BR, albino spiders star in Syfy’s ‘Arachnoquake’
If you never thought you’d see giant, fire-breathing, albino spiders crawling through downtown Baton Rouge, think again.
The faux arachnids are the non-human stars of local production company Active Entertainment’s newest project, “Arachnoquake,” shot primarily in the city last December.
The two-hour original film airs at 8 p.m. Saturday on the Syfy Channel (cable Channel 59) and also stars veteran actress Tracey Gold.
“We never had any real spiders on the set, it’s all digitalized and put in so I’m actually seeing it for the first time in the last couple (of) weeks,” Gold said from Los Angeles Tuesday. “I have phobias and stuff, but not of spiders. Now if it were a giant rat ... that would scare me,” she said, laughing.
In the film, set in the New Orleans area, oil company “fracking,” a technique used to release petroleum from deep in the Earth, is causing rare earthquakes in the state, disturbing the environment of the new breed of spiders. The deadly creepy crawlies are being forced to the surface and wreak havoc all over, leaving bodies in their path. Gold portrays a high school science teacher who figures out that if the queen spider can be decimated the rest of the super-spider group won’t be able to survive. “They showed us pictures while we were shooting it so we had an idea of what they (the spiders) were going to look like,” Gold said. “It’s the first time I’ve done anything like that where you act but you don’t have the object there, it’s all going to be added in later. I hadn’t done a lot of that stuff.”
Gold, best known for her role as Carol Anne Seaver in the 1980s TV sitcom “Growing Pains,” has had a host of other guest-starring roles in series and some 30 TV movie roles and feature films “The Best of Times” and “Shoot the Moon.”
“I had such a great time (in Baton Rouge). It’s a great city and everyone is so nice and gracious. And the production company that did this movie, they’re just awesome and they’re total pros,” she said. “It was just a really positive, great experience. And the cast was terrific too.”
Gold, a wife and mother of four boys ages 4, 8, 13 and 15, said she isn’t really a science fiction fan, but a couple of her sons are.
“I’m a girlie girl. I watch all the ‘Real Housewives,’ ‘Say Yes to the Dress,’ the cooking shows, all that sort of stuff ... total guilty pleasures,” she said.
Gold, who successfully battled anorexia in the early 1990s, is now an avid crusader against the dangers of the eating disorder.
“I just did a speech recently in Winnipeg, Canada. I definitely try to help as much as I can, you know, and get the word out that there needs to be more education, conversation, and it’s not something that’s going to change overnight but hopefully just talking about it and sharing your experience helps people.”
Baton Rouge native Daniel Lewis, along with Ken Badish, produced “Arachnoquake” and also spoke Tuesday from Los Angeles.
Lewis was raised in Prairieville, and graduated from Parkview Baptist and LSU. He’s been with Active Entertainment since 2009.
Baton Rouge stands in for New Orleans throughout most of the movie, which was also shot in Sorrento, New Orleans and Lafayette.
“We shot a couple of days in New Orleans to get some nice shots of the French Quarter and stuff, to sell the New Orleans look,” Lewis said.
Sarita’s Grill and Cantina on the Diversion Canal in St. Amant served as the headquarters for on-the-water shooting, the cantina’s outdoor area representing Lacrosse Adventure Tours, he said.
And as for those nasty spiders, Active Entertainment’s visual effects team based in Lafayette spent months designing the spiders’ size, color and appearance. In a climatic moment in the film, one of the giant predators “crawls up” downtown’s Chase Bank building.
“These movies are for a specific audience and we hope that you can just sit back for two hours and shut your brain off and have a good time,” Lewis said.
LPB takes Tellys
Louisiana Public Broadcasting won two bronze Telly Awards, one for its “Louisiana Public Square” program “Beyond the Spill: A Gulfwatch Special” and the other for its documentary “Native Waters: A Chitimacha Recollection.”
The awards honor outstanding local, regional and cable TV programs and commercials.
“Beyond the Spill” was a July 2011 program that looked at the challenges facing the Gulf Coast Region a year after the capping of the BP Oil Spill. In addition to a panel of experts, the special also included reports from the Gulfwatch member TV stations in Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi about the recovery efforts in their states. Audience members also had a chance to voice their opinions and question the panel of experts.
The program’s hosts were “Louisiana: The State We’re In’s” Shauna Sanford and LPB President/CEO Beth Courtney. The program was produced by Kevin Gautreaux and Al Godoy and directed by Jodie Fontenot.
“Native Waters” tells the story of the Native Americans who were among the first people of Louisiana, tracing their ancestry back 8,000 years in the Atchafalaya River Basin.
The tribe’s story is related by author and keeper of his family’s oral tradition Roger Stouff, a fisherman descended from “a long and distinguished lineage of fishermen within a nation of fishermen.” He provides native stories, beliefs and perspectives about this important and often-overlooked people.
The documentary was produced and directed by Tika Laudun, co-written and narrated by Roger Stouff and co-produced and co-written by C.E. Richard. Rex Fortenberry was the photographer and editor for the program. Special assistance was provided by Chitimacha Cultural Director Kimberly Walden.
Farm on commercial
Wall’s Alligator Farm in Springfield is being featured on national TV commercials for the new GE French door refrigerator.
In the commercials, one of the refrigerators and a generator secured in a pickup truck are hauled from Louisville, Ky., to outside Austin, Texas, to bring fresh food to wildlife biologist Ron Thompson in the field.
The crew, which includes chef Ben Sergeant of the Cooking Channel’s “Hook, Line and Dinner” and GE engineer Justin Berger, stops at locally owned farms including Wall’s, ranches, farmer stands, and a dairy along the way to pick up fresh food to prepare a surprise meal for Thompson. The new refrigerator campaign can also be followed at http://freshpedition.com.
Worth a look
ANNOYING ORANGE: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Cartoon Network (cable Channel 33). The YouTube fruit you love to hate now has his own show. Yes, the Annoying Orange, with more than 1 billion Web views, will go on various adventures with his buddies (yes, he has friends) in the new animated series. Guest voices include Michael Clarke Duncan, Jeffrey Tambor, Tim Curry, Tony Hawk, Billy Dee Williams and Leah Remini.
DANGER BY DESIGN: 8 p.m. Monday, Science (cable Channel 101). The six-part series follows Nik Wallenda and his famous acrobatic family as they take on daredevil acts requiring science, skill and discipline to survive. In the first episode, Nik Wallenda attempts to traverse a wire between two towers at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas.
8 FOIS DEBOUT (EIGHT TIMES UP): 10 p.m. Wednesday, TV5 Monde USA (cable Channel 266). The quirky French comedy (subtitled in English) centers on Elsa, a divorcee down on her luck who can’t get custody of her 10-year-old son until she gets a real job. Her neighbor, Mathieu, is also looking for work, and their shared situation brings them together as they both face possible homelessness.
LOUISIANA YOUNG HEROES: 7 p.m. Thursday, WLPB, Channel 27 (cable Channel 12). Video profiles of the winners and highlights from Louisiana Young Heroes Day will be featured. The show re-airs at 4 p.m. Saturday.
ODDITIES: SAN FRANCISCO: 8 p.m. Saturday, Science (cable Channel 101). A spin-off of the popular series “Oddities,” the new West Coast version unfolds inside the antiques shop Loved to Death on the city’s famed Haight Street. Store owner Audra and sales associates Wednesday and Korri handle the weird characters and wacky things they bring into the shop.
CRAFT WARS: 9 p.m. June 26, TLC (cable Channel 48). Tori Spelling will be host and executive producer for the new competition series in which three contestants face off in crafting challenges, with two making it to the final “master craft” challenge. The winner gets $10,000.
LOUISIANA PUBLIC SQUARE: 7 p.m. June 27, WLPB, Channel 27 (cable Channel 12). The causes, problems and impact of Louisiana’s high obesity rate will be examined in an encore showing of the segment “Weighty Matters: Louisiana’s Obesity Problem” The show re-airs at 4 p.m. July 1.
Louisiana Public Broadcasting provided information for this column. Television stations with news about programming, on-air reporters or personalities should fax information to (225) 388-0351 or email jbergeron@ theadvocate.com.