Fox to spend $500,000 to rebuild Grove facility for TV show
By Risa Polansky
Twentieth Century Fox will spend a half-million dollars setting up shop at the Coconut Grove Convention Center to produce an 11-episode series for cable-television channel USA Network, said one of the show's producers.
The production company is renting about 100,000 square feet of the long-empty facility, and "it's minimal what we're going to change," said Terry Miller, unit production manager for the series.
Fox plans to build interior sets for the series, "Burn Notice," slated to premiere on USA in June. The show will star Jeffery Donovan as a former government spy, veteran character actor Bruce Campbell and former "Cagney & Lacey" co-star Sharon Gless.
"There are relatively few real sound stages in South Florida," Mr. Miller said. "This worked perfectly for us — we're converting it to a sound stage without essentials like soundproofing. We are investing some money to build offices for our production staff and art department and all of our offices for department heads.
"Everything we purchase and rent is going to be within an orbit of a couple of square miles," he said. "The City of Miami is going to benefit from a good deal of our expenditures" for such things as set-construction materials, wardrobes and hotel rooms for visiting directors and guest stars.
The production will use a local crew and some local actors among its 120-member staff, he said. Non-locals will be "housed in various locations in Miami and Miami Beach."
Filming is to begin April 30 and continue through mid-August, Mr. Miller said.
Robert Parente, director of the Miami Mayor's Office of Film and Cultural Affairs, said he sees the production as "a great economic boost to the Grove" and the city.
"We're losing a lot of work and a lot of publicity" to a lack of production facilities, Mr. Parente said. "We'd really love to keep more production here in South Florida."
Mr. Miller said the production would return to Miami should the show get picked up for a second season. "The script was written for Miami. Hopefully, if America likes it, we'll do more episodes," he said. "If the city would let us stay there, we'd be happy to stay there."
A master plan for the Grove's waterfront that calls for the demolition of the center was to come before the city's waterfront advisory board this week. District Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said he would like the building razed as soon as possible to make way for green space and a community center.
"I'd like to see (the production) merely as a stopgap measure," he said.
Mr. Miller said if the show is renewed the center is demolished, "we'd have to pick up everything and move it somewhere else. If the show goes back to LA, we'd have to ship everything back except the offices."
If the show gets cancelled, he said, Fox would leave the facility intact for the city to use. "It's going to be a great little production center we're building with great offices," Mr. Miller said. "We're making great use of the space."