​Ed Burns: A New York love story

The actor-writer-director's new TV series, "Public Morals," stars his favorite city as its backdrop.

CBS News

"The Brothers McMullen" marked Ed Burns debut as a filmmaker back in 1995. It was a career-changing moment -- just like in the movies. He talks this morning with Tracy Smith:

You may know Ed Burns as an actor, in films like "Saving Private Ryan," or an independent filmmaker, or the guy lucky enough to marry supermodel Christy Turlington. What you may not know is how much he loves New York City,

And "love" is probably not a strong enough word.

"It's funny," said Smith, "your eyes light up when you talk about old New York, almost like a romantic thing."

"My first apartment, I lived in the West Village on Bank Street, and I had no money," said Burns. "So the only thing that I would do to entertain myself was walk around the city. And I probably covered every block of the city for those first five years that I lived here."

It's where he's shot nearly all of his films, and where he's shooting his latest project, "Public Morals" -- a cops-and-gangsters TV series in which Burns stars, as well as writes and directs.

"The best co-star any actor could have is a street corner in New York City," he said, before being interrupted by a siren. "That's the only problem with shooting here, right?"

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Edward Burns as Terry Muldoon and Michael Rapaport as Charlie Bullman in "Public Morals."
TNT

The show, which premieres on TNT next week, is set in 1960s New York, an era Burns wandered the streets to find.

"I would drop my kids off from school, take my phone, and then just pick a different neighborhood to walk around and just take pictures of the buildings that remained untouched," he said. "And much to our surprise, there's still a lot of old New York left."

It's a show that's literally decades in the making, inspired by stories Burns heard as a kid.

"My father's a cop. My uncle was a cop. A lot my cousins became cops. Every wedding and funeral we went to were cop events.

"I remember some guy telling about that great arrest they made. I was always fascinated by those stories."