|Security breach: deep inside London’s CIA bunker|
Jack Bauer? He’s not so hard to find.
Monday’s debut of 24: Live Another Day (Fox, Global) would have you believe Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) has been a fugitive in Europe for four years, or since the last episode of Season 8 aired in 2010. Suddenly he turn up in London just as the U.S. president (William Devane, still getting these kinds of roles) is set to meet with the British prime minister (Stephen Fry).
The CIA, led by London boss Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt), sent swarms of agents onto the streets of London to find this most-wanted rogue agent but all they had to do was take the shuttle from the London hotel like the dozen or so reporters did last month on a press junket to the set of the series.
We were whisked to the West London location where the series is camped. Don’t get too specific about the whereabouts, we were asked. The producers didn’t want the place swarmed by lookyloos.
I can say the producers found a nice, big campus to set up shop. Inside one stealth studio building were a couple of massive interior sets, all thrown together by the British set design and construction team.
One was a very cool, brick and steel-looking CIA HQ, complete with giant monitors, computers and metal desks. Giant metal factory wheels handing high overhead were really made of foam and wood. An interrogation room was suitably dark and sinister.
|The CIA set: mix of high tech and old London factory chic|
The staircases were made of steel and had to be padded over to muffle the sound for filming.. Everything was built from scratch in eight weeks.
Not far away, another standing set depicted the interior of the U.S. consulate offices and residence in London. The actual building features a statue of U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower outside. The set featured plenty of details, with giant vases and other artifacts picked up at flea markets and off of antique dealers. The fireplaces actually worked. The unit publicist, who really is named Pamela Anderson, explained how most of the goodies are bought rather than rented because there’s more value in selling them off again later.
|Most of these outdoor scenes are giant photographs but 24‘s was painted|
This set consists of six or seven rooms. Outside the windows of the offices are scrims with outdoor scenes. One giant wraparound, which extends at least 60-feet long by 20-feet high, was hand painted with London landmarks as seen from Trafalgar Square.The artist did the whole thing in five days.
|Look ma, no hands|
Another view outside the office of the president showed Big Ben but with no hands of the famous clock tower. They would be digitally placed later to reflect different times of day, we were told. Time is always of the essence on 24.
Kiefer Sutherland, Benjamin Bratt, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Kim Raver and the other stars were interviewed on set in London and were happy to chat up the series. Find my interview with Sutherland here in this feature for The Canadian Press. I also was in on the round table interview with executive producer/director Jon Cassar. After directing 59 episodes of the series, more than anyone else by far, the raised-in-Canada Cassar is a terrific spokesman for 24. Follow this link to his comments here at this feature I wrote for The Toronto Star.
|The good thing about taking pics of furniture is they don’t need hair & makeup|