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Costarring New York

The city is considered a key character in the NBC suspense series. So for the cast and crew, it's out into the boroughs and ... action!

September 17, 2006|Paul Lieberman | Times Staff Writer

Dinner says only 25% of the shooting is on the soundstages at Silvercup Studios in Queens, a converted bakery used by movies from "When Harry Met Sally" to "Gangs of New York." He, like Smilovic, sees a different metaphor, though, in "Kidnapped's" extensive location work: "the contrast between great wealth and poverty," as when one abductor holds his rich victim in a graffiti-covered building under the elevated train.

"A guy can live in a $40-million apartment on Park Avenue, you can live in a mansion in the sky, but you walk the street essentially like anyone else," Dinner says. "The city was always a character in our notion of what the show should be."

Because of city tax incentives, the team shoots within the boroughs, scouting for a remote house on Staten Island for a scene, even if it might be easier to find one in New Jersey. The Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting credits the tax breaks for an upsurge in local filming that includes several other new series: NBC's "30 Rock," with "Saturday Night Live's" Tina Fey as the head writer of a TV show; ABC's "Six Degrees," about strangers living together in the city; and "The Knights of Prosperity," ABC's comedy about a janitor who sets out to rob Mick Jagger's apartment. And that's not counting the ongoing series made here, most notably Dick Wolf's three "Law & Orders."

"Kidnapped" will face another three-headed TV franchise, CBS' "CSI: New York," in its 10 p.m. Wednesday slot, along with ABC's "The Nine," about the aftermath of a bank robbery.

Dinner figures they'll know after two weeks whether "Kidnapped" has found an audience and has the potential to duplicate Fox's blockbuster "24" -- or whether it will be 13 episodes and out. He says they're confident they'll get to play out the story they envision -- in 1,200 pages of script and 22 episodes -- but "if we have to end the story at the 13th, we can do that."

That's one reality of TV. Another is that there are millions more stories in the Naked City. Indeed, Dinner's 3-year-old son may have come up with one while here this summer. The director came back from shooting "Kidnapped" and the boy breathlessly told him, "I went to the Empire State Building and I went to the top and I was standing on a rocket ship." He was convinced the entire city had rocket ships on top of the buildings because of the water towers.




It's criminal

You get the memo? The one calling for crime dramas -- extra points for serialization -- and ominous, one-word titles?

"Smith": About a band of brilliant thieves -- but it's not all about the crimes they commit. CBS, Tuesdays.

"Kidnapped": An upper-crust New York family gets a shattering phone call: Their 15-year-old son has been -- yep, you guessed. NBC, Wednesdays.

"Runaway": A father wrongly accused of a crime must try to figure out who's trying to frame him. In the meantime, he must take his family and -- yep, you guessed it. CW, Mondays.

"The Nine": What happened to nine people held hostage for 52 hours in a bank robbery gone bad? ABC, Wednesdays.

"Standoff": FBI hostage negotiators by day, canoodlers at night. Fox, Tuesdays.

"Justice": Behind-the-scenes of a new trial each week. Fox, Wednesdays.

"The Knights of Prosperity": This hapless band of would-be thieves has set its sights on superstar Mick Jagger's Manhattan pad. ABC, Tuesdays.

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