A daring TV series is out to go the distance
EmptyFormer "Dukes of Hazzard" star John Schneider is shooting a new series without a net.
Schneider is starring in "twentysixmiles," a six-episode, independently financed drama that's filming on Southern California's Catalina Island and searching for a distributor.
The actor plays a high-powered Los Angeles executive who moves to Catalina — "twenty-six miles across the sea," as the Four Preps song goes — to live near his kids after his wife divorces him.
The ensemble series is a longtime passion project of creator/ executive producer Rob Miller, who is pouring $5.5 million into the production in hopes of luring studio and network partners.
The budget comes largely out of Miller's pocket along with fellow first-time television producer Scott LeGrand and some outside investors. The project has managed to draw some notable names: George Segal, Jeffrey Tambor and James Denton are contributing cameos, with Jessica Tuck, Eric Lange and Daniel Quinn joining Schneider as regular cast members. Gersh is shopping the project to networks and studios.
Schneider, who also is shooting a recurring role on FX's "Nip/ Tuck," said he turned down a regular role in a major upcoming fall series to do "twentysixmiles."
"People in my camp said, 'You will remember this as the day you screwed up the rest of your career,' " said Schneider, who also is a co-executive producer on the project. "I said, 'Guys, I'm trying to unscrew it.' This is the most perfect role I've read for me since 'Dukes of Hazzard.' I'm hoping it's one of those occasions when the good guys win."
Miller said the WGA strike helped get the homegrown production moving, with industry professionals lending their time and expertise to a production that typically would have struggled to gain traction.
Indie TV series production has been on the rise since the end of the strike. Barry Levinson, Tom Fontana and Roger Moore are backing the independently financed two-hour TV movie/ backdoor pilot "The Saint," which is yet to be shopped to the networks.
Miller said he opted to produce six hours instead of a pilot to give the full scope of the series. That also would work should a buyer want to roll out the program as a trio of two-hour movies.
"We have a lot of quirky characters and really wanted to make something that could tell our full story," he said.
To take advantage of the Catalina scenery, the production is being shot with the acclaimed Red One HD camera, with Todd Turner ("Greek") directing four episodes. Taking a cue from "24," the production also is striving for an eco-friendly, low-emission shoot.
"I always said I'd stop when I run into an obstacle that stops me," Miller said, "and I haven't hit one yet." (partialdiff)