from Sept 2005
Capitol stars in reality show
BY PAUL HAMMEL
LINCOLN - The State Capitol may soon be a television star.
A cameraman films participants in a reality series Tuesday night as they get out of cars at the Nebraska Capitol in Lincoln.
And no, it won't be as a backdrop for "Tommy Lee Goes to the Legislature."
Film crews shot outside the Capitol Tuesday night for a vaguely described reality show that will feature historic sites around the country.
Crews began assembling large lighting screens after 5 p.m. to avoid attention. By about 10:30 p.m., the bright spotlights, some mounted on boom trucks, illuminated the north entrance of the Capitol. Over and over, six camera operators filmed a group of about 20 contestants as they ran along the third-story terrace that rings the building. They appeared to be carrying some kind of papers or instructions.
The Nebraska Capitol building is apparently the first site for filming of the show, which will appear on NBC, said Bob Ripley, administrator of the State Capitol.
Ripley said producers of the show were "deliberately vague" about the specifics of the new program or why they selected Nebraska.
"We're standing back and wondering what's going to come out of this," he said. "It should be a good thing . . . but it's pretty hard to predict."
One rumor was that the filming was for an episode of the "Amazing Race," but that program is on CBS, not NBC.
The latter network has been advertising for contestants for a new global reality show called "Treasure Hunters," but officials declined to comment on any connection between the Capitol and that program.
"For this kind of show, confidentiality is paramount," said Fred Pichel, a producer who is working with the project. He referred questions to an NBC spokeswoman, who also declined comment.
Pichel, whose credits include a documentary on crab fishermen called "America's Deadliest Season" and an FX Networks reality show called "30 Days With Morgan Spurlock," said filming at the Capitol should conclude today.
He said that no movie stars will be coming to Lincoln and that about 100 people would be involved in the shoot.
When asked why the State Capitol was chosen, Pichel responded, "It's an icon. That's why we're here."
The state's part-time film officer also was mum on the project, saying she was asked to not reveal details.
"No, it's not 'Tommy Lee Goes to the Legislature,'" said film officer Laurie Richards, referring to the reality show shot at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that depicts rock drummer Tommy Lee.
Richards said, however, that film crews had a positive experience shooting the UNL reality series, which concluded Tuesday night - and that may have helped lead to more filming in Nebraska.