FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla.–Where am I? I find myself waking up and asking that question more often than not these days. Especially on this trip to Florida. I’m here to visit the set of Graceland, an upcoming USA network series picked up in Canada by Bravo. It’s about hunky, ripped, good looking dudes and fit and fabulous babes who happen to be DEA cops and who are stationed in a cool surf pad overlooking the Pacific somewhere near Malibu, Calif. It’s based on a true story. Sure it is. Vancouver, you think you’ve got it tough? Here’s how bad runaway production has got in Los Angeles: the story is set in Malibu, minutes from the major studios and much of the talent in L.A., yet this series is shot clear the other side of America in Florida. Just to rub it in, it is shot near Hollywood, Florida. How sick is that?? Another USA series, The Glades, is also shot down here. A couple of the stars, of course, are Canadian. Brandon Jay McLaren (Fallen Skies) is from Vancouver, as is Serinda Swan (Breakout Kings).
What to do with left over concrete tubes
Neither had any complaints about the weather, saying it has been nice and warm in these parts this year. Daniel Sunjata (Rescue Me) and Broadway star Aaron Tveit (Catch Me If You Can) also star. USA and Fox TV did not scrimp on the set, which I had a tour of Thursday with several other TV reporters. The DEA den is amazing. Sure there are surf boards and throw rugs but the art on the walls is gallery level, including the wall of old cassette tapes up in one of the bedrooms. Finally I know what to do with all those interview tapes from the ’80s and ’90s. Another cool touch was putting the Hi-Def flatscreen TV inside a vintage crate, a nice new vs. old style mash-up. The set also has a state of the art kitchen, a beautiful Japanese garden entrance and a Jungle Room. Hey, it’s Graceland. (The place was supposedly once the home of a drug lord obsessed with Elvis.)
The ’70s called they want their tapes back
The set builders did an amazing job of dressing the outside areas to make it look like this spacious oceanfront really was on an oceanfront. Further driving home the point that these shows can be shot from a Mississauga warehouse or a converted barn in North Carolina as they can be in places not so aggressive with their tax breaks. The press manager I was traveling with, Fox Int’l’s Barry Price, pointed out something obvious I hadn’t put together before: most of USA’s show are set in either New York or somewhere warm and near the ocean. That includes Suits, shot in Toronto doubling for mid-town Manhattan, a pristine mid-town peopled with beautiful people in beautiful suits. Covert Affairs is set in Washington (but shot in Toronto) but that series is about all kinds of exotic destinations around the world. Burn Notice, says Price, was originally set in Atlanta before a smart USA exec said n’uh-uh, set it somewhere warm and exotic. Hello, Miami. They’re wish fulfillment fantasies, cast with beautiful people viewers would love to hang with or even be. Can we all be that shallow? Yes, actually. Even walking through the set, every single reporter said the same thing: I want to live here. Graceland is set to air this summer.
The lucky drug busters from Graceland call this home