By Patricia Reaney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - With exotic locations, an international cast and plots that involve tracking serial criminals across European borders, "Crossing Lines," which debuts on U.S. television on Sunday, aims to set itself apart from other police dramas.
The series, created by Ed Bernero, formerly of "Criminals Minds" and Rola Bauer, of Munich-based Tandem Communications, follows a small, elite unit of investigators from the United States and Europe working for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to solve cross-border crimes.
Award-winning actor Donald Sutherland, who plays ICC prosecutor Michel Dorn, said the key to the series is that it is not a typical police drama showing how crimes are solved.
"It is observational. It is about people and the inter-relationship between those people and what they observe and why their smartness, the sensibility of that smartness, is what makes them good," he explained in an interview.
Sutherland, who won an Emmy and Golden Globe award as best supporting actor for "Citizen X" and a Golden Globe award for the historical drama "Path to War," said his character is very loosely based on Luis Moreno Ocampo, the first prosecutor at the ICC.
Sutherland said Ocampo approached him at an airport, and asked if he was doing a project about the International Criminal Court and then introduced himself.
"We had the most wonderful conversation. He said, 'I always wear a black tie.' So, if you look at the series, after the first episode my character always wears a black tie."
The actor described his rather mysterious character, Dorn, as "an honest man, a true man and he has suffered a lot," adding that he also adores women.
The most difficult aspect of portraying Dorn, he said, was finding the truth in the character and displaying it.
French actor Marc Lavoine heads the elite investigative squad, which includes William Fichtner, Richard Flood, Tom Wlaschiha, Moon Dailly and Gabriella Pession.
"Mark has set up a little police force with a great Italian detective, a wonderful Irish detective, a terrific German detective and intellectual engineer, and an American crippled out-of-work New York policeman who lives in Amsterdam," is how Sutherland summed up the cast.
He admitted sometimes having difficulty understanding Flood's Irish lilt, but said the various European accents give the series texture.
The shooting locations in Paris, Prague and Nice in the initial 10 episodes add to the international feel of the series. Sutherland, whose next film with be a period drama set in Kansas in 1875 with his son Kiefer Sutherland, said the series will be shot in Moscow and Marseille.
In the first episode, the ensemble cast hunts a serial killer in various cities. Future episodes will deal with drug smuggling, human trafficking and kidnapping.
"I think one of the things that is in the DNA in the project is that as the title says it crosses lines. We're living in a global world. We're connected by the Internet. We are trying to have certain things that are common to each other through television," Bauer told journalists.
(Editing by Bernard Orr)