Inside 'Fastlane's' Candy Store

Mon, Oct 28, 2002 01:35 PM PDT / by Heather Feher / Zap2it, TV News

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - Now that the pesky World Series is out of the way, FOX can get back to the business of premiering the rest of its fall shows and returning to its regularly scheduled programming. Among those returning, the freshman action series "Fastlane," starring Bill Bellamy and Peter Facinelli as Deaq and Van Ray — undercover cops assigned to take down the most high profile players in the Los Angeles crime world. Helping them infiltrate the criminal underworld is their tough-as-nails boss Billie (Tiffani Thiessen) and a dazzling warehouse of seized property called The Candy Store.

The real-life Candy Store is located on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California inside a massive soundstage. The set is built to duplicate the interior of the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles, the location used in the pilot episode. The huge elliptical space is trimmed with rich red curtains, carved wood and detailed panels of gold ornamentation.

Rising from the center of the floor is a futuristic office surrounded by walls of clear plastic. This command center is surrounded by mint condition cars, motorcycles, ATVs, snowboards and guns. A fully equipped gym sits opposite a lounge area furnished with ultramodern sofas and chairs. A basketball hoop partially blocks "the cage," an area filled with fake money, drugs and jewelry.

"It's one of the more grand, intricate sets that you'll see on television," says Mark Hutman, "Fastlane" production designer.

"That ultramodern slick look on top of the older ornate theater gives us an interesting layering that I think is analogous to what you see in Los Angeles," Hutman says of the contrasting elements. "It suits the show and suits the city which really is another character in the show. It takes place nowhere else but L.A."

Although it is supposed to be packed with confiscated equipment, the Candy Story surprisingly minimalist. Set Decorator Bob Kensinger reveals, "It is kind of a weird theme of our show that started in the Candy Store — 'less is more.' In TV they do mostly shoot tight shots, head shots," he explains. "When they do pull back, if there's too much to look at, you can't frame your eye, there's just too much to look at. So we try to keep it as clean as possible." As the show continues, the elements will be cycled in and out. "Episode to episode, if somebody gets busted in the show, we sometimes confiscate their artwork, or their cars, or their motorcycles and they'll show up in the Candy Store somewhere else in that episode," Kensinger says. "That was the whole idea — that everything has been confiscated from a criminal with good taste."

Beautiful furniture and artwork aside, most viewers are probably most impressed by the envy-inducing array of high end automobiles put at the detective disposal. Securing the vehicles is the domain of Jeff Couch, "Fastlane's" transportation coordinator. "We read the script, talk to the director, production designer and see what is in their mind what they want to see," he says. "We pretty much try to rent most things and the things we destroy, we normally buy."

Some viewers enjoy the show's spectacular car crashes less than others. "I'm already getting a little bit of hate mail on the website from car junkies," laughs Couch. "The Ford people have stepped up now that they saw the second episode when I wrecked the '67 Mustang. The first episode — the pilot, all the Chevrolet people chimed in because we dented up a beautiful '69 El Camino SS."

Whenever possible, Couch tries to find stand-ins for the cars being destroyed on the show. "Right now, I'm matching up a '78 Trans Am like the " Smokey and the Bandit"-type car," he says. "I have a pristine one that I can't damage, and I have to shoot up the windows and the T-tops and I can't do that to this guy's car. I have an older one that I'll paint, match the interior, the seats and on film it will look fantastic." He adds, "It's not that good of a car, so I can blow up the windows and I can blow up the T-tops and I can shoot holes in the side of it."

Damaging the cars is also a concern for star Peter Facinelli. "Sometimes they'll give me a stick shift and I'll think, 'Oh no, it's a $300,000 Ferrari and I hope I don't burn the clutch out of it,'" he laughs, adding, "Bill [Bellamy] is worse at it than me — He's dangerous with a clutch."

Fortunately, the two actors rarely compete for the same auto. "We always pick out the cars and say, 'this one is mine,'" Facinelli admits. "I always go for the old classics. Bill goes for the stylish new cars. He likes Maseratis, the Hummers and Bentleys, the SUVs with the spoiler kits and the rims. I like the old Mustang classic cars."

Bellamy truly does have expensive tastes. His favorite car on the show so far? "The Lamborghini Diablo," he says after a moment's thought. "We had that in here last week. I didn't get the chance to drive it because we were only using it for half a day. But it was funky — it had the gold wings that pop up." He actually moans out loud just thinking about it. "Oh, man."

"I think the Candy Store is a male fantasy," Bellamy says. "I think it represents everything that is innately male from the cars to the pool table to the motorcycles, snowmobiles, watercraft, guns ... . It's just an overload of toys."

As the lone female, Tiffani Thiessen agrees.

"It's kind of a really cool, huge place that we feel very comfortable in," she says. "I love that my office is right in the middle of everything and I can see whatever is going on around me."

The actress doesn't mind "Fastlane's" masculine leanings. "I am into cars," she says,adding, "My father is a huge car guy. This show has become his favorite show, and luckily I'm on it. He kills two birds with one stone by watching a show that he likes and watching his daughter."

That said, she has her own suggestions for a female version of The Candy Store. It would come equipped with "Gucci, Prada, Dolce Gabana, Versace — all the clothes you could imagine. We would have jewelry, shoes and really cute boys," she laughs.