MGM’s New York street is seeing massive preparation for a new TV series based off the popular “Planet of the Apes” movies.
When a group of studio laborers tell me this, I can’t believe it! These are my favorite movies in the theaters, and now they’ll be both on TV and filming in my backyard!
Set decoration is already underway. Truckload after truckload of concrete and broken cement is being dumped along the length of New York Street and Brownstone Street. It’s a massive undertaking.
It’s all there to make things look post-apocalyptic. The phony high-rises on the backlot have theoretically been damaged or destroyed by earthquakes. Humans exist, but live like rats in the decay, and apes are now in charge of this area code.
It will take a few weeks to get this set up to snuff, with the labor and art crews working side by side. Special effects is also busy on some gags, including “earthquakes” that will cause a subway to collapse.
Everyone on the set is friendly, which makes it easy for me and my pals to intermingle with the Fox crew. Work lights illuminate the set at night when it’s congested with various hazards, and MGM guards patrol the area after closing. But from 6am to 6pm, it’s just 20th Century Fox and a studio work force preparing the streets!
As preparation takes place on this end of the backlot, the opposite end is busy with painters painting the old trains. Most importantly, the whole set can be seen from my girlfriend Maureen’s bedroom window.
The art department is additionally focused on the movie, The Fortune, which is currently shooting on the Desilu lot. These same artists are are restoring some of the glitz and glamour that once existed on lot 2. It’s a complete spruce up!
I’m told that as soon as the train scenes are wrapped with Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson, the set will immediately flip over to “Planet of the Apes.”
The Fortune needs the station to look fancy and modern–plush looking trains, folks in suits and ties, etc. The “Apes” want the exact opposite. They want a hunting ground where they can eliminate rag-clad humans!
Apes on horseback with rifles are going to swarm this old train depot, but not until after The Fortune shoots it’s delicate, interactive dialogue scenes here. Complete opposite ends of the spectrum.
Little do I know at this time that my dad is working behind the scenes, trying to get me access to the “Planet of the Apes” set. It’s an opportunity that rarely presents itself, and I may have a big surprise waiting a few weeks down the line, but for now it’s still a dad’s secret from his son.
What’s fun is seeing the daily progression of the sets and how cool everything looks all lit up in the night-time! This place is normally very dark at night, I mean, very scary dark!
Word rapidly spreads through the school-kids network about what’s in store on the backlot. Even people I don’t normally care much for are suddenly showing an interest, asking for info, schedules, or even just to show them around. I’m popular, like some producer’s kid!
I expect there to be a large neighborhood turn out when the film trucks and equipment finally start rolling in. MGM security will have it’s hands full then!!!
Written and lived by Donnie Norden…