Burn Notice under pressure to find home
By Catherine Lackner
In the controversy over whether TV series "Burn Notice" will be allowed to renew its lease to film at the former Coconut Grove Exhibition Center, Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff instructed producer Terry Miller last week, "Once you learn that you have been provided another season, come and see me,"
But producers probably won't know whether the series gets the green light for another year until it's almost time to wrap up this year's filming Oct. 2, said Bob Lemchen, senior vice president, production, at Fox Television Studios. "It's not helpful for us. We're going to have to make a decision, because it would take close to a month to move."
Mr. Lemchen said he sent a letter July 16 to City Manager Johnny Martinez, requesting an extension and offering a rent increase, and has heard nothing back. "We ever offered to help evaluate filming facilities. We want to negotiate in good faith and to be good partners."
If negotiations fail, there could be big changes for the cast and possibly for the characters, too, he said.
"Once we say we're moving out of the Expo Center, if that's the outcome, you throw open the door to a lot of possibilities," he said. "If we're not able to base our show out of South Florida, the question is, what do the show's creators see, and what do the networks see, on a storytelling creative level?"
Michael Westen, the show's lead character, is written as a Miami native but might find himself fighting evil anywhere in the world, Mr. Lemchen said.
"If we're going to have the cost of moving, it opens up a lot in the way of creative development," Mr. Lemchen said. "Maybe Michael goes to Seattle, or to Buenos Aires. I'm being very speculative, but it would have to be something we'd look at."
Three of the lead actors — Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar and Sharon Gless — have homes in the Miami area, a factor Mr. Lemchen said would be considered.
Site selection in South Florida and elsewhere is already underway, he said, but once a site is chosen, physical improvements will take several months. The production company would have to have an operational set by the time filming resumes in the spring, "that is, if one were required," Mr. Lemchen said.
"I have no beef with the City of Miami," he said. "We want to stay where we are. We've had a great relationship that I hope has brought benefits to the city, as it has certainly has benefitted the world of "Burn Notice.'"
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