The TV show The Librarians has been filming in Portland for a few weeks and this just came out in our local Oregonian. You can catch some of the earlier episodes of the TV show on TNT. Last summer when I first found the film/sound stage that was used for Twilight we did notice that Leverage had also used it recently. The Librarians is currently being filmed with the same production people. Great read and another Portland Twilight connection.
CLACKAMAS — Noah Wyle is nailing it.
Take after take, Wyle spits out a rapid-fire page of dialogue, playing easily off an ensemble cast that includes John Larroquette, Rebecca Romijn and Christian Kane, while wearing a yellow rain slicker and overalls. The one time Wyle flubs his lines, he curses, laughs and apologizes as camera operators and technicians flood the soundstage and set up the shot one more time.
Then it’s back to it. Wyle and Larroquette give slightly different line readings on different takes, giving a subtle shading in one direction or another. Each time the scene ends with Romijn leading Wyle off the soundstage by the nose, and each time they’re smiling as they break character and move toward a cluster of foreign journalists watching on a monitor.
Welcome to Hollywood on the Clackamas. There’s a large production studio with the biggest blue screen stage in the Northwest hidden behind some warehouses off Highway 212. Parts of the first “Twilight” movie were filmed here, and so were many of the 77 episodes of “Leverage,” and, not coincidentally, so is “The Librarians,” a new TNT series starring Wyle, Romijn, Larroquette and Kane. They’ve been shooting here and around the state, about half the time on set and half on location, since March and are scheduled to wrap the 10-episode season by the end of the month. The first episode airs in December.
On Monday, they were working on a scene from Episode 9, “Apple of Discord,” in which Wyle’s character has to snap out instructions to his team, banter with Larroquette’s character about how the discord between eastern and western dragons is similar to the east coast/west coast hip-hop wars of the late 20th century, and do a little sparring-flirting with Romijn’s character. Between takes, the actors chat about what’s for lunch (Romijn hopes it’ll be fish sticks again) and wait patiently for the set to be prepped. After the last take, a woman from craft services arrives with a tray of snacks; she looks a little like a cigarette girl from a nightclub scene in a 1940s movie, only with a healthy product.
“The Librarians” is based on a series of three made-for-TV movies starring Wyle that appeared on TNT starting in 2004. He played Flynn Carsen, hired by the Metropolitan Public Library in Gotham as a librarian who is put in charge of protecting historical, magical relics such as the Arc of the Covenant and Pandora’s Box. In the first movie, the Spear of Destiny is stolen and he has to get it back. In the second, he has to find King Solomon’s Mines. You get the idea.
“The Librarian” movies get high ratings and remain in regular rotation on TNT (one of them was on last weekend). There’s been talk of another one over the years and when “Leverage” ended its five-year run in 2012, producer Dean Devlin vowed to make another series in Oregon. One thing led to another, and two years later, “The Librarians” is shooting in Clackamas, using much of the same crew that worked on “Leverage.”
The concept is simple, and executive producer and showrunner John Rogers explains it enthusiastically to a group of journalists from Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, France and other countries who are on a press junket. (Universal Networks International will show “The Librarians” in more than 100 countries and will air it within 24 hours of its TNT debut.) Carsen, Wyle’s character, has “always been a solo hero,” Rogers says, “and we have this great, giant magical library and we have all these fun adventures. I created ‘Leverage’ with Chris Downey and Dean Devlin and I’ve always liked team shows. I like shows where there’s a bunch of people working together, building a family, playing off each other’s problems and issues, and that drives the personal drama along with the external drama. And also, I’m a big conspiracy freak. I love legends. I love conspiracies, I love stories, I love weird science stories, lost cities, bizarre organizations.”
Long story short, the producers gave Wyle a team of helpers: Romijn plays a career military officer, Kane is an oil worker with a high IQ and a knowledge of art history, John Kim is a tech expert, Lindy Booth has synesthesia and visions, and Larroquette is Jenkins, their minder. If that sounds like “Leverage,” with Wyle playing the Timothy Hutton role leading a team of misfits with specialized skills, well, there is some overlap (starting with “Leverage” veteran Kane) but Rogers says the better comparison is “The X-Files,” only with a team.
“Every week a new mystery, a new bizarre situation presents itself,” he says. “We intentionally structured it, and not a lot of shows do this anymore, like the old X-Files episodes, where there’s always an opener that gives you a sense of what the mystery is and then they have to go unravel it along with the audience.”
One problem the producers have to unravel is Wyle’s availability. He’s in another TNT series, “Falling Skies,” and only appears in four episodes of “The Librarians,” giving the other actors plenty of room to shine.
What isn’t a problem for anyone is shooting in Oregon. It’s easy to be happy when the sun is out, but everyone involved swears they’re happy to be here. What are the advantages? Let Rogers count the ways.
“Portland means absolutely less costs. A combination of the usual tax credits that are in place in the state and also the breadth of locations. I mean, you can go from Portland, which is a very modern-looking city that we have doubled successfully for London, for Boston, for New York, Dubai….
“The city itself is a great city. It’s got all these great locations around it. It’s one of the oldest cities in America on the west coast. It’s got all the wilderness, the woods. On ‘Leverage’ we shot on Mount Hood. We were at 7,000 feet and we convinced people we were at 7,000 feet. It was the only call sheet I’ve ever had with avalanche warning on it. That was fun.
“And also, this crew is incredible. Randal Groves, who’s our production designer, he came up through construction, so unlike a lot of production designers who draw arty (stuff) and say ‘go build that,’ he can look at something and know exactly what is possible and not possible. He’s done incredible things. Critter Pierce, our costume designer, was on ‘Leverage,’ and she can pull any costume out of … she’s got incredible resources.
“What I like about television is … movies are like locusts. They show up and they consume everything and they disappear. TV shows are a relationship with a community. You show up and if you do it right it’s five years, six years, seven years with the same people. You learn each other’s abilities, you learn each other’s skills, and you’re all working together for the same goal. This Portland crew, pound for pound, is the best crew I’ve worked with in 20 years. Full stop. None better. We’re able to get incredible value out of them.”