Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Library Set from "Rapture" 60422

In looking over these photos of the mostly unfinished library set and/or being shot, I can only guess I wasn't able to be there for the completed set before the film company showed up and pulled it all apart.  That was always a challenge due to my unpredictable schedule. They pull out walls and furniture to allow for lighting equipment and the camera to film on any stage set.  They will do a "master" shot that captures the scene in a wide angle and then move in for close-ups.  It's not uncommon for an actor to be talking one!  When they edit it together, two actors are talking to each other.  Anyway, what decorator wants actors, and lighting and sound equipment covering up their set?  Sometimes there's not much time before the set is dressed and when it's being pulled apart.

What I remember most about this set was a pre-production meeting with some of the writer/producers.  I think one of them was Rueben Leder.  While discussing the look of this new set, I often was running the availability of local set dressing through my head so I wouldn't come up with an idea that I couldn't produce.  I knew that a friend of mine's father had just donated his large collection of animal heads to the Hawaii Opera Theatre prop department.  He was a contributor or they wouldn't have been too thrilled with housing this large and heavy stuffed animal collection.  I suggested various trophy animal heads for the library walls and semi-jokingly said "How about a water buffalo?"  So Rueben called my "bluffalo" (bad) and I felt kind of cocky since I knew I could supply it.  The joke was on me because I didn't know that the water buffalo head weighed a few hundred pounds!  There was no way that it could be hung on any set wall without causing it to collapse.  The carpenters had to build a whole rig to hold up the head and put the whole unit on wheels in case they needed to move the wall.  You can see it hanging crooked with 2 ladders in one photo.  I'm sure my poor crew was taking a break from trying to hang it.

I see I used my green brocade dining room chairs on the set.  I think this was a set where they decided on the day of shooting that the real library table I had in the middle of the set was too small and they wanted a larger table, NOW!  So I sent my crew to my house with the big truck and they got my very large dining room table.  It's also where the big ding in the top of my black walnut table came from--no compensation since it was the decorator's table.  Anyway, I guess it worked out fine.  The books don't look very impressive and were, in fact, real books and weighed a ton.  One of the things I did when I became decorator was to make all the books in Higgin's den fake so it was easier to move the walls.  They couldn't complain about that since it didn't really change the look--only the weight!

On this set you can see a small ceiling piece in the corner--no bigger than it needed to be for whatever scene and angle they were shooting.  You can also see a little of the catwalk system above used for overhead lighting.  I don't think we had the OSHA safety requirements that they have now or this nasty piece of engineering would have been condemned.  I think one of the reasons for the locations and shape of the permanent sets for Magnum was based on the location of the old catwalks left from the Hawaii 5-0 set days.  Higgin's Den was in the same location as McGarret's office.  In fact, their desk chairs were almost in the same exact spot!  I know that story sounds like the tail wagging the dog to have adapted the sets to the existing catwalks rather than building new ones, but I'm pretty sure what's what happened.  I think if they had changed them much, they would never have been able to use such unsafe, wooden, hanging from a ceiling system as they had.

Well, not much else is coming to mind about this set.  Again, I don't think it was used again or I would have remembered that water buffalo!  At least you got some pictures on this post.



Judy said...

I watched this episode not long ago, so it is kind of fresh in my mind. :)
Thanks again for sharing.
Back to an earller question regarding your comment about reusing sets--WAS Magnum's hotel room /office in the Hotel Dick his guesthouse bedroom redone? Was the bathroom from Mad Buck Gibson a reuse of something else or done from scratch, or was this before you came on board? Can't remember what season that one was.
Are you ever in touch with any other key players on the show?
Thanks for posting your picture, it's good to "see" you !

rubber chicken said...

"Called my bluffalo" ? That's terrible! Terribly funny I mean. That line only comes around once in a lifetime, if at all. I salute you.

I always liked when a new set was used, it helped to make the Estate seem more mysterious. The wine cellar was always nice to see too. And the computer room. And kitchen, etc. etc.

I took a few screen captures of the buffalo corner of the library. I suppose in the first picture the camera was on the catwalk you mentioned?

picture 1

picture 2

Watching the part where Higgins climbs up on the ladder and pats the buffalo on it's head, it seemed that someone was behind the wall moving the head to one side and then stopping it. Instead of letting it fall and swing. Could this be right? I don't remember noticing it before.

That's a neat fact about McGarret's and Higgin's chairs being in the same place. Like a parallel universe.

Judy said...

Back to the guesthouse set (I'm obsessed) The box sitting on Magnum's dresser--can you describe the background and if you know where it ended up? Ditto the brass bell?
My dream would be to build a replica of the guesthouse, although a few modifications would have to be made since the floor plan does not exactly coincide with the exterior elevations of the real boathouse. Will probably remain a dream tho, since I can't afford to buy beachfront property to locate it on!

Magnum Decorator said...

Re: Judy's post: Yes, I did that episode where we changed a lot of the permanent sets for Tom's flashback dream. I guess I'd have to see the episode again to remember what it was that we did to all of them. I really don't remember a bathroom set from Mad Buck Gibson--in fact, I don't think I remember him! I did run into Tom about 9 or 10 years ago ironically at the film studio. He was pitching a show (didn't make it) and remembered my name. I asked about his daughter and wife (who I met when they were still dating) and that was about it. I did work for Glenn Larson in 94-95 when he produced a show here called "One West Waikiki" with Cheyrl Ladd and Richard Burgie. It only ran 1 season. Otherwise I never saw any of the cast after I left the show in 1987. Many of the local crew are still working here--and now some of their kids are , too!

Magnum Decorator said...

Re: Rubber Chicken Yes, I did get the bad pun / humor gene. The wine cellar set was a nightmare since I actually RENTED real bottles of wine from a wine importer. Surprisingly only a few were missing when we returned them--after cleaning all the blown on dust from them. The computer / security room will be coming up (probably next). That overhead image was probably from an angle over the wall. That old catwalk could never have held the weight of a camera! "Tom Selleck Killed by Falling Camera in Freak Catwalk Accident" would not have been a good headline! Marco wants me to do a floorplan of the sets on the stage. I can probably remember their location but it won't be to scale. I could show how they were laid out. All of the Five-O sets survived until the end of Magnum stored out in the back lot under tarps. Universal bulldozed all of them when the Magnum sets were torn down.

Magnum Decorator said...

Re: Judy's 2nd comment: Wow, can you remember a box on a dresser I only saw a few times 25 years later? Well, I can't! You know, that box could be sitting in the set dressing storage area at the studio right now and only YOU could recognize it! I'm afraid that goes for the bell, too. My crew was responsible for restoring and cleaning the permanent sets when they were done filming. It was rare that I would ever look at them unless there was a specific need or problem with them. If you do duplicate the guesthouse, please put some windows in it!

Marco said...

About the sets in general and their layout on the soundstage: When Rick told that many non-regular sets were actually built inside the main house living room set, this explains a lot to me. I always wondered if the permanent sets were completely torn down and rebuilt which obviously was not the case.

Thanks for this article and the pictures - the buffalo head story is indeed hilarious!

Also very interesting to me is the catwalk information. Mahalo!

Judy said...

Well, Rick, I guess my memory for those kind of details just proves to you how fanatic we all are about ths show. I own all 8 seasons on DVD and watch them often, as do others over at Magnum Mania! (welcome to Magnum Mania BTW!) We will just have to "recruit" you. Do you/did you not watch the show? Since it was "work", as incredible as it seems to people like us, maybe you didn't! :)
I hope I am not getting too confused about the different roles played by staff on the show and asking you questions about things you were not really involved with. The box I am referring to was a very ornate chest that looked as if it could have been a large jewelry box. Several people at MM have commented over its beauty.
I am now watching the shows with an eye for recycled sets. Never realized until reading your description how large that living room set was!! It was featured pretty prominantly in Never Again, Never Again. It looks as if the bedroom in the estate where the little girls stayed in the 3rd episode (name escaping me) was Magnum's bedroom set. AND wondering if the wine cellar was the portion of the guesthouse at the foot of the stairs, since the stair pattern seems to be similar. So maybe Magnum, snuck in and really did take some wine? LOL I would have never guessed they would go to all of the trouble to use real full wine bottles!
My version of the guesthouse WOULD include more windows: both walls of the living room and something in the dining area. I would put a porch all of the way across the back of the building to be entered from the bedroom (the windows on either side of the bed become glass doors) and also from the bathroom, with a hot tub, hammock and lots of greenery. The elevation of the porch would somehow incorporate the big wooden door and two windows of the actual guesthouse.
I remember One West Waikiki, I have always been a Cheryl Ladd fan. I was sad it did not last. Seems there was another shortlived Hawaii based show not too long ago with Mariel Hemingway.
How wonderful that the kids have followed in the parents footsteps as far as work.
Thanks for sharing.

Magnum Decorator said...

Yes, I did watch Magnum all the time. I even watched it before I worked on the some. One reason for a Set Decorator to watch the show is to see what is shown of their sets. If the camera didn't "see" something, I could use it again. I used to joke that we would do an an entire set and all we saw of it was his mustache! We spent a fortune on carpet that 90% of the time you never saw. I think having a complete set (even if it's only 3 walls) also helps the actors feel like they are in a real place. Although, it is called ACTING for a reason!
Items for the set were often just casual purchases sometimes just used to take up space and increase the reality of the environment. I mean you had to put something on his dresser, right? Thousands of those dressers were made (maybe Sears?) but only 1 wound up on this TV show.

Yes, many things were reused, but certainly with architectural continuity in any house, walls, doorways, windows, bookcases would certainly all be the same style. It would be difficult to know they were re-used or built for that particular set.