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About The Sets And Locations
The most important set was the Embrey house located on the back lot of Universal Studios. Sitting at the very end of the cul-de-sac on Elm Street, just around the bend from the Desperate Housewives' Wisteria Lane, the mid-century modern house was designed by production designer Neil Spisak in conjunction with art director William Hawkins and lead set designer Jeff Markwith.

Built from scratch by construction coordinator John Hoskins and his crew, the house is based on a mélange of styles but most closely resembles a streamlined modern California home that has been updated through the years, with its fieldstone and wood exterior, sleek lines, and open spaces. Spisak took the same tremendous care with the planting around the exterior, selecting split-leaf philodendron, iceberg roses and additional greenery with softer, rounded edges effectively nestling the house into the surrounding sun-dappled landscape. The house is a permanent structure with running water and electricity that will remain on the Universal lot and eventually be used for other projects. Together, the art, construction and set decorating departments assembled a home that everyone on the cast and crew were willing to purchase despite its not having a bathroom or a completed second floor.

"I thought it was a real house,” laughs Jason Bateman. "In fact, I called my wife and said, ‘I found our dream house!' The bad news is that it's on the Universal lot so even though the security will be great, I don't think we'll be able to get a clicker for the gate.”

According to Spisak and set decorator Rosemary Brandenburg, the symbolism heavily sprinkled throughout the house was Peter Berg's idea. He requested the duo research mythology and incorporate their findings into the design.

"Pete wanted a deep back-story for his characters,” says Brandenburg, "so I went through the many cultures of female goddess figures from Rome, Greece, all of Europe, Asia, Africa, and even Native America. We wanted to get the whole pantheon going but we didn't want to hit people over the head with it so we had to be selective and make sure the objects would make sense in a home.”

Not only did Brandenburg tell a story with the art she selected, from paintings to sculpture and busts, even the books, musical instruments and furniture hold clues to the plot's back-story. Creating a balance between Mary, Ray and Aaron, Brandenburg took each character into consideration as she built a composite of the Embrey family home. She also secured multiples of each piece of furniture and each accessory given the extensive stunt and effects work taking place in the house.

"We needed the rooms to flow given the open nature of the space,” she says, "from Mary's kitchen and living room, you can see that she's definitely in charge in a gentle way, to Ray's domain where he works as an advertising executive, to Aaron's things spread all over the house as well as in his fort in the backyard.”

Hancock's dilapidated trailer features a magnificent ocean view from atop a vacant, brush strewn bluff in the Deer Creek area of Malibu. At times a refuge from a public he doesn't like very much, Hancock's home sadly resembles a deserted wasteland from which he cannot easily escape. His "lawn” is strewn with heaps of drained bourbon bottles, empty Dinty Moore stew cans, and aluminum Jiffy Pop containers.

Art director Dawn Swiderski worked with Brandenburg to develop Hancock's home – two vintage Boles Aero Airstream trailers married together by a makeshift awning and the odds and ends Hancock finds that remind him of a richer past he cannot remember. A $5 bill portrait of Abraham Lincoln taped to his refrigerator, the pile of broken sunglasses he wears in homage to his musical hero Miles Davis, various animal tchotchkes he's drawn to collect all help define the character.

When Brandenburg finish

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