While reading about all those new shows on TV everyone’s talking about, I could not help but notice how many are set in San Francisco. I find this entertaining for two reasons. One is that I’m always happy to see a film set in my hometown and am a walking encyclopedia of film locations (Heck, I could offer tours for Bullitt, Vertigo, and Tales of the City, to name a few). The other is that it once again reinforces what I’ve learned about the infamous San Francisco/Los Angeles “feud” – while people in San Francisco are quick to rip into L.A., folks down south really like Our Fair City, unaware of said emotion-filled feud.
Now, it seems, L.A.’s being in like with us has filtered into Hollywood decisionmaking. So far, in addition to the return of Monk(which pretends to be in SF but is filmed down south), there are at least three fall series coming up set in San Francisco. They are:
— NBC’s Journeyman, about a guy who finds out he can phase back and forth in time. Superficially similar to the infamous “Quantum Leap,” the preview featured an only-in-San-Francisco moment: waking up to find a Real Cable Car is about to run over your head. However, it also had a scene where you can see the inimitable Los Angles flag flying in the background.
— ABC’s Eli Stone, about a hardass lawyer who starts seeing “visions,” and thinks he’s a prophet. Loyal readers of the N-Judah Chronicles may remember the pictures I took when they were filming earlier this year.
— ABC’s Women’s Murder Club, based on the novel by James Patterson. Basically, it seems like it’s Sex In the City meets Law and Order, or something. Again, they have obligatory shots by the bridge, because as we all know, all murders in SF happen within spitting distance of The Bridge.
Being the kind of person I am, I’ll be checking out each to see how badly they screw up geography (think the car chase in Basic Instinct) and the like. That said, I have to say that I’m happy to see our fellow citizens Down South like our city so much they want to at least pretend to set TV shows here.
None, however can compare to my all-time favorite, The Streets of San Francisco, which was pretty much entirely filmed on location in San Francisco. Sure, there were a few times they filmed near my childhood home in Burlingame, but who could tell?
This was possible only because Quinn Martin was committed to filming entirely in San Francisco, and built a soundstage on property owned by Ron Kaufman on the waterfront. Since then, there has been no permanent sound stage in the Bay Area available for TV or film production. That’s why most of these shows come into town for a short time, film all their exterior shots, and leave.
Lately, it’s been fashionable for politicians, and wannabe politicians to talk about how a measly tax credit will somehow make giant mega-corporations move film production to Our Fair City. It makes for lovely mail pieces and sounds great. Hey! We’re doing something for “jobs” in town! Yay us!
The problem is, though that a) these “tax credits” haven’t worked out as promised and b) the California cities experiencing a boom in film production all have sound stages.
Until we get some sound stages and the like, the chances of bringing lots of “jobs” and a plethora of film and TV production to our city, no matter how picturesque it is, are not that great. Which is too bad, since I was really hoping someone would do a Battlestar Galactica-like reimagining of “Streets of San Francisco” and do it right.
The politicker that gets that done, gets my vote for sure!