|Nearly 20 years later, another show has claimed most of Unique's inventory: Burn Notice, an irreverent spy thriller that's the first scripted series since Vice to film a second season in South Florida.|
''They're our bread and butter right now,'' said Rick Jones, who runs the company his father, J.B., started from a truck in 1975.
They bought their Opa-locka warehouse in 1986 on the heels of the Miami Vice windfall and now are investing heavily in new equipment with Burn Notice income.
The show rents three industrial generators, 250 lights and 25,000 feet of cable -- enough gear to account for about half of Unique's revenue for 2008. The company has ''confidence that it will continue to do well -- that we can grow behind it,'' Jones said.
His comments reflect the extra suspense for some South Florida companies as the spy thriller launches its second season 10 p.m. Thursday on the USA cable network.
Should the show -- last year's top new cable series -- do well enough to secure a third season from USA and decide to remain in Miami, Burn Notice will be on its way to matching Miami Vice's five-season run in South Florida between 1984 and 1989.
By spending $25 million over two seasons, Burn Notice has already brought South Florida its biggest television budget since Vice.
And like Vice, the story about a droll, unemployed spy rebuilding his life in Miami has brought a rare stretch of steady employment to dozens of casting agents, grips, make-up artists, film technicians and other local crew members used to the feast-and-famine cycle of South Florida's production industry.
''Sometimes I don't work for a month,'' said camera operator Al ''Tico'' Pavoni, during a break filming a Burn Notice scene in Hollywood three weeks ago. The Miami Beach resident said he worked a total of 12 days after Burn Notice's first season wrapped last August, ending five months of steady filming.
''Looking forward to a paycheck each week is wonderful,'' he said.
|That's the question hanging over South Florida's production industry on the heels of a plan to demolish a vacant expo center that the hit cable series uses as a studio.|
Film officials said that while they knew that Miami wanted to create a park where the Coconut Grove Convention Center now stands, they were stunned to learn that the demolition could happen early next year.
''I think it's really going to hurt the prospects for Burn Notice to stay here,'' said Jeff Peel, Miami-Dade County's film coordinator.
Civic activists, business leaders and others want the hulking convention center razed as quickly as possible to open up views of Coconut Grove's waterfront.
A draft plan for the Grove's waterfront hinges on the expo center's demise, and city commissioners are scheduled to consider the plan July 24. The city estimates that demolishing the center would cost about $1.2 million.
A senior aide to Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, a leading advocate of the plan, noted that drafts going back to the summer of 2006 show a waterfront without the expo center. The aide, Chief of Staff Ron Nelson, questioned whether the fate of the hit cable series really depends on a convention center described as leaking and in disrepair.
''I don't think they're going to abandon the city and the Grove because they're not filming in that location anymore,'' he said.
"....Local grip houses, camera operators and others hope not. The $25 million that the show has spent during the last two years accounts for about 25 percent of all South Florida productions' output, according to state figures. And as the first series since Miami Vice to return to South Florida for a second season, Burn Notice has provided a rare stretch of full-time work for more than 100 crew members."
Yes they would since they could pull a CSI: Miami and film elsewhere if they don't have the space and can't afford the cost. I am all for expanding the tourist capabilities of South Florida, but you have to understand these people could screw up boiling water. It would be better in the long run to be friendly to the entertainment industry rather than run everyone out of town.