News Column

'Sleepy Hollow' cast, crew embrace production in Wilmington

September 23, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 23--It's beginning to look a lot like Wilmington on Fox's hit new series "Sleepy Hollow."

Starting tonight, the head-spinning show will air episodes shot in the Port City, giving local fans their first look at just how well the area is filling in for the Headless Horseman's famous stomping grounds.

Local production on the show began in late July after the pilot episode, which aired last Monday, shot in Salisbury in April. Since arriving, crews have set up shop in three sound stages at the EUE/Screen Gems studios where they have built elaborate sets including the interior of the Sleepy Hollow Police Department and the mysterious cave from which Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) emerges in the pilot.

Bill Vassar, executive vice president of the studio, said production on the show is moving smoothly at the facilities.

"(The crew) is extremely organized and buttoned up," Vassar said. "It is one of the most professional productions I've ever worked with."

Taking Washington Irving's classic tale "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" for a revisionist spin, the new "Sleepy Hollow" pulls Crane and his headless foe through time to the present where an apocalyptic threat adds new elements to their good-and-evil standoff.

The show has shot on-location at the Kenan Memorial Fountain, Brooklyn Arts Center and several private residences in Wilmington. In mid-August, crews visited the Cape Fear Hotel Apartments senior living complex to film a scene that features a character leaping from the window of a vacant ninth floor apartment. Property manager Betty Bailey said the show's presence had the complex buzzing with excitement.

"It is always enjoyable to have shows film here because the seniors get really worked up and happy about having crews around," said Bailey, who remembers when such shows as "Revolution" and "One Tree Hill" filmed at the apartments.

Cast members also have been vocal about enjoying their time in the Cape Fear area. Swedish actress Katia Winter, who plays Crane's witch wife Katrina, spoke highly of Wilmington at an advanced screening of the pilot Aug. 27 at the Regal Mayfaire Cinemas 16.

"It's a great place to be filming. It's beautiful. There is a beach, and the town is charming," Winter said. "The downtown area is lively and the people are very friendly."

Winter mentioned that she has also had the chance to travel when she is not filming, recently making the drive to explore Charleston.

Co-star Orlando Jones grew up in Greenville, S.C., so he already feels a connection to the area.

"It is hot as the dickens right now, but it is so beautiful. It always has been," said Jones, who plays Sleepy Hollow Police Captain Frank Irving. "It remains one of the more interesting beach communities around and it has a tremendous amount of history. There is nothing to hate about being in Wilmington."

Fans didn't shy away from tuning into the haunting show's premiere last Monday, which amassed an audience of 10.1 million viewers. But tonight's episode is an important one for the series' future as it goes against a slew of network shows gearing up for the new season. Airing in the 9 p.m. timeslot opposite "Hollow" is CBS' "2 Broke Girls" and new comedy "Mom," the back halves of NBC's "The Voice" and ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," plus ESPN's Monday Night Football.

Even as 'Sleepy Hollow" heads into the busy TV season, last week's premiere success is just another high point in an already banner year for the area, which recently hosted CBS's "Under the Dome," the Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie "Christmas in Conway" and the big-screen Melissa McCarthy comedy "Tammy," among other productions.

"This has just been a tremendous year for the production industry and the town," Vassar said.

Hunter Ingram: 343-2327

On Twitter: @WilmonFilm

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