Monday, March 30, 2009

Higgins' Den "Before" Look PART I

Unfortunately I don't have any more memory of doing this "before" of Higgins' Den than I do of the earlier guesthouse.  What these photos also show, however, are the architectural elements of Higgins' den.
     One of the first things I did as decorator was to  make the books in the "wild bookcase" section fake.  It was extremely difficult to move the bookcase wall with the books in it because of the weight.  Whenever you saw a camera angle of the desk from the bookcase side, it had to be taken out to fit the camera in.  The other side with the French doors was not a problem.
The (fake) white brick wall in Higgins' den were a left over design element from the pilot that was filmed partially at the Marks' Estate.  There was an enclosed lanai that had painted white bricks on a couple of the walls.  The double doors at the end of the room lead into the entry hall with the curved staircase.  Beyond that was the door I called "the door to everywhere else" since it went to several places depending on the episode.  Any of you ever notice this?
    Not sure where to insert this entry hall story, but this is as good a place as any.  When Ms. Lansbury came over to do the combined "Murder She Wrote" episode (later commenting that her show had "saved" Magnum when our ratings were down), she had a scene on the stairs with Tom.  I was not present when this happened, but I did hear about it from several people.  Ms. Lansbury was delivering her lines at the top of the stairs (as mentioned earlier that they only lead to the catwalks above the set) and Tom was at the bottom.  At some point in the afternoon around 4:00 p.m. while Tom was saying his lines, an alarm tone went off.  Ms. Lansbury suddenly walked down the stairs past Tom who had a look of bewilderment on his face.  One of her people then said, "Ms. Lansbury is done for the day."  Apparently part of her contract was to only work so many hours a day, which is not uncommon.  Having an alarm clock and leaving in the middle of a scene is uncommon.  I don't think anyone felt the love after that.  Tom, on the other hand, was always good about giving that extra to finish a scene--especially at a location where returning would have been difficult (and expensive).  

As long as I'm inserting sidebar messages, thank all of you who bid on my eBay Magnum items (especially you know who).  I really don't think I have anything left of interest (the box I used to store my papers in? lol)  If I ever do find anything, I will be sure to let you know.  In the meantime, as mentioned before, the eBay guys from Hauula (Hawaiiprops) are legitimate and nice people--and are doing VERY well!  I'd better establish some advertising / endorsement rates soon!

Mahalo again for your expressions of thanks for this blog!

Aloha,  Rick

Higgins' Den "Before" Look PART II

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Guesthouse (again) and My Office (next to Tom's)

I went through a lot of trouble to rearrange the 96 thumbnail photos of the slide scans that were emailed to me from India to get all the sets in order.  My i-photo likes to scramble things out of order.  While putting the photos into a separate file, I noticed that they are all messed up.  This means it will be easy for me to miss a slide or 2 when I post a set.  Grrrrrrrrr, can't win.  Also, I have been pulling these directly out of i-photo and not running them through Photoshop.  So they may appear smaller and darker.  If this is a problem for you, I will run them through, but it does take more time.  I know, I know, what else have I got to do...............

Anyway, the most comments I ever got for a set photo was the one of the guesthouse so here are 2 more.  Obviously this was for one of those episodes where things were changed.  Was it a dream, a flashback, a fantasy, or did someone steal all the regular furniture?  I'm sure the first comment will clue us clueless ones in.  At least it does show the wall(s) that were hardly seen.

I have a whole bunch of Higgin's den photos that are also changed so maybe I should post those next?

The first picture is the corner of my office.  It was sometimes used for storage of more fragile or expensive set dressing before they were used.  Tom's secretary was on the other side of the 3/4 inch thick wall.  I never heard anything really bad!

Happy Prince Kuhio Day (a State holiday here),


Monday, March 23, 2009

T.C.'s Living Room - Racist Decorating?

Looking at these photos I sort of cringed.  Egyptian papyrus scroll hieroglyphics above the sofa, African animal skins and poster, tribal drums, African figures, masks, prints............gee, do you suppose T.C. was black?  Once upon a time in the mid-80's when African Americans were not  often regulars on top-10 TV shows (pre-Cosby - post "Julia",  "Good Times"), I guess having this cliche decor was acceptable.  Other than that, it's gorgeous! (lol)  At least the set isn't the usual "box" and has some interesting angles and wall surfaces.  I remembering ordering those Egyptian hieroglyphic  papyrus prints for over the sofa (I was so hip!), but I can't remember if I did the entire set or not.  I'm guessing I might have or  I wouldn't have taken so many pictures of it.  I remember we did keep a file with Polaroid shots of all the permanent sets to make sure everything always went back.  This set would have been called a "swing set" (no, not the kind you buy at Sears) because it was only set up as needed and then stored.  Sometimes walls or windows might get reused in another set, but we always had to be careful not to use any of the dressing.  Even pre-stop action TV had people who would notice T.C.'s zebra skin in another set.  Normal minimum wall height was 10 feet.  Paneling only came in 8 feet so you can see the picture molding at 8 feet with 2 more feet added.  Well, that's all I can think of on this less than memorable set.

Aloha,  Rick

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Delivering the Goods...........Photos at last & more ebay stuff

These are the first 2 of 90+ slides that were scanned and sent back on disc so we're back in business.  I won't know which episode most of these are from so your part of the deal is to play Name That Set.  This was for some party that Higgins had at the estate.  I lucked out with this carousel horse, stuck an umbrella in it and instant overdone centerpiece!  Set dressing was the only department allowed into the house so we could place those chairs up on the 2nd floor lanai  The actual "front door" to the house lead to the lower lanai which then opened into this courtyard or into the other rooms of the house on the right.  The room (bump out) to the left of the door was the "trunk room" since they would only come for the "winter season."  There was an inner hallway off the lanai with the staircase (badly corroded by sea air the last time I saw it).  Those are the 2,000 foot cliffs of Makapu'u next to the estate.  It was a popular hang gliding take-off point and usually greener in the rainy season (whenever that used to be--weather has changed here).  You can see the motor home parked in the distance.  It was always a challenge to get the motor home as close to the set as possible and not have it seen (along with the other production trucks and massive generator).  Often times it was covered with plants (fake or real) and sometimes camouflage net.  Well, not much more to be said about these two.

New Magnum items listed on ebay are:  #190295729912, #190295732049, and #190295733545 and my last 2 "LOST" caps.  Good luck (to me, that is!)

Aloha,  Rick

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Newspaper article about me and the set

(first section on right......nice painting!)

Just going through the last of my paperwork and found a bunch of newspaper column drops about me (celebrity that I used to be, lol) and came up with this article from December, 1987.  I had to laugh that I had already been deposed as the decorator after 3 seasons and hired back as the assistant and never mentioned my (now) boss.  Hmmmm, wonder why?  That's one story I can't put on the internet, but buy me a drink sometime and............
Anyway, the article does give some information--I would guess all of you know most of it already!  Sorry that I had to chop it in half, but I hope it's legible.  Just double click it to make it larger.
While I am posting this, UPS delivered the Scan Safe slides now on disc of the "lost" Magnum sets so if you don't mind suffering a little longer, I will soon be posting them.  Speaking of posting, should I bother to put anything on ebay after what has been spent in the last week?  Anyone got any money left?  Speaking of ebay, I assume you all know that whoever is selling that junk on ebay (a red,white, and blue lei?) from a "genuine L.A. prop house" that claims to be from Magnum should be thrown off.  I can sell you a monkey pod pineapple bowl for $50 if you really want one.......  The stuff from Hauula, HI is all legitimate so go for it! (nice people, too)

Aloha,  Rick

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Back to the Blog

I thought I should post at least one thing this week that didn't have to do with ebay.  The auctions haven't closed yet, but I will say an early "Mahalo" to all those who bid and hope you enjoy your Magnum items.

I just scanned these photos and they reminded me of the week I just had--ending with food poisoning and having to cancel a party for a good friend who is visiting.  Anyway, a recurring theme seems to be what happened to all the Magnum items after the show?  As I have said, the State Film Office bought the remains for their set dressing "stock" of items that could be used by another resident company at the studio or even rented by an outside group doing a commercial or other TV / film project locally.  The set dressing crew (leadman, swing gang) occupied the area that also housed the storage for all of these items used by other past shows - Hawaii 5-0, Magnum, Hawaiian Heat, Byrds of Paradise, One West Waikiki, Jake and the Fatman, etc.  No distinction was made as to which show the items came from.  Kitchen items went into the kitchen storage area, tables with tables, pictures with pictures, etc.  We more or less remembered where some of the items had come from, but it was not designated as being very important--more of a "Hey, remember this from Jack Lord's desk?"  When you're around it all day, it loses any real importance of its origins.

     When a resident TV show occupied the studio, the set dressing crew inherited the duty of maintaining the resident stock of dressing as well as those of the current production.   The next biggest show after Magnum was "Jake and the Fatman."  We made a vague attempt to label "Viacom" dressing but we were so short on storage space that ultimately everything was co-mingled. When I went with the show to L.A., things were left to my crew to close up where they sat for another 3 years before the next show came in. 

When there was no resident company using the film studio, the burden of renting the set dressing out fell on the film studio resident manager.  The renting of these items was / is very sporadic, but until a few years ago, this facility was the only place you could rent crates, a silver lame curtain, a marble topped desk, gym lockers, or the old 5-0 phone booth.  It was more of an "honor" system that everything would be returned and put back where it came from.  As you can imagine when a project is over, it is more of a dump and run than a careful return and replacement.  The duties of the studio manager are more than enough maintaining this large facility without playing rental agent.  Periodically it would be suggested that the State just get rid of "all that old stuff" and then I would write letters and try and explain the importance of maintaining a stock of items and it stayed.  

I took these pictures prior to the demolition of the set dressing storage building (one end of it was construction and one end set dressing).  As we used to say, if the termites quit holding hands, it would have all caved in.  I don't have any photos of the interior, but suffice to say it was not unlike this exterior collection.  Roof leaks, rats, bugs, dirt were pretty much everywhere in this building affectionately called "The Hole."  The other two photos were after the items had been cleared away prior to demolition.  The new building is basically in the same location.  I tried to have some say in what was saved vs. what was thrown out which was done by the demolition contractor.  In the end, I had to be happy that anything at all was saved.  Those items now occupy 1/3 of the old 5-0 soundstage in a much improved environment.  In some ways, the quantity held by the less quality old storage building was preferable but sooner or later those termites would have won and all would have been lost.

So this is the real story of what happened to all the set dressing 20+ years later.  The importance we attach to the past is often better preserved in our memories than in objects.  

Aloha,  Rick

Sunday, March 8, 2009

ebay Magnum link and item numbers listed

You can either go to my account directly (after 6:30 PST tonight) @  or here are the numbers and closing dates:

Auctions Closing Saturday, March 14th around 6:00 p.m. PST (now dst):

Variety Ad large:  #190291970106
Variety Ad small:  #190291972476
Magnum Stationery:  190291967451

Auctions Closing Sunday, March 15 between 6:00 and 6:30 PST (now dst):

Exposed film:  #190291783135
Crew Award:  #190291788394
Selleck Ad:  #190291795369
Magnum Art:  #190292001854
Model Invoices:  #190292209771
Call sheet, memo, my card:  #190292221384

Assuming I won't be able to retire after these auctions close, I have more things for next week including 2 complete episode production reports w/scripts used. some set working plans, and more (I hope).  Please know that you're getting the originals of whatever I have and I will not be reproducing things for later sales.  Slides should be back soon--more photos, less words. 

Please help support my favorite charity, me!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Shameless Commercialism - I'm selling on ebay again! (under Descon)

I hope to have many things on ebay by Sunday (March 8th) evening (my time).  I was postdating the auctions, but a couple of things slipped through and are on now (Saturday).  Stationery, ads, invoices, exposed film and some other things I hope I don't get in trouble for!  I do sort of mention my blog in the ads, but ebay has gotten so strict now about everything, I didn't want to chance them pulling my ads for pushing this blog.  Thought it might bring a few new followers--I think the anonymous ones are about to take over from those of you with faces!  Do you think Tom is one of them???  Probably not.  

So now is your chance to help support this out of work decorator with your kind, charitable purchases!  I hate groveling, but that's what us decorators have to do sometimes!  Usually it's more for the perfect lamp shade or end tables, though.

Aloha,  Rick 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Scanning update - Magnum slides to photos

I just spent over an hour rearranging thumbnail photos (that were smaller than my thumbnail) on the Scan Safe website.  I did not arrange them in any order when I mailed them, but they allow editing them (click / drag) online.  It's sort of like that old TV game show "Concentration" where you try to remember a match and where you saw it.  I would have lost.  93 of the 96 slides I sent them were of Magnum related sets including 2  of my old office.  There are some good ones of the guest house and several of Higgin's den, T.C.'s office, Rick's office, a party in front of the Anderson estate, some other rooms from the estate, Tom's boyhood home dining room, the very first set I ever did (!) and many I don't have a clue as to what set they are from.  

It appears that it takes a little longer than Scan Safe estimated (more like 2 months) but the price was cheap (under $50) and the quality looks good.  However, I don't yet have the CD so I'll wait before they get my endorsement or eternal damnation from 36 loyal followers (and myself).  

I gave a few more things to show while waiting so check back soon........

Aloha,  Rick