Major TV series will be filmed in parish for first time
The ensemble TV series will focus on the relationships between the wives of the men who were chosen to take part in the first NASA space program.
The series is based off of “The Astronaut Wives Club,” a bestselling non-fiction novel written by Lily Koppel. The book chronicles the experiences of the wives of nine astronauts who participated in the Apollo space program throughout the 1960s that culminated in the moon landing in 1972.
The ensemble TV series will focus on the relationships between the wives of the men who were chosen to take part in the first NASA space program. The series will also have a high-powered director helming the project in Nick Cassavetes, whose latest film “The Other Woman” was a box office smash.
Haryl Deason, general manager of Quixote Studios’ St. Rose location, said the period piece will require extra care from the producers.
“I can see a lot of 60s period sets, vehicles, wardrobe – that is going to be key in this,” he said.
“The Astronaut Wives Club” is set to start production in October and will shoot through February for a 10-episode run. It will air in the spring of 2015.
Deason said Quixote and Magnolia Companies, who owns the real estate where the studio operates, both put in a lot of work to meet the needs of ABC before the deal was signed. That included some last-minute work to prepare office space for ABC studio officials who will be based in the parish throughout the production.
Now that “The Astronaut Wives Club” is set to start filming in a month, the studios will be closed to other productions for a five-month period.
“ABC will take the entire facility, so the entire facility will be booked up and dedicated to the ‘Astronaut Wives Club,’” Deason said.
Deason estimated the cost of the production to be between $30 and $50 million for the entire run. Glen Smith, CEO of Magnolia Companies, said those expenditures on the production level will undoubtedly affect the parish’s tax base.
“They might say it is going to be a $50 million production, but of that you only get $10 million locally. In this particular case, because it is per episode, the more episodes the more money. If they go for another season, that will be another 12 or 13 episodes. At $5 million an episode, you can see how that grows,” he said.
Smith said there has also been increasing pressure to begin construction on a movie backlot that would include building numerous cityscapes. Those cityscapes would fill in for other areas of the country, and even the French Quarter, so that filmmakers would not have to travel to film scenes.
“If you can present somebody with a 500-foot-piece of the French Quarter in St. Charles Parish and they could come and shoot anytime they wanted based on their schedule, it is a big plus,” Smith said. “Louisiana can be Houston, New York, Los Angeles, D.C. - it really doesn’t make a difference. These guys are quite creative so whatever style they want to make it look like, they can.”
Eventually, Magnolia Companies and Quixote Studios are planning on building the largest studio facility in the south that will allow for a number of productions to take place simultaneously, but Smith said that plan will likely unfold over a number of years and only as they bring in more productions.
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