Saturday, January 28, 2006

Surface News

NBC sinks 'Surface' after just one season

By Amy Hotz
Staff Writer

The world may never know whether Wilmington will recover from a giant tsunami. We'll never find out if a baby boom in green sea monsters will deplete the globe's seafood supply.That's where NBC is leaving Surface fans. The network announced its new lineup Monday, and the locally filmed science-fiction series, which aired for only one season, did not make the cut.Cast and crew, including 125 to 150 locals, filmed 15 episodes at Wilmington's Screen Gems Studios and at locations throughout the area. Each episode generated about $1.5 million into the local economy, according to Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission.The show's three main stars, Jay Ferguson, Lake Bell and Carter Jenkins, lived in the area for about six months during the filming."Lake Bell used to come in quite a bit, and she would always bring in a couple of people with her," said Charlie Brookshire, owner of downtown Wilmington restaurant Tango du Chat. "I wish they were coming back. I have faith, though, that there will be more films."Frank Capra Jr., president of Screen Gems, was out of town Monday and unavailable for comment. But, Griffin said, the loss of a client like Surface is obviously a big disappointment for the company, though "at the same time it also frees up the facility for someone else."Wilmington's other locally filmed TV series, One Tree Hill, which wrapped filming of its third season in April, is awaiting word from The CW about its future. The CW will announce its schedule Thursday. Meanwhile, three independent projects are using the studio's sound stages. Surface produced consistent numbers for the network, but suffered from mediocre Nielsen ratings, ranking 58th for the season and attracting about 9.3 million viewers per episode. It tied in the ratings with ABC's freshman science-fiction series, Invasion, which also might be canceled. Calls to NBC on Monday went unreturned.The show did have its fans. An online petition, "Save Surface on NBC," features more than 15,000 signatures, citing the show's "riveting suspense" and "addictive storylines.""We've had a handful of people asking about the show," said Connie Nelson, Cape Fear Convention and Visitors Bureau spokeswoman. "But it was nothing like the phenomenon we had with Dawson's Creek and One Tree Hill." Dawson's Creek filmed here from 1998 to 2003."Everybody loved the show, especially my family," said Surface's property manager, Richard "Petie" Waldrop, a Wilmington resident. Surface co-created by North Carolina natives Josh and Jonas Pate, told the story of a Wilmington teenager, Miles (Carter Jenkins), who discovers an unusual egg that hatches a sea monster. Miles kept the creature (he named it Nimrod) as a pet, until aquarium scientists discovered its existence and tried to do experiments on it.Meanwhile, Dr. Laura Daughtery (Lake Bell), a marine biologist, and Rich Connelly (Jay R. Ferguson), a diver who lost his brother to one of the creatures, teamed up to find out what they were (Prehistoric lizard? Government experiment gone awry?) and how to stop them from destroying the planet.Rick Pour, creature effects supervisor, created the model for the monsters that camera operators used to help the digital effects team. The "little guy" sat in his office most of the time, he said. "You rarely get shows in Wilmington that need that much creature effects. Every week was a cool art project to do."In addition to Nimrod, Pour also created a Japanese snow monkey for one episode, a hag fish and a shark head that had been bitten in two by one of the monsters."It's always sad to see a television series, which is so long running, to go," he said.

STARS: Lake Bell, Jay R. Ferguson, Carter Jenkins and Ian Anthony Dale

SYNOPSIS: There's something in the water. When mysterious sea creatures begin popping up all over the world, three strangers - an oceanographer, a teenager and an outdoorsman - begin to try to uncover the truth of their existence.

popular LOCATIONS: The Fort Fisher Aquarium (900 Loggerhead Road in Kure Beach) stood in for the facility where Miles (Carter Jenkins) develops his interest in sea life. Most of the water scenes (those where it looks like the characters are out in open water) were filmed at the old Bald Head ferry landing in Southport. The Piggly Wiggly at 112 Village Road in Leland was the grocery store where Nimrod (the young sea creature that's Miles' pet) gets lost. A scene in which a lake is drained by the creatures was filmed at Boiling Spring Lakes. Miles goes for breakfast at the Old Pier House Restaurant at 101 K Ave. in Kure Beach after he's lost at sea during one episode.

FUN FACTS: Lake Bell was scared of the ocean before taking the role on 'Surface.' Rade Serbedzija, who starred as Aleksander Cirko during the first episodes, enjoyed dinner at Circa 1922 in downtown Wilmington. Ian Anthony Dale made his own furniture for his downtown Wilmington apartment.

NBC sinks 'Surface': Show not scheduled for fall

NBC announced its fall schedule today, and the locally filmed science fiction series, Surface, was not on it.

Surface employed 125 to 150 people locally, said Johnny Griffin, director the of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission. Few of them, though, expected the show to return.

Griffin said he had been told there was not a strong chance for it to come back. Still, crew members who live in the Wilmington area are disappointed to see it canceled.

“I enjoyed doing it. It was fun for me and challenging,” said Richard “Petie” Waldrop, who worked as property master on the show.

The show’s 15 episodes shot at Screen Gems Studios and at many locations in the area ranked at No. 58 in the Nielson Ratings for the 2005-2006 season. It was pre-empted several times including time slots taken up by the Olympics and Christmas specials.

Surface’s exit leaves three independent projects shooting at Screen Gems while the other drama series filming here, One Tree Hill, awaits word from The CW about its future. The CW announces its fall schedule Thursday.

NBC Cancells Surface

With the current season set to wrap in a flurry of finales, NBC announced their fall television lineup this Monday morning. What will you find on NBC this fall? A lot of familiar faces. NBC veterans John Lithgow and Tina Fey get their own shows, “Larry Sanders” vet Jeffrey Tambor gets another shot, and NBC returns old standbys like the “Law & Orders”.

The biggest announcement in new shows is confirmation that the much touted Aaron Sorkin drama “Studio 60” will have a place in the NBC lineup. It’ll air on Thursdays at 9pm, to shore up NBC’s already strong “My Name is Earl”, “Office” lineup. If “Studio 60” is as good as many think it will be, Thursdays on NBC could be well on their way back to their former Must See TV glory.

Other new shows include John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor’s comedy “20 Years” and the Tina Fey scripted comedy “30 Rock”. Numbers in series names seems to be a big player. I have no idea what that means, but “20 Years” and “30 Rock” are the only two new comedies on NBC’s schedule. NBC explains it by saying comedy is a “challenged genre”, which I guess means they think it’s too much work. An odd attitude when you consider that the two shows spearheading NBC’s Thursday night resurgence are in fact comedies.

In new dramas, NBC is introducing “The Black Donnelly’s”, a show put together by Crash director Paul Haggis. Also on the schedule is something called “Heroes”, a show about ordinary people turning into superheroes. With the superhero genre pretty well saturated in movies, why not move it to television. Anyone up for the resurrection of “Misfits of Science” or “My Secret Identity”?

Officially on the cancelled list are “Joey”, “Surface”, “Four Kings”, “E-Ring”, “Fathom”, “Conviction”, and “Teachers”. Television is better for their passing.

Below is a night by night breakdown of NBC’s fall schedule, courtesy of Variety. New shows are in bold.

8-9 p.m. "Deal or No Deal"
9-10 p.m. "Heroes”
10-11 p.m. "Me-dium"

8-9 p.m. “Friday Night Lights”
9-10 p.m. “Kidnapped”
10-11 p.m. "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"

8-9 p.m. "The Biggest Loser"
9-9:30 p.m. “20 Good Years”
9:30-10 p.m. "30 Rock”
10-11 p.m. "Law & Order"

8-8:30 p.m. "My Name Is Earl" (new time)
8:30-9 p.m. "The Office" (new time)
9-10 p.m. “Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip”
10-11 p.m. "ER"/("The Black Donnellys” in January 2007)

8-9 p.m. "Deal or No Deal"
9-10 p.m. "Las Vegas"
10-11 p.m. "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (new day and time)

8-9 p.m. "Dateline Saturday"
9-11 p.m. Drama Series Encores

7-8 p.m. "Football Night In America"
8-11 p.m. "Sunday Night Football"

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