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Big names sign on for Alex’s new sitcom

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Where everybody will know your name: Bermudian screenwriter Alex Scrymgeour, centre, with the cast of his new comedy Eddie’s (Photograph supplied)

Eddie’s Bar & Grille in Venice Beach, California might be 3,000 miles from Bermuda, but there’s a decided Bermuda flavour running through the place.

A Bermuda flag hangs in the corner of the watering hole, and at least one of the patrons drinks Dark ‘n Stormys, exclusively.

The bar is the fictional setting for Bermudian filmmaker Alex Scrymgeour’s new sitcom Eddie’s, about a bar owner Eddie who fends off real estate developers while keeping his customers happy.

“The show contains several Bermuda Easter eggs,” Mr Scrymgeour said. “As a Bermudian, it was important for me to have some nods to my island home such as the Bermuda flag as part of the bar’s decor.”

He received permission from Goslings to use the iconic Bermuda cocktail.

Bermuda is never directly mentioned in the pilot, but Mr Scrymgeour said it might be if the show is developed further.

He’s currently looking for a broadcaster to pick up the show and has his eye on Amazon Prime.

“They have a great distribution model,” he said.

Mr Scrymgeour wrote the part of Eddie specifically for his friend, actor Eddie McGee, one of the first winners of the reality show Big Brother in 2000. The two acted in the Spanish film Renko in 2013.

“In 2014, I visited him at a beach bar in Santa Monica, California called Big Dean’s,” Mr Scrymgeour said. “He was working the door there as a bouncer, and was the first point of contact for anyone coming in, and for dealing with any unruly customers.

“His general disposition and how he handled clientele was very friendly and the customers reacted very positively.

“Everyone knew who he was and everyone had a story and a smile to share with Eddie. I said to him, hey Eddie, what if Big Dean’s was yours in a situation comedy?”

Mr McGee liked the idea. Mr Scrymgeour went as far as fleshing out the characters in his imagined television show, but got distracted by other projects.

Then last October his wife Julie, gently reminded him of Eddie’s.

“She said it was one of her favourite projects of mine,” he said. “I talked to Eddie about it. He is a great actor, and I started developing the story.”

For the project, Mr Scrymgeour enlisted Tony Prado, of ABC’s show Greek, as producer. He connected Mr Scrymgeour with director Michael Lange, also from Greek.

“Michael really loved the story, script and characters and signed on,” Mr Scrymgeour said. “Michael has over 30 years television directing experience and was the perfect person to direct Eddie’s.

“The level of professionalism and experience he brought to Eddie’s can’t be understated. Working with him was an honour.

“Afterward, he said: this is a funny show. Your heart is in the right place with this show. ”

Mr Scrymgeour was also thrilled to have George Wendt, who played Norm in the old hit show Cheers, in the cast as a sea captain. He grew up watching Cheers.

“I was there in Boston the final night of the show,” he said. “I was a big fan. I would say that Eddie’s is a modern version of Cheers.

“It has a nice undertone. The tag line is: Every hour is happy hour and everyone is welcome.”

Mr Scrymgeour’s aim was to produce something with a positive message.

“It’s a wholesome family funny show,” he said. “There’s no foul language.

“I was so sick of seeing these shows on TV celebrating mean people doing mean things.”

Mr Scrymgeour grew up in Bermuda and attended Saltus Grammar School before going on to boarding school in the United States.

“I am proud to be Bermudian as Bermudians are respectful, well mannered, cultured, helpful and care about one another,” he said. “Wherever I go around the world I am always cognizant of the fact that I represent my island home and do my best to impart the spirit of Bermuda. A nice smile and a polite ‘good afternoon’ goes a long way.”

Even as a kid he knew he wanted to work in television.

He got his start in 1995, working for Fresh Creations in Bermuda as an intern and production assistant for Peter Backeberg and Elmore Warren.

“Working on numerous professional projects with various budget sizes was a great learning experience,” he said. “The experience gained with Fresh Creations was invaluable as I got to work as an intern or production assistant on many different projects such as the music video for Hootie & the Blowfish’s Billboard Top 40 hit Tucker’s Town along with other music and corporate videos, cooking and entertainment shows, and television commercials.”

He has worked steadily in entertainment since 1995 both in front of and behind the camera.

In 2002, he produced and starred in the short film Whoa: The Influence of Art.

Whoa was written and directed by my longtime friend and Emmy Award-winning director and editor Thurston Smith and was winner of Best Visual & Special FX at the 2006 Houston International Film Festival, an Intermedia-Globe Award at the 2005 World Media Festival in Germany, Best Short Film Award at the 2004 New York Festivals, Official Selection Screening at the 2004 Bermuda International Film Festival.”

Last year, he started filming a series, called Pizza Perfect combining a passion for travel and pizza.

Pizza Perfect obtained worldwide distribution through Espresso Media in October 2017 and is looking to attach a broadcaster to air the show,” he said. “We are in pre-production now to shoot episode two here in Los Angeles in the next few weeks.

“With all the fresh local ingredients in California there is some tasty pizza in town.”

Right now he is living in Santa Monica, while he finishes up work on Eddie’s.

“Don’t ask me where I’ll be in six months though,” he said.

He is also developing a television show in Barcelona, Spain called Barcelona Caballero’s, with Spanish actor César Pereira.

Mr Scrymgeour said he would love to one day shoot a television show or film in Bermuda. “An hourlong crime drama would work in Bermuda,” he said.

For a trailer of Eddie’s see: www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlV456kTGVI&feature=youtu.be.

Situational comedy: Bermudian writer and director Alex Scrymgeour outside Eddie’s Bar & Grille in Venice Beach, California
Bar man: Eddie McGee in Alex Scrymgeour’s new comedy Eddie’s (Photograph supplied)