Posted on February 20, 2003
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Gail Shister | It took an army of snowplows to get 'Hack' rolling
By Gail Shister
The mondo snowstorm has wreaked havoc with Hack.
The CBS drama, starring David Morse as a fallen Philly cop-turned-do-gooder cabbie, was forced to shut down production Tuesday because its fleet of 15-plus oversized trucks was snowed in.
To avoid another dead day (Monday was a holiday), executive producer Nan Bernstein hired an army of private snowplow contractors late Tuesday, after the city's snow emergency status had been lifted.
"The priority was the city, not us," she says. "Since they were using private contractors, too, we wanted to wait while the city was figuring out what it needed to do to keep moving."
Once roads were cleared, Bernstein went into action.
"We had to move. Nothing else mattered. Directors were booked for movies. Actors had been flown in. We had everybody scheduled to the wall. I told our location department, 'Get us out.' "
After "plowing and towing and scraping and back-hoeing all night," production resumed yesterday on Episode 18.
Outdoor scenes that were to have been shot in the Art Museum area Tuesday were postponed. Production yesterday took place at Hack's soundstage in the Philadelphia Civic Center.
Stay with us. Yesterday's location shoot was moved to today, necessitating a huge redeployment of staff to notify affected neighbors.
That can mean getting private vehicles off the street, which in this weather is a cosmic joke. To ease the pain, Hack hired plows to dig out cars and - as a bonus - dump the snow elsewhere.
"For us, this is a huge deal," says Sharon Pinkenson, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office. "We have to redo all the permits. We're dealing with neighbors being inconvenienced no matter how much notice we give them."
Hack's situation has an eerie deja-vu quality for Pinkenson.
The first show she ever worked on, Tom Fontana's pilot about Philadelphia firefighters, Philly Heat, was shut down for a day during the blizzard of March '93.
No details on the final tab for the snowplows or lost day, but whenever a series goes over budget, producers worry.
"I have to be very concerned about how this impacts the total number-crunching," Bernstein says. "In looking back, nobody will care if it's a snowstorm. History remembers what it wants to remember. It remembers the bottom line."
Coproduced by CBS and Paramount's Big Ticket Productions, Hack's 22 episodes are budgeted at about $2.2 million per episode, a production source says.
Does any of this worry Pinkenson? Weather's weather.