matt Passmore.

As an Australian, Passmore said he's just as much a fish-out-of-water as Longworth.

"I'm an Aussie playing a Chicago cop who's down in Florida," Passmore said.

While hiring an outsider to play an outsider, producers have filled the cast with quite a few Floridians.

Carlos Gomez, a Cuban actor who grew up in Miami, has been working in television and film for more than two decades. Now he's playing a Cuban character named Carlos Sanchez, the medical examiner at the FDLE substation.

"It's Carlos playing Carlos," Gomez said. "It's really coming home. I've worked in Florida a few times doing different projects. ... Being in Florida, seeing the sights, I have family here, so I get to see them more often. It's really cool."

Nikki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, said she hopes "The Glades" can become Broward County's signature show, the same way "Burn Notice" captures Miami and South Beach.

"An exciting TV show is not necessarily going to come to the attention of corporate executives or meeting planners or travel advisers," Grossman said. "But it does heighten awareness of this destination, of greater Fort Lauderdale."


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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