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STARSKY AND HUTCH

A Funny Film
The bulk of Starsky & Hutch was shot on location, with production moving almost every day. These circumstances offered a creative and logistical challenge for Starsky & Hutch production designer Ed Verreaux. "One of the most difficult aspects of this show was that our Bay City is more fleshed out than the Bay City of the TV show – it has a level of mid-70s reality, depth and texture, and we had to create that atmosphere on every location,” he comments.

Shooting a period-specific film presents its own unique obstacles to a film crew. Normally, a location shoot on a city street might involve the coordination of a few hundred extras and the orchestration of dozens of cars and busses passing by – a challenge in itself. But when the film is set in 1975, those three hundred extras have to be provided with detailed wardrobe, makeup and hair that blends in with the period, and all vehicles must be appropriate to the era. On top of that, attention must be paid to signs, traffic lights and anachronistic background details such as satellite dishes that have to be removed from the frame. All the set dressing must be appropriate, including calendars, artwork, magazines and advertisements. In every respect it's a more complicated and difficult situation to control.

"The project looks deceptively simple but it's actually one of the hardest things I've ever worked on,” reveals Verreaux, who has previously designed such artistically demanding films as Mission to Mars, Jurassic Park III and The Scorpion King. "It wasn't so much about the design, it was about trying to fit all of the pieces of the puzzle together. Finding those things that don't belong – no touch tone phones, obviously nothing like cell phones or Evian bottles.”

Authenticity was also significant to the production because the filmmakers wanted the film's humor to come from the characters, not from their over-the-top environments. Verreaux relates, "When I first met with Todd, I said that it seemed to me that my job was going to be to create this reality for you and I'm going to do it really straight. I won't try to make everything look funny. I'll just make it look like a real world as best I can, and it will be up to you and your actors to make it funny. You don't open a funny door, you open a realistic door in a funny way.”

A good example is the characters' homes. Rather than serve as jokes themselves, they are indicative of each individual's personality. "Hutch is basically a slob and Starsky is an anal retentive, compulsive guy, but they're both macho in their own way,” says Verreaux. "Hutch is a cop who lives on the edge and he's not above taking a bribe and maybe pocketing some money. Starsky, on the other hand, is a second generation officer who's trying to be the best cop ever. His apartment is much cleaner and more orderly, and he has posters from Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry movies on the walls. It still has those browns and beiges – there were some pretty ugly colors that got used in the 70s and we tried to work with some of those.”

It was clear to Verreaux that as a wealthy pseudo-underworld crime figure, Reese Feldman would require digs befitting his sense of his own grandeur. "He's a smarmy yuppie, an upper middle class guy who thinks he can get away with murder. First we were talking about the idea that he lives in a brand new cookie-cutter kind of housing tract estate, but it just seemed like this guy needed to be a little bit larger. We looked in an older area of L.A. and found a house built in the 20s that really looks palatial. It helps inform us as to what Reese's lifestyle is – he's supposed to be a big criminal but he's just a cheesy guy with a lot of money.”

"We were very meticulous in a lot of detail with regard to keeping the era intact,” says Ludwig, "yet at the same time keeping it very organic to the piece and not making it a movie th

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