Does that mean you’ll see the series’ stars Rob Lowe and Fred Savage hanging out Downtown at Dawson Taylor’s? Probably not. The show is currently being filmed at 20th Century Fox Studios in Los Angeles.
But don’t feel slighted. It’s just the Hollywood way, says Robert Thompson, a trustee professor and head of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University in New York.
Iconic shows such as “Dallas,” set in Texas, and “I Love Lucy” and “Seinfeld,” both set in New York City, were all primarily filmed in Los Angeles.
“That doesn’t mean that the show can’t be textured with the feel and zeitgeist of a place,” Thompson says. “And if the show is a hit, it will carry much of the weight of what America thinks about Boise.”
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That’s for better or worse, he says. “But Idaho is pretty fresh territory for Hollywood, and there does seem to be this ever-quietly emerging Idaho chic out there.”
Lowe plays Dean Sanderson, an actor who returns to his hometown of Boise after eight successful years on the TV series “ The Grinder.” The Grinder is the handle for his character, a high-powered attorney who lets nothing stand in his way. Now that the series has ended, Dean decides to help his family’s law firm, which is headed by his dad Dean Sr. (William Devane) and also includes his younger brother Stewart (Savage), who is at odds with Dean Jr.
No law degree? No problem, Dean Jr. says, as he sets about fronting the law firm and winning cases through charm.
Will they pronounce our city’s name correctly? That remains to be seen (or heard, really). The half-hour comedy is still in the early production phase, so it’s not clear how much Boise or Idaho will be featured, or how authentic it will be, says Fox’s Alyssa McGovern, who is handling PR for the show.
Director/producer Jake Kasdan, known for “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” and “Bad Teacher,” and writers Andrew Mogel, Jarrad Paul and Nicholas Stoller were in a daylong writing session and were unavailable for comment.
But they did say through McGovern that they wanted a setting that “exemplified family values and felt as different as possible from the Hollywood lifestyle Dean leaves behind in the pilot. As the state capital, Boise also provides a dynamic backdrop with the potential for the state government and bureaucracy to be incorporated into future stories.”
Fox recently reached out to the Statesman to ask for permission to use the newspaper as part of the world of the show. So you might see the characters reading the Idaho Statesman or maybe see a mocked-up story or two under the Idaho Statesman masthead about some of The Grinder’s shenanigans.
The show has a prestigious cast. Savage was known as the adorable tyke that Peter Falk reads to in “The Princess Bride” and as the even more adorable Kevin Arnold who grew up in the TV series “The Wonder Years.”
Lowe came on the scene as one of the heartthrobs of the 1980s Brat Pack, a group of young actors that also included Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez and Demi Moore. Lowe received Emmy nominations for his work in the “The West Wing” and “Parks and Recreation.”
Devane is a seasoned actor who starred in “Knots Landing” and on “24,” where he played President James Heller.
The comedy is officially on the fall schedule and is set to premiere Sept. 29 on Fox.
Check out the trailer for “The Grinder” at IdahoStatesman.com.