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ABC drama filmed in R.I. set to premiere

Staff Writer
Thursday, September 16, 2010

People familiar with Rhode Island sights will want to add a new television show to their list this year. “Body of Proof,” a new drama on ABC, has been filming in and around Providence since July, and will most likely premiere at the end of October, said Matthew Gross, an executive producer of the show.  

The drama, which stars Dana Delany of “Desperate Housewives,” is about a workaholic Philadelphia neurosurgeon with plenty of personal problems who sustains a hand injury in a car accident. She can no longer operate on the living, but “she can operate on the dead,” said Gross, so she becomes a medical examiner. Each week, she and her fellow detectives will solve crimes, he added, but she will also be seeking personal redemption for her past. He said the show is in some ways a female version of “House,” though featuring a medical examiner.  

The show is set in Philadelphia, but is filmed in Rhode Island. Shows are often filmed in cities other than where they take place, said Patrick Preblick, an ABC publicist for the show. Providence was one of “a number of places” where filming could have been possible, he said, and there were “terrific fiscal reasons” for choosing Rhode Island.

Gross said he calls Providence “Providelphia” for how well it has worked as a substitute for Philadelphia. The production was lured by what he called “incredible tax incentives” that helped bring down the bottom-line cost. Thanks to the “magic” of filmmaking, set extensions or computer generated images can be added to shots to make them look like they were filmed elsewhere, Gross said.  

A pilot for “Body of Proof” was filmed in R.I. in April, and — after the network ordered 12 more episodes in May — production returned to the area in July, Preblick said.  

Much of the filming took place in a production facility in nearby Warwick. The sets used images of the Philadelphia skyline in windows to help establish the location, Preblick said.  

Other R.I. filming locations included Roger Williams Park, Iron Works Tavern in Warwick, Rhode Island College, Twist Restaurant in Warwick and Bold Point Park in East Providence, according to Preblick.  

“If Rhode Islanders watch (the show), they’ll definitely see local spots in Rhode Island,” Preblick said.  

While some scenes have been filmed in the areas around Brown, there has not been any filming on the campus proper, Gross said. “We would love to shoot on Brown locations,” he said, though it can be difficult for television shows to get approval from the University to shoot on campus.   

Gross also pointed to the economic benefits of the show for the state. “We’ve spent a ton of money here,” Gross said. “We’re offering jobs and goods and services.”  

Many cast and crew members and extras were drawn from the local talent pool, Preblick said, though he did not have exact figures on the number of jobs the show provides.

Being in Providence has its advantages for the actors, Delany — the lead actress — said at an ABC Press Tour event in August. “The great thing about being on location is it really makes the actors form a team because we’re all new in town. … So we’ve all been to the mall a lot together,” she said.

Providence is a “well-kept secret” in the filming world, Gross said. “It’s got a tremendous ability to double” for other cities, he said. The city encompasses many different looks and styles “within spitting distance,” he said. “We’ve had a great experience. I will shout it from the mountaintops.”

“Body of Proof” will continue to film the 12 episodes ordered by the network through December. If the network orders another nine episodes, the show will continue to film through April, Preblick said.  

Currently, the network plans to air the show on Fridays at 9 p.m., with a premiere on Oct. 22, Gross said. But the network has been so pleased with the product that it is discussing moving “Body of Proof” to another night — a move that could affect the date of the premiere, he said.

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