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


Anonymous said...

Hi Rick,
Do you know what happened or do you have any info on the painting that used to hang in magnums kitchen, it was a painting of a topless island girl I think, and can you get copies of it?


Marco said...

The "topless girl" picture is a mixture of 2 motives of Gauguin actually (based on "2 Tahitians/When Are you getting married" and I think "Vairumati"). I am not an expert for art but that is what I had found out previously. From Rick's post it sounds as if it could have survived - but chances do not sound that good for it. Too bad but to a Magnum fan, everything would have been of value.

RVI said...

Hi Rick,

What do you know about these props? They look real enough, but the AAPI award doesn't agree with a pic you posted?

Magnum PI prop, original from show, Checkbook, Item number: 170310569797

Magnum PI prop, original from show, Appreciation Award Item number: 170310818988

I bought your exposed 35mm film on eBay ~

Thanks again for a great blog!

Magnum Decorator said...

I do know that the painting disappeared several years ago. I do not want to speculate here who might have taken it. There was very little security in the set dressing area and many times other shows used items to furnish their offices--at which point the items often became "theirs."
While I don't want to become the Official Magnum Authenticator of Props and Set Dressing for the internet, the two items for sale do look legitimate. Fist of all, I can't imagine someone going through the trouble of making up a fake checkbook now to make $50 on ebay. This would have been a prop and out of my area anyway. The second item (the plaque) is something I may have ordered from The Trophy House (still in business). They made all of our plaques, awards, trophies for the shows I did here in Hawaii. Of course whether these things were ever actually seen or not is another question you will have to answer!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rick:

I won your Bridge on the River Kwai, Tail Section, and Romeo and Juliet invoices. Yes, I am having them professionally framed and hang them. I might share an invoice or drawing with some MPI friends. One of the most memorable MPI props I recall is a penguin statue on a always seemed odd for a Hawaiian beach estate to include a penguin statue along with the decor!

Jim G.

Mike (N1095A) said...

Hi Rick,
A couple photos of the Surfski ocean kayak that was used in the show have been circulating on the web for quite a while. In the photos it looks like it is hanging on the back wall of the building in your photos. I know that was likely a prop, and not set dressing, and I really don't want to put you on the spot, but do youu remember ever seeing it hanging in there, or have any idea what ever happened to it?

Magnum Decorator said...

Yes, the surfski hung in that building for 20 years! I believe there were originally 2 with one belonging to Tom. Anyway, there was some interest in the State Film Office creating a "museum" of artifacts used in the show. Unfortunately, it was mostly a case of "too little" (money), "too late" (everything was gone). I believe the surf ski was saved by someone, but whether is still exists or not is anyone's guess. Again, because the set dressing was sold to the State of Hawaii, technically if you "own" a painting or a chair, the implication could be that it was stolen. So while there may be "black market" items out there, no one is going to brag about owning any of it. This is a whole area I would really not get into anymore because I still live here and work with many people who worked on the show. I believe there were 2 penguin statues (non-native, of course) and at least one of them still lives in storage. Sorry, it can't be sold any more than you can go into any Sate building and buy something. So let's leave this topic alone because it could come back and bite me and I'm having enough trouble getting over my food poisoning or stomach flu as it is!

Mahalo, Rick

Marco said...

I can tell you that I saw the actual Surf Ski hanging in the studio and the picture circulating the web was mine. The item was saved and restored professionally. No, I do not have it - I would love to have it though, too :-)

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