Curious tourists and onlookers snapped photos and crowded the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street yesterday to watch the filming of a pilot TV show in front of Amoeba Records.
Dozens of actors, extras and television crew members worked from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the sidewalk site, perfecting an outdoor cafe scene for a pilot drama called "Traffic," which one of the creators said will be about young journalists at a "Rolling Stone-like magazine" in San Francisco.
"The idea is that it's about journalists who have a point of view and say what they feel," said Michael Angeli, the show's co-creator, writer and producer.
The pilot filming, which was monitored by Berkeley police officers, caused one lane of Telegraph Avenue between Dwight Way and Haste Street to be closed off. In addition, several equipment trucks lined Haste Street.
Regular Telegraph Avenue street vendors, professional actors, as well as hired-on-the-spot extras filled the background of the scene, while bubble machines, rainbow streamers and light fixtures helped create the "atmosphere."
While the colorful scenery set up by the Los Angeles production company drew crowds of onlookers, Angeli said that not much effort was put into creating an atmosphere foreign to that of Telegraph Avenue.
"We chose Berkeley because it's colorful and lends itself to exteriors," Angeli said. "We didn't go out of our way to create the '60s it was just here. Berkeley's a pretty retro place; it hasn't changed a lot."
The scene filmed on Telegraph Avenue yesterday was set in San Francisco and featured several extras like professional actor Kevin Cooper, who was costumed in the traditional hippie garb of bell-bottoms and peace-sign face paint.
"We got here at (8 a.m.). They set you with makeup and an outfit. They feed you well. It's great," Cooper said during a break between takes.
Angeli said that the Berkeley residents and street vendors who participated in the filming were very enthusiastic.
"It's the making of making movies on the streets. It's really contagious," he said.
The television show, he added, will almost certainly come back to Berkeley to film scenes in the future.
"We may come back to Berkeley. The campus is here, so we plan on (doing scenes) at UC Berkeley," Angeli said. "The spirit is communal and the people here are great. It hasn't changed much, and last time I was here, I was on window paint."
Angeli, who has held reporting positions at Details and Esquire magazines and has written screenplays for major cable networks, said that "Traffic" will most likely be picked up as a weekly series by the Fox network for the fall season.
He said that since Josh Brand, the show's co-creator and co-writer, has created hit shows like "Northern Exposure" and "I'll Fly Away," "Traffic" will most likely be a success.
Television stars that were at the filming on Telegraph Avenue included Lisa Blount, who co-starred in the film "An Officer and a Gentleman," and Academy Award-nominee Frances Fischer, Angeli said.
He added that "Traffic" has also been filming scenes for its pilot episode in the streets of San Francisco and at a gymnasium for "the gym scene" in Oakland.
©1998 The Daily Californian