From Vancouver to San Francisco to New Westminster. Alcatraz’s reenactment of the famous car chase from the 1968 movie Bullitt started in downtown Vancouver in an… Read More »#Alcatraz Car Chase from Vancouver to San Francisco to New Westminster
Published March 26, 2012 on Vancouver is Awesome
In 1963 the prisoners on Alcatraz disappeared. Now they’re coming back. You won’t believe what happens next on Alcatraz. – teases FOX’s Alcatraz Highlight Reel for the two-hour season finale tonight, almost all of it filmed in rain-drenched Vancouver, except for two-and-a-half minutes of a Bullitt-inspired car chase filmed on the sun-drenched streets of San Francisco.
The 13-episode first season of Alcatraz tells the saga of a secret agency dedicated to finding and catching inmates from the infamous San Francisco prison gone missing 50 years ago and reappearing today. It stars petite blonde-bobbed Sarah Jones as police detective Rebecca Madsen; Jorge Garcia from Lost as her partner, Alcatraz expert Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto; and Sam Neill as Emerson Hauser, her mysterious boss with a past life on Alcatraz. The fourth person of interest in this secret squad is Hauser’s equally mysterious partner Lucy Banerjee, played by Parminder Nagra of ER, who was shot by the sniper convict Ernest Cobb during the second episode and then revealed to have her own past life on Alcatraz as hasn’t-aged-a-day psychiatrist-to-the-inmates Dr. Lucille Sengupta.
Showrunners teased several big moments ahead of tonight’s finale during the Alcatraz panel at WonderCon over the March break, including Lucy’s reintegration back into present day after finally waking up from her coma. Below is Parminder Nagra filming scenes with Jorge Garcia and Sam Neill in late February outside Belkin House downtown dressed as the MacAlister Institute. In the second photo there is little to suggest the romantic attachment which formed between Nagra and Neill’s characters in their past lives on Alcatraz, when Hauser was a young policeman. But I only caught part of their reunion.
The bigger reveal about tonight’s finale is that Sarah Jones’s Detective Madsen will chase after and confront her Alcatraz inmate grandfather Tommy Madsen in a Bullitt-inspired car chase filmed for three days in San Francisco (it took the crew of Bullitt nine days to film the original chase for the 1968 movie). I’d hoped that they’d use the Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT 2+2 Fastback that Jones’s character Rebecca Madsen has been driving in Vancouver — the exact colour, make and model of the Mustang that Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt — but I guess there wasn’t time to ship it down to San Francisco for the shoot or to rebuild it so that it could do the stunt driving.
FOX promo photos show a Deep Impact Blue 2013 Mustang GT speeding down a San Franciso hill. Sarah Jones did fly down to film scenes there but a stunt double did the driving. Jones hadn’t filmed in San Francisco since the pilot, which I wrote about in my first #YVRShoots series post on Alcatraz.
Published January 23, 2012 on Vancouver is Awesome
Mega-producer J.J. Abram’s new sci-fi mystery island series Alcatraz premiered last week in back to back episodes with the final big set piece on the roof of the Dominion Building downtown. Alcatraz, which is about a secret agency dedicated to finding and catching inmates from the infamous San Francisco prison gone missing 50 years ago and reappearing today, opened to 10 million viewers and a 3.3 rating on FOX, making it the second biggest drama premiere this TV season. next to modern fairy tale series Once Upon a Time on ABC. So the two biggest new hit American dramas both film in Vancouver. Coincidence?
“302 Vanished. 3 Must Find Them” is Alcatraz’s tagline. Of the 3, petite blonde-bobbed Sarah Jones is the surprise action star : chasing a suspect who turned out to be her Alcatraz inmate grandfather in our introduction to her police detective character Rebecca Madsen in the pilot. She’s the one doing the running, the jumping and sassing her superiors with classic lines like “Thanks for being a dick about it”. Her partner Jorge Garcia as Alcatraz expert Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto has a way with a sharp wisecrack, “You’ve built the Bat Cave underneath Alcatraz” (as you’d expect from Lost’s Hurley), and her mysterious new boss Sam Neill as Emerson Hauser makes a great mean face as he looms above a drugged Rebecca with the ominous words “Welcome to Alcatraz”, but neither man is one for action.
Apart from the 3, the other person of note in this secret squad is Hauser’s equally mysterious partner Lucy Banerjee played by Parminder Nagra of ER, who is shot by the sniper convict Ernest Cobb during the filming of the second episode and then revealed to have her own past life on Alcatraz as hasn’t-aged-a-day Dr. Lucille Sengupta. I spotted the Gastown alley crime scene but haven’t seen Nagra on location yet.
I wrote about and photographed the filming of some of the first half-dozen episodes in my YVRshoots series post Read More »YVRShoots Series – ALCATRAZ Blows up Victory Square
Published October 18, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome
Every since I took a ferry to visit the infamous Alcatraz prison in San Francisco Bay to hear stories of its history, stroll Broadway in the main cell house and take a turn in solitary confinement, I’ve become a bit obsessed with all things Alcatraz. So you can imagine my anticipation for mega-producer JJ Abrams’s new sci-fi mystery island series about the present-day reappearance of 302 missing 1960s inhabitants of the Rock. Alcatraz is expected to air in early 2012 on FOX in the U.S.
Blonde Sarah Jones is the San Francisco police detective Rebecca Madsen investigating the reappearance of wardens and prisoners missing for 50 years from the notorious island prison and Jorge Garcia (Lost’s loveable Hurley) is the Alcatraz expert Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto she partners with to delve into its secret history and figure out where these prisoners have been and why they’re back. During each of the first season’s thirteen episodes this unlikely duo has to catch a different infamous criminal from America’s past, one that hasn’t aged since the 1960s and is now loose on the streets of Vancouver made to look like the streets of San Francisco.
On the Friday night ahead of the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, the takedown happened downtown outside the Royal Bank at Granville and West Hastings. Sarah Jones and Jorge Garcia drove up in a vintage Mustang to enter a building already surrounded by “picture” San Francisco police officers and a SWAT team. Cast and crew filmed through the night until dawn broke around 6 a.m. on Saturday, or as one of the actors dubbed it — “the longest night shoot ever”.
At the beginning of this year, JJ Abrams flew up here to oversee the filming of Alcatraz’s pilot, plus a hilarious scene on his other show Fringe (what Alcatraz crew jokingly calls its “evil sister”) of Jorge Garcia getting high with John Noble’s Dr. Walter Bishop. I tried to find Alcatraz on location during Abrams’s visit but kept showing up after they’d wrapped for the day — first in Queen Elizabeth Park where they filmed a standoff in a fake cemetary and then at a house in Shaughnessy where nobody remained except crew dismantling the set.
Luckily I caught one of the pivotal scenes of the pilot when Sarah Jones’s detective character meets Jorge Garcia’s Alcatraz expert and comic book enthusiast Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto at his store Doc’s Comics & Collectibles, Read More »#YVRShoots Series – Hurley’s on Alcatraz This Season
Published July 21, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome
How’s this for Comic-Con craziness? Twihards starting lining up outside the San Diego Convention Center three days early (on Monday) to be among the six thousand lucky enough to get into The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn 1 panel in Hall H, which took place just before lunchtime today. Breaking Dawn 1 was the first panel in Hall H so that Twihards couldn’t ruin Comic-Con like they usually do. What’s even more crazy? That the vampires and werewolves of the mainly Vancouver-shot Breaking Dawn 1 aren’t the most popular panel of the hundreds at Comic-Con 2011. Not even close. That honour belongs to the zombies of AMC TV series The Walking Dead.
Breaking Dawn 1 isn’t even among the most popular of Vancouver-filmed movies and TV series at Comic-Con, which has become less about big movies and more about cult television series in recent years. Locally-shot TV series Pscyh cracked the Top 25 most popular panels and Fringe, Eureka, Supernatural and Alcatraz are all in the Top 50. Breaking Dawn 1 and Underworld Awakening (the fourth in the movie franchise but only the third to star Kate Beckinsale and her vampire cat suit) barely made the Top 50 cut.
Psych presented today to standing-room-only, people-turned-away capacity, with Psych-os either dressed as pineapples or carrying them. Apparently series star James Roday (seen above directing a vampire-themed episode) improvised with a pineapple in the show’s premiere and there’s been one hidden in every episode since. Nominally a detective series, Psych knows how to play to a Comic-Con crowd, with several episodes in its sixth season (now filming in Vancouver) crossing over into genre stuff like vampires, super heroes and Star Trek. In a real casting coup, the original Captain Kirk — William Shatner — plays the father of one of the main cast in an episode filmed Read More »BIG READ – Working the Comic Con Craziness in 2011 – Updated
Published April 21, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome. In less than a month, the five American broadcast networks start to unveil their fall plans in… Read More »TV PILOTS: ONCE UPON A TIME, ALCATRAZ and other TV Pilots Await Their Fate