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So convincing has cable series Burn Notice gotten with its core fans, that co-star Gabrielle Anwar gets emails from female viewers asking her how they can “maim or otherwise off their husbands.”
“At first I was shocked. Now I have an arsenal of responses for them,” Anwar, who plays the weapon-wielding Fiona on the offbeat spy series on USA.
And Sharon Gless, who plays the chaining-smoking megalomaniac mother of Jeffrey Donovan‘s character Michael Westen on the show, said viewers often write her saying, “We love you, but please stop smoking.”
Gless, who is a smoker, duly lit up on the improvised poolside podium alongside others responsible for the series Monday morning as the NATPE trade show in Miami got underway.
“Plus, smoking’s a fun device to use emotionally on the show,” the actress added.
Shot mostly in and around Miami, Burn Notice is really about “a spy as a person — that’s what interested me,” exec producer Matt Nix told a 100-odd Natpe attendees during the freewheeling, joke-cracking session.
“It’s not just seeing someone run around with a gun in Turkey,” he said in explaining why ihis take on spies seems to work.
Two broadcasters passed before USA’s entertainment president Jeff Wachtel picked up the show several years ago.
“I was harangued by one of our development execs until I did. No one right after 9/11 wanted a spy show,” Wachtel said.
And being a cabler, they make it for less money than a broadcaster would, though they didn’t say how much. (Rebates in Florida help too and the actors don’t seem to mind the location.)
“I like working in cable because it’s freer. It’s a little more daring. And you have more viewers!,” Gless, who’s been on TV for decades, quipped.
Lensing in Miami, Nix said, has advantages and challenges. But unlike shows that just do B-roll here and move on, “You’re not obligated to show iconic Miami, all art-deco and what-not; the place has a wide variety of looks: You can’t just fake the water treatment plants on Key Biscayne.”
Or, as Anwar put it about Miami: “You don’t have to pretend you’re warm when you’re freezing in a bikini!”
And how about all those explosions and special effects, the moderator of the session asked?
No verbal explanation needed from the podium: Instead, all hell broke lose then as Donovan’s stand-in and the show’s stunt team improvised a whole series of punch-ups and explosions for the crowd.
“See, it’s not CGI,” Nix said.
Meanwhile, somewhere down in Columbia, South America, Donovan and Bruce Campbell are shooting a TV movie about the character Sam’s backstory. Nix goes to join them later this week.
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