Friday, November 14, 2008

"Echoes of the Mind" 2-Hour Season Opener

This has to be one of the biggest and best sets I've ever done--in many ways.  This episode stared a fairly unknown actress playing the good twin/evil twin (yes, that plot again) in a 2 hour season opener that Marco will tell us which one--at least I remembered the title he told me).

The location was amazing!  One of the great homes of Honolulu happened to be empty.  In the mid 80's it was for sale for $5.9 million.   It is now the Contemporary Art Museum although some elements of the home remain.  A chance to furnish several rooms in this home (and have the budget to do it) was a dream come true and I ran with it!  There were still amazing resources back then to choose from:  Robert Rose / Kreiss Collection, Orientations by Greg Mills,  Consignment Center, Rattan Art Gallery, and   Treasures of the East were all world class decorating resources (and all gone now).  I remember the black rosewood bench along the wall cost $16,000 (relax, rented for 15%).  Well, it was almost a purchase when someone sat on the arm and cracked it.  This was one time I didn't let my usual honesty get in the way.  We glued it and never said another word!

The most memorable and wonderful event to come out of this design was my meeting the late Betty Ho.  Betty was one of "the little old ladies" who did these amazing, creative flower sculptures ("arrangement" is too common!) for the Honolulu Academy of Art (ironically the former location of the home by the builder of this home).  Anyway, I'd heard that Betty had a group of ladies who could do some large scale and elegant arrangements for this set.  I needed something elegant, opulent, and overscale to help fill these huge spaces--like a 60 foot living room and a 30 foot wide window.  We became immediate friends and remained so for 20 years until her untimely death.  I learned a lot from her but mine never seemed to match the elegance of hers.

By comparison to most of my sets ( as you may have noticed), this one is not as "full" as most of my sets are.  My reasoning that it's easier to take something out than have to find something to put in didn't really apply to this set.  It was 80's contemporary with Asian influence in a tropical setting.  I also did a bedroom and some outdoor spaces, but I don't know if I have photos of those areas or not.  These photos are just the ones I've had in my old portfolio.

This season the producers gave me a photo made from a frame of film that showed my name in the credits.  It has Sharon and Tom sitting on that striped day bed with Higgins looking on and my name.  It's still framed and I don't want to take it apart to scan.  I guess you can always stop motion at the end and see for yourself.

Anyway, I don't think I will be topping this set in the blog any time soon so I hope you enjoy it.
As always, your comments and questions are appreicated!

Aloha,  Rick


Darlene said...

I've always loved this house. I work in a home furnishings store and we have this look - Asian influence, clean lines - when ever I watch this episode I devour the details in the house. Good job!

Magnum Decorator said...

Thank you! I don' think there is a major estate on this island that I haven't had the privilege of working in. I even got to do some work inside Iolani Palace this spring as part of the 1st and only film company allowed inside for "Princess Ka'iulani" due out next year. This house was featured in many magazines during its years as a residence and helped create the "modern" local style (albeit high end!). Sadly they carved up the house, took out floors, filled in the pool, etc. to make it into a museum. I suppose it's still better than townhouses!

SelleckLover said...

Wow! Just wow! I loved hearing about the genesis of this set and I love how this post is so diametrically opposed to the last one. (Cheesy & sleazy!) This set is so timeless in it's elegance and kudos to you Rick for the concept. I love how you describe it as a set decorator's "Disneyland", if you will.

rubber chicken said...

This is one of my most favorite homes that appeared in the show. The view is amazing, as well as the architecture. And you did a wonderful job on the inside! Beautiful!

I also find it very sad when a grand home is turned into something else. It's as if without a family living in a home, it dies. And if it's turned into a business, tourist attraction, or in this case a art museum, all that's left are strangers treading through it's lifeless corpse. Is that too graphic?!

I didn't know that they changed so much when turning the house into The Contemporary Museum Honolulu. I was hoping it was left pretty much untouched.

A number of homes from Magnum P.I. have suffered more or less sad fates:

- Just down the hill from the former home in this post, and now also part of The Contemporary Museum Honolulu, is the home of "Mitsu McWilliams" from The Taking of Dick McWilliams (2.10).

- The wonderful old "home built for Princess Kahiwalani" from Forever in Time (8.5) was demolished in 2002. It was located in the College Hills area of Manoa.

- The Walker Estate, used in a handful of Magnum P.I. episodes seems to have not been a family home for 30 plus years, and has been in danger of being torn down. Though it may be safe now.

- Marks Estate, the location of the King Kamehameha Club in Nuuanu Valley hasn't been a family home for 50 years. Instead it has been used by different organizations for offices.

- The home of "Agatha Kimble" from Don't Say Goodbye (1.15) (also in Nuuanu Valley) is thankfully still a home. But it has been extensively remodeled, losing much of it's great character, in my opinion.

That's all I can think of now. Though possibly the Walker and Marks estates were actually used for the show in large part because they weren't family homes. (?)

I got a screen shot of the end credits you mentioned. It can be seen here. What a great gift for the producers to give you!

Thanks so much for sharing Rick.

Magnum Decorator said...

Yes, I did want to leave the "cheesy/sleazy" theme goodbye and this was the set to do it with.

The Cooke Family (beginning with Amos the missionary) ultimately became one half of Castle and Cooke which had interests in sugar and pineapple--ever hear of Dole? The Cooke's were the "Vanderbilts," so to speak, of Honolulu as many of the greatest houses and estates were Cooke family homes. Even the Marks estate was originally a Cooke house. The Honolulu Academy of Art is built on the site of the former Anna Cooke home which ultimately lead to the building of the home we used in this episode. As mentioned, this home was remodeled out of existence to become yet another museum. David Murdock (brother of Rupert - Fox, CNN, etc) has long since owned the remains of Castle & Cooke (including the island of Lana'i and hundreds of acres of former sugar land here on Oahu). Sam and Mary Cooke (2 of the nicest people on the planet) still own a grand Cooke home which will ultimately become a museum in itself without having to be torn down! It's about time someone got it right!

The Walker estate was remodeled almost out of existence when it became the "clubhouse" of a failed Japanese golf club. The classic gardens now long gone. It is still exists as some foreign embassy behind the big (always closed) gates. I always loved filming there. Mrs. Walker was still living in her house and going strong at 97 when she passed away. The State allowed the Marks estate to practically fall down. Both the Marks and Walker estates were used more than any other homes by both Hawaii 5-0 and Magnum. The State finally sold the Marks estate to a man and his two women "sponsors" and has supposedly been completely restored. I wouldn't anticipate any filming there again for a very long time!

Another obscure coincidence is that Eve Anderson's caretaker was the brother of Mrs. Walker's maid! See what happens when you live on an island?

Your questions do bring back some history!

Mahalo, Rick

Mike (N1095A) said...

Sadly the Anderson estate is also in a shocking state of disrepair. Understanding that Ms. Anderson is not capable of the upkeep required on such a property, it's current state can be forgiven. However seeing the recent photos of the property, especially the grounds, and boat house,it is very sad. It almost makes me wish I lived nearby. I'd certainly volunteer my time to try and return this once grand estate to it's former glory. At least we can be happy it is still a private residence.

Marco said...

Awesome pictures - thanks again Rick! Even the storyline was not the most original on the surface, the episode ("Echoes Of The Mind") is a very good one in the series.

I also loved the home and it's great to see some "real" pictures of it. The living room is my personal favourite with the view behind the sofa and the little bar.

SelleckLover said... do you get your picture to show up on your posts? I downloaded a pic on my profile and it doesn't even show up in the "follower" section. Just curious...-)

SelleckLover said...

...well, I guess if you ask a stupid question, the problem resolves itself! =)

Kimbosan said...

Hi do you have any set pics of robins nest inside or outside.....

Mike (N1095A0 said...

Hi Rick,
Just curious, the outdoor bar ste for the KKC was actually a public park. I assume the set had to be dressed every time it was used, and torn down when shooting for an episode wrapped. Were you involved with this set as well? How did they deal with "the public" and did you have to photograph the set so you could recreate it every time? Just a guess here, but I'd think this was likely the most dressed and torn down set of the show.

Thomas Magnum said...

Thank you for sharing this stuff.
I'm an italian MPI addicted and
I'm still viewing it for thousand times since the 80s...
Your work was simply amazing, I'm staring at the pics with nostalgic waves...your blog is gold to me!
This weekend I'll put everything in stand-by and I'll read all your posts.



Magnum Decorator said...

Wow, see what happens when I don't post for a week--lots of questions! I've really lost contact with Eve and don't even get out to that end of the island much. I can't imagine the upkeep, maintenance and taxes on her estate. I have a large, 82 year old house and it's almost a full-time job keeping this place going. It was an amazing place and I hope she will be able to hang on it it. Sadly, if sold, it would probably be torn down and subdivided into several home sites.

Sorry, unless I had to reason to document a set, I seldom took a photo of it. Permanent sets like Robin's Nest Exterior (Eve Anderson's) or the interior permanent sets (soundstage) would not have needed documentation since they already existed when I began in 1983.

YEs, the KCC was the Waialae Beach Park in Kalaha. We did have to set it up each time--major pain in the ass since it was SO windy there. Film companies can get permits that allows them to "own" a location, street, or other normally public area for short periods of time. Off duty police are hired for security so they make extra money and everyone is happy--except the people who can't go to that beach. You did remind me of a funny disaster that I caused before I began working on the show which I will post later. Remind me about the KCC rubber rock story!

Fabrizio, don't spend your whole weekend reading this! It will still be there next weekend, too!

Thanks again for the questions!

Aloha, Rick

Judy said...

You have every right to be proud of this one, Rick. It is beautiful. I am glad to learn you were working inside an actual structure, I could not imagine this being a set. But if so, it would be a work of art. Sounds like you had several lucky breaks putting this one together. No pun, sorry.
Even though these 2 episodes were a little far fetched, they were among my favorites.

Judy said...

To add to the comments others have left about the historic residential architecture in Hawaii, it is heartbreaking to see what has happened and just as heartbreaking to think about what may happen. If I could talk to Mrs Anderson about just one thing, as tempting as it would be to speak about the Magnum years if she were willing, I would beg her to have the history of her estate documented for all to enjoy. There is a service she could utilize which should still be in existance called the American Historical Buildings Survey. It is basically a way for the goverment to document historic buildings using free student labor. When I was in Architecture school it was a graduation requirement. Small groups of students would pick a historical building and then measure and produce drawings. They were then turned in for credit and sent to Washington DC to the records archive. The government even provided us with special paper. If it is still done today it is probably computer generated. But that is my 2 cents. I really really think she should put some things on paper-photos, architectural drawings, a written narrative of the history, etc. That property is too precious to slip away into the greedy hands of developers or to crumbled away. So Rick if you do speak with her, I hope you would encourage her to preserve the history of this architectural master piece.
You know, I have even tried to research architects of this period who worked in Hawaii to try to figure out who may have designed the home so I could find similar structures.
Well thanks for listening to my rant! :)

Magnum Decorator said...

As fate would have it, I also have a degree in Architectural History and a few years ago started Historic Homes Hawaii for people who owned historic homes. (since folded) Between termites and land values, historic preservation has not always been very possible or popular here. I am the youngest charter member of Historic Hawaii Foundation and also own a historic home. SO, yes, I am also concerned but I also know that she is a fiercely private person. All I know is that she inherited the estate from her grandparents who would arrive by boat (Kalanianeole Highway didn't connect to East Honolulu then) and spent the winter. The Spanish Colonial Style was used by local architect Hart Wood in other estates here, but I don't know for sure if he did that estate. It may have been a mainland architect as well.

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