Strike Halts Production of TV's 'K-Ville'

The Hollywood writers strike is shutting down productions in Los Angeles — and New Orleans too. K-Ville, a drama new this season on Fox, is set in New Orleans and has been shooting there for months. Now producers are out of fresh scripts and will stop shooting.

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The stagehands' union contends it could find employment for many of its people in television or film. However, the Hollywood writers strike has shut down production on many shows and that strike has had reverberations far from New York and Los Angeles, for example, the cast and crew of the FOX program, "K-Ville," set in New Orleans, shot the last of their material this past Thursday.

Eve Abrams reports that "K-Ville," like so much of New Orleans, is now stuck in a holding pattern.

(Soundbite of boat)

EVE ABRAMS: A wedge of reef rises above the water, and two men are trapped on top of it, calling for help. Anthony Anderson, who plays a New Orleans police officer, circles the reefs in a boat, deciding which of the two men to rescue. As it turns out he picks the wrong one. The bad guy lives. The good guy perishes.

Mr. ANTHONY ANDERSON (Actor): You know what the (unintelligible) do? When they've got the shot, let's ask everybody to step off but our two actors. Leave them for a beat, and I'll get you that shot.

ABRAMS: "K-Ville" infused an estimated $17 million into the local economy and provided solid ongoing work to people in the industry. Even though a lot of natives made fun of the show's portrayal of daily New Orleans life, local ratings have been good. Not so in the rest of the country.

Bo Harrison(ph), a New Orleans native who works on props for "K-Ville," says he has mixed feelings about the strikers who put him out of a job.

Mr. BO HARRISON (Crew, "K-Ville"): On one side, you can understand the writers' complaint and, you know, there's a new medium and are not being compensated for that. And on the other side, you know, two years ago, I was gutting houses so I don't necessarily have a lot of sympathy for people that have to struggle for their money or whatever because we've all been down that road.

Ms. LADITRA BALDWIN(ph) (Make-up Artist, "K-Ville"): It's terrible. You know, we don't need that in New Orleans. We're still dealing with FEMA. We're still dealing with insurance. We're still dealing with a whole lot of unresolved issues, and this doesn't help you or motivate you to be in the city.

ABRAMS: Laditra Baldwin(ph) lost her make-up studio in New Orleans East as well as the roof of her West Bank house to Hurricane Katrina. She moved back to New Orleans from Memphis, Tennessee, in order to be "K-Ville's" key make-up artist.

Ms. BALDWIN: I still have boxes that are not unpacked so I'm going to take some time to unpack boxes and just be prayerful and hopeful that will, you know, the strike will end and we'll be back to work. But that's all I can do.

ABRAMS: Like many New Orleanians working on "K-Ville," assistant cameraman, Michael Charbonnet(ph) had geared up for an entire season of work. Now, he's worried that the low ratings combined with the break in the filming may give FOX an excuse to drop the show.

Mr. MICHAEL CHARBONNET (Assistant cameraman, "K-Ville"): We're worried about getting cancelled. And guess what, this strike happens so we're out of work. So there's a lot of crew people out of work, and it's a good excuse for FOX to say, we gave it a shot and let's get out of here. Yeah. It's a shame, I mean, because it provided jobs here and, you know, that's not - "K-Ville" was kind (unintelligible) so it's kind of neat.

ABRAMS: Charbonnet is not alone. A lot of crew members say they'll try to find work on movies being filmed in the area. However, if the strike continues for many months, that work could dry up, too.

For NPR News, I'm Eve Abrams in New Orleans.

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