The streets, valleys and piers of Oakland will be the backdrop of a Danny Glover vehicle in mid-March titled "The Henry Lee Project," a private-eye television drama set in Oakland.
The Oakland Film Office said the pilot is being produced by CBS and Spelling Television, and will run in the fall if it is picked up by the network.
Ami Zins, coordinator for the Oakland Film Office, said Glover will play a former Oakland police officer who now works as a private eye. The show will deal with fictional community crime issues. She said there will be a background story with Glover's character, a mystery element the show's writers are still developing.
Best known for his role as Sgt. Roger Murtaugh in the "Lethal Weapon" action films, Glover is a Bay Area native. "I would guess that Danny had a lot to do with it because he has a lot of family here," Zins said. "I would like to think it's a combination of quality of life and a creative decision. The Bay Area is so rich interculturally, it makes for a very good place to write stories."
The show will be filmed entirely in Oakland. Locations throughout the city, including Jack London Square and residential areas in East and West Oakland, are still being scouted.
"They're in a scramble right now because they're hiring people left and right to get set up," Zins said.
Paul Marks, the producer of the show, has worked on TV projects including "Dawson's Creek," "The Shield" and "MDs." He produced a TV pilot called "Partners" three years ago, which was filmed in Oakland, but its premise was not set in the city. The pilot was not picked up by networks.
Filming will take place for two to three weeks, all on location. If the show is picked up in May, the production company will be back in the summer to continue shooting for the average 13-episode fall television season.
Zins said the economic impact of filming in the city will be significant. She estimates $20,000 will go to the city's general fund just for the pilot, and that does not include income from the employment of local staff and work from local businesses.
The Oakland Film Office said the "Partners" pilot was made for less than $4 million, most of which was spent in the city.
Last August the Oakland Film Office estimated Oakland workers and businesses earned $4.1 million from film productions for the year 2002.
Oakland has been the site of numerous film productions and commercials in recent years.
©2003 Oakland Tribune