Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mama Mia, I've been working hard!

Maybe that should read I've been working hard on "Mama Mia," the touring ABBA musical.  I went to the bank last week and waved my first paycheck in over a year to the tellers (who thankfully all know me).  Of course this has nothing to do with Magnum, but it is the reason I haven't been posting lately.  The show is over this next Saturday and has been a lot of fun backstage with this Broadway touring company.  Besides tearing clothing off of people and cramming them into new costumes, I get to polish shoes and steam 9 wedding suits 8 times a week.  College finally paid off!

I'm not sure if I posted this picture before, but it does symbolize people as well as a TV set--things aren't always what they appear to be.  Ok, back to work........most set walls are made up of "flats."  In the theatre they are made of 1x3's laying flat with canvas (actually unbleached muslin) stretched over them.  In TV (and some film) they  are usually 1x3 (sometimes 1x2) on edge and covered with 1/8" "door skin", also known as luan, also known as 1/8 ply.  I did talk about this in an earlier post, but now an earlier post can mean months ago.  You can see how simple this method actually is, but also how well it works for easy set up / take down as well as versatility and reuse.  Remember the wall "off sets" when walls are joined overlapping that sort of yell "IT'S A SET" in case you didn't know.  Even the permanent sets on Magnum were built this way, although they weren't braced with these temporary steel braces or "jacks."  A lot of this terminology came from the theatre / stage use.  Of course the flats can be covered with plaster, texture, wallpaper, or that ever popular "V-groove" paneling so popular back then.

Since I digressed in the beginning (and there may be more of this as the photos are just about gone), I tried to link this blog into my"LOST" bio--something I didn't know that I even had.  It's not to discuss that show, but maybe they will enjoy some of the general information I've been able to pass along about television production in general and not be sued by Disney for divulging "sacred" LOST info into cyberspace (like I know any).

I see I have picked up a few new followers (WELCOME and thanks!) even though I haven't posted much lately--but there is still a lot of info here to read.  I really do need to get going on the promised sound stage floorplan.  I'm afraid it's not going to be all that detailed or even to scale. I suspect that some of you could probably draw a better one with all of your knowledge of the show better than I can.  At some point in the next few postings, the well of photos is going run dry.  I keep hoping there are more set photos stored away as negatives, but I have a few termite repair battles to fight before I can spend a lot of time crawling around looking for them.

Hope you all have had a great 3 day weekend and took a little time to remember what it's supposed to be about--even as I grilled hamburgers on my one day off this week.  Unfortunately it looks like there will be a lot more days off again soon!  Maybe I can put my new found shoe shining skills into practice?

Aloha,  Rick


Marco said...


Great news, Rick! Happy to hear there was a good week finally - it sounded that besides the work it was fun to work for that show.

You mentioned that the permanent sets were "held together" different than the short-term used sets. I assume the non-moving walls were that way (like within the guesthouse the part where the stairs were) and the moveable ones (the kitchen or the bedroom walls) were montaged like described in the article? Reason why I'm asking is if they actually disassembled the permanent sets that often? Like we know thanks to your blog, a lot of other sets were built inside the permanent ones (like the main house living room set) so I wonder if the permanent ones were ever really disassembled until the show's final wrap? It sounds these permanent, non-moving set parts would have been a problem or at least a pain in the rear end to disassemble then...


Magnum Decorator said...

Hi Stranger! I don't ever recall a permanent set (meaning the guesthouse main room, Higgin's den, or the entry hall) ever being taken down. Slightly altered for flashbacks or "dreams," even added on to, but never taken down until the big dumpster in the sky came in 1988. Tom's bedroom was not a permanent set, nor were any of the other characters' offices. There is something called a "hog trough" or sort of a right angled 1x3 stiffener to keep more permanent walls together and certainly the stairs were well built and permanent. There were "escape" stairs to the guesthouse for entry / exit, but Higgin's stairway only went up to the catwalks with no other entry / escape point. That sound stage was an OSHA nightmare! I think the living room became a permanent set, but one that often had sets built inside of it.

dphoenixii said...

Hi Rick,
Thanks for all your posts. I really enjoy and look forward to
each post. I hope things get better, job wise. Thanks again for you time and energy on the posts.
Don P.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rick...Those walls are flimsy.I first noticed the wall construction in the 70's Sitcoms.It seems that every time a door was closed you could see the walls shake.Glad to see you are cashing some checks even though it is short lived.Look forward to your next post.

Magnum Decorator said...

While hoping that the job market for me here would improve, I saw an article in the paper yesterday about a movie planning to film here this fall. The plot: kids battle aliens from outer space and discover that spraying them with snot is their only weapon. It will not be staring Nicole Kidman or Tom Hanks. I hope I didn't spoil the plot for you!

Again, thank you for your continued support! BTW, snot spraying would come under Special Effects. I would just have to make sure things were snot proof!

Steven said...

I really do enjoy reading your blog. I came across it while searching for "LOST" information. Even though I was looking for that type of info, reading your blog is very interesting to me because of the incite it provides into the world of set design and decorating. You've done a lot of a fantastic work and I enjoy reading about your experiences.

Magnum Decorator said...

Hi Steven, Thanks a lot for saying that because it does mean a lot to me. Everyone likes positive feedback (especially on eBay!), but on something as anonymous as a blog, it gives me that push to keep it going. You can always email me at the blog email above. Thanks again, Aloha, Rick