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Are TV pilots a waste of time and money? Kevin Spacey (Netflix’s House of Cards) challenged American TV networks in his keynote address at the Edinburgh Television Festival about the futility of spending US $300 to $400 million a year on 100-plus pilots when less than half go to series and only one-tenth are renewed for a second season. Vancouver has been lucky in recent years to see two break-out series — Once Upon a Time and Arrow — emerge from pilots filmed here. But seven of nine pilots that shot here last spring are gone or at risk of cancellation and The 100 and Backstrom haven’t aired yet.
American networks like FOX are re-examining the pilot system but TV pilots are good for Vancouver. They bring work to BC Film crews and interesting actors like Sharon Stone, Jeff Hephner, Gerald McRaney, Grant Gustin, Jesse L. Martin, Jennifer Carpenter, Jack Davenport, Michael Trucco, Lucien Laviscount, Nathaniel Buzolic, Morena Baccarin, Steve Kazee , Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ben Barnes, Rose McIver, Jamie Lee Curtis, Genevieve Angelson and Rainn Wilson to our city. Plus The Flash seems poised to become Vancouver’s next break-out series.
TV PILOT FILMING DATES (Dates Subject to Change):
February 20th – March 12th – AGENT X (TNT). Sharon Stone is newly-elected American vice-president Natalie Maccabee, whose new duties including the running of a clandestine operative known as Agent X. Jeff Hephner is Agent X. Jamie Sheridan is FBI Director Stanton. And Gerald McRaney is Malcolm Millar, who manages the Vice-President’s mansion. Agent X kicked off filming at the Vancouver Art Gallery with Stone’s swearing-in as Vice-President by James Earl Jones. And an epic stunt of Agent X pushing a guy off the roof of Yaletown’s The Level tower into the pool below. Production sign: AX. (WRAPPED).
March 2nd to 25th – THE FLASH (The CW). Grant Gustin (Glee) is Central City assistant police forensics investigator Barry Allen who becomes super fast, aka the Flash, after a freak explosion at S.T.A.R. labs. Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order) is Central City Detective West, a surrogate father to Allen. Candice Patton is cast as Allen’s best friend and potential girlfriend Iris West. Rick Cosnett is Central City Detective Eddie Thawne and Danielle Panabaker, bioengineering expert Caitlin Snow. Carlos Valdes will play engineering genius Cisco Roman. Tom Cavanagh is the S.T.A.R. labs scientist Harrison Wells. Patrick Sabongui will play Central City Police Captain David Singh.And John Wesley Shipp, who played the Flash in an earlier incarnation, will recur. Update: The Flash kicked off filming at Sciue Italian Eatery on Pender downtown on Sunday, March 2nd. And shut down Expo Boulevard on Sunday, March 9th, to film Gustin emerging from an overturned car. And then the giant SPFX explosion that caused it. On Wednesday, March 12th, Grant Gustin debuted the full Flash costume downtown. Production sign: CENTRAL CITY. (WRAPPED).
March 4th to 20th – SEA OF FIRE (ABC). Scandal writer Jenna Bans’s Sea of Fire is based on Dutch series Vuurzee about the fallout from a pornographic film starring three local teen girls on their families and others in a small town. Described as a cross between Twin Peaks and The Killing, Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter’s sister) is the uncompromising FBI agent Leah Pierce who alienates a whole town with her blunt questions. Jack Davenport is the local sheriff torn between investigating a disappearance that leads to murder while covering up his seemingly perfect daughter Merel (Isabelle Cornish)’s involvement. How much does his wife Laura Lee (Lilli Birdsell) know? The other families: Reverend Bobby (Jeffrey Nordling) and Adine McAllister (Amanda Detmer) are parents to Rudy (Keir Gilchrist) and the missing girl Jane (Morgan Taylor Campbell). Pete (Michael Trucco) and Kristen Harper (Christina Chang) are parents to Sonya (Zoe Soul) and Xander (Kevin G. Shmidt), the troubled boyfriend of the missing Jane. Update: Sea of Fire started filming at the local sheriff (Jack Davenport)’s house in New Westminster dressed with a big American flag. And then filmed for almost a week in North Vancouver’s Deep Cove dressed as Serenity Falls with Jennifer Carpenter & Jack Davenport. Production sign: SOF. (WRAPPED).
March 12th to 29th – WARRIORS (ABC). Inspired by the world-famous Walter Reed Military Medical center in Washington, D.C., this drama follows the military doctors and nurses who treat returning vets, military families and the Washington elite. Morena Baccarin (Homeland, V) is troubled psychiatrist Tory Sterling, returning to work at Walter Reed and her family after a 9-month tour in Afghanistan. Broadway star Steve Kazee is her husband Clay, who is unaware of Tory’s affair with fellow doctor George Mann. Other doctors, nurses and patients include Greg Grunberg, Eloise Mumford (Fifty Shades of Grey), Don Hany, Courtney B. Vance, Justina Machado and Hampton Fluker with Abbie Cobb as the wife of a wounded soldier. Update: Warriors is filming at UBC on Friday, March 14th, in the Robotics Lab and the Gymnasium. Production sign: STAGE 49-W. (WRAPPED).
March 14th to 29th – PROOF (TNT). Produced by Kyra Sedgewick, Proof is a supernatural medical drama about Jennifer Beals as female surgeon Dr. Carolyn Tyler who’s asked to investigate cases of reincarnation and hauntings for proof. Despite her own recent bereavement she remains Scully-skeptical and reliant on hard science when it comes to answering the question — is there something beyond death? Joe Morton (Scandal/Eureka) is Dr. Charles Russell, head of the hospital. Callum Blue will play a best-selling author who claims to be a psychic; Edi Gathegi a Sudanese hospital intern; Matthew Modine is tech billionaire Ivan Turing facing terminal cancer who funds the research and Caroline Rose Kaplan is his assistant. Update: Proof filming at UBC’s Life Sciences Centre (often used as hospital set) on March 15-16th. And then turned the Vancouver Public Library into a hospital both inside and out (for a scene of Dr. Russo running) on March 22-23rd. Production sign: PPI. (WRAPPED).
March 16th to 28th – EXPOSED (ABC). Adapted from Liza Marklund’s Swedish novels, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is Anna, an investigative journalist who’ll stop at nothing to uncover the truth and ends up aligning herself with the wrong people to do it. Sandrine Holt, Pedro Pascal, Peter DeJersey, Brian F. O’Byrne and Fran Kranz co-star. Kranz is Anna’s tech genius younger brother. And Ben Barnes is cast as Anna’s boyfriend Stova, who claims to be a pilot but is actually an NSA whistleblower hunted by the American government. This pilot is split between Vancouver and San Francisco. Update: Filming of Exposed started Sunday, March 16th, with a scene of Anna and her brother crossing the street in Yaletown. Production sign: GEP. (WRAPPED).
March 24th to April 10th – iZOMBIE (The CW). Rob Thomas’s procedural about a medical student-turned-zombie Olivia (Once Upon a Time’s Rose McIver) who works in a Coroner’s Office where she eats the brains of corpses as a way to survive without killing anyone. But here’s the added twist: each brain she eats gives her their memories which could help solve open homicide cases. She passes off this ability as “psychic” to work with a police detective (Malcolm Goodwin). Robert Buckley is Liz’s former fiancé and [role being recast], her best friend and roommate. David Anders is bad guy Blaine. Update: iZombie filmed two overnights in its first week at Queen Elizabeth Park and Deer Lake Park. Production sign: iZombie. (WRAPPED).
March 30th to April 14th – UNTITLED (CBS). Based on Israeli Ran Quartet, Only Human (working title) is a soapy medical show about the head of a hospital (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her quadruplets — a sister and three brothers (Anna Brewster, Ashton Holmes, Cameron Scoggins and Nick Jandl) – who grew up on a reality show. From David Marshall Grant. Production sign: VCB. (WRAPPED).
April 1st to 11th – BACKSTROM Reshoots (FOX). Backstrom has the “next great asshole protagonist” in the self-destructive, offensive, irascible and brilliant Portland detective (Rainn Wilson). Rival CBS ordered the pilot and it filmed here last March but the network passed. FOX picked it up as a 13-episode series in January. From Bones showrunner Hart Hanson, the procedural with a twist will do a week of reshoots with new female lead Genevieve Angelson. (WRAPPED).
SPINOFF FILMING DATES:
March 11th to 21st – SUPERNATURAL: BLOODLINES (The CW). The spinoff is about a new hunter and tribes of monsters who run Chicago mafioso-style and is expected to start filming here in mid-March and then move onto Chicago for three or four days. Lucien Laviscount is the new hunter while Danielle Savre is acting head of the shapeshifter clan until her brother David, played by Nathaniel Buzolic, returns. Sean Faris and Melissa Roxborough are werewolves but she has a forbidden love for shapeshifter David. Other cast includes Stephen Martines as a Chicago cop who mentors the hunter but is secretly on the payroll of one of the tribes. Update: Supernatural: Bloodlines started filming on Tuesday, March 11th, in a SW Marine Drive mansion and wrapped here on Friday, March 21st, in Robert Burnaby Park. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki flew to Chicago to film with Bloodlines cast for final three days. The episode will air April 29th. Production sign: BSJC. (WRAPPED).