On the set of Hercules in New Zealand June 1999
We touched down on June 22nd with Singapore Airline in Auckland.
We: that is Sabine, Susi ( German president of ” A World Fit For Kids”), Jens ( winner of the RTL Hercules look-a-like contest ), Karl ( my genie, responsible for the layout of our newsletter) and I-Hannelore- ( clubmanagement-editor-dear Abby, whatever you like )
Finally on Friday June 25th we catch up with Danielle White, Kevin ‘s personal assistent, in the lobby of Pacific Renaissance Pictures. Karen, who is responsable for answering the phone that day, notices Jens and says out loud:” Oh, he looks like Kevin Sorbo!”
Meanwhile danielle arrived and she takes Sabine and me with her in her car. The others follow in their own cars. During the trip to the studios I find out that I am inside Kevin’s car, a blue Ford Explorer (Jeep). We have arrived, a layman never would have guessed this driveway leads to the studios; on th gate there is a small sign saying”Renaissance”. We pass several barns (studios?)and get to the square. Props laying around like logs, rocks, etc.tend to give the visitor the notion that these are the studios. We get out of the car and are told to be quiet: there is a shoot going on. A little later Kevin comes out of the studio and bids us a warm welcome. Whoever untill now suspected it can rest assured:
Kevin really has those sparkling blue eyes! He is incredibly charismatic, is very charming and during our conversation we find out he has a healthy sense of humor!! Because we didn’t get the time to introduce ourselves properly, he looks somewhat irritated up and down at Jens while passing him, but doesn’t say anything.... a little later he finds out who Jens is. While he is in make-up, preparing for a new shoot, we can visit the studio he was in just before: we see the dark set-up of a jail. So: Hercules in jail again??????
We meet again in the makeup trailer, where Anne is preparing him for the next scene; taces of blood on his head, on his arms, hands and on his chest...... At this time I present Kevin with the fanmail and some presents. He likes it and needs lesser time to unwrap than I needed to wrap. He has a special interest in the newsletter. The fotostory ( shampoo commercial ) amuses Kevin and he says: ”My God, that is already fourteen years ago..... He wonders about some of the pictures I used of him, that he cannot remember.... in a critical way he checks out the epiguide and states very clearly what episodes were great, weak, funny or inpossible. Kevin absolutely wants to know what Gizmoe and the Satyr are saying in the balloons.... In between Kevin tells us that he will be the new captain Kirk in a new Roddenberry project, but that his character will be more like Han Solo! He would choose Andromeda for a series. Kevin’s future plans sound very exciting, like the plan to maybe work with KevinCostner, with whom he had a meeting four weeks ago discussing a possible joint film project! However, it will take two month’s for Kevin to know if it will take place....? To make things even more exciting, Michael Hurst appears, he greets us very friendly and takes the time to study the newsletter we brought along forr him; Nadine had written an article about two films starring Michael Hurst, he was very interested to read about ( Michael reads and understands German ), of course Michael received greetings and stuff from the Waterkant as well.We exit the makeup trailer and meet Sam Sorbo, who came with Gizmoe ( she just fits in the palm of Kevin’s hand ) to the set to. Because Sam speaks Swedish, French and German too, besides English, we talk in German. Of course we didn’t forget about Ssam and Gizmoe , a Bruxells Griffon ( our clubmascot ) and so little presents are exchanged. Gizmoe gets to wear her new bandana, she felt great the whole time, after all she was in the center of the attention!!? Sam is very outspoken and interested, we talk about her modelling days, about the movies she already did. When I ask her if she would do a film with Kevin, we find out that she’d love to do a romantic film with him, but they haven’t had offers as of yet..... She tells us a little anecdote,about when she had to yell:’Stop, or I’ll shoot”, but she didn’t know if she should say shoot or shit...she was very embarrassed.....While talking, we arrive at a very special studio, where the blue screen shots are done. In the rectangular studio, the longer side is blue and the shorter side is green. There are no sets or decorations, only the background is used in the shots.
Here we learn about the episode that is being shot right now. The story is taking place in Egypt during the reign of Ramses, the title of this episode:” the city of the dead ( or of death...... Kevin thinks it’s very well possible that the title will change once agaiin...)
Kevin prepares for the next scene: he stands before the green background, on the floor in ffront of him are markings indicating which way he has got to move once the camera’s are rolling, the lighting and the distancee are measured and then it is:”Action!”
Hercules tumbles slightly hurt and out of breath in the space.What we cannot see right now, but what the viewers will see happening is, that behind Hercules pyramides are collapsing due to an explosion, and he is able to get out of the inferno at the last second. The pyramides will be added later into the background by the special effects team. Kevin rehearses the scene twice, by the third clapp the scene is done! During the shoot Kevin is very concentrated and very punctual! The armwound is being photographed with a Polaroid camera, the picture pasted in, because Kevin’s bodydouble will have the same injury when he takes Kevin’s place during a scene where only the arm is seen. In another studio we see a staircase leading up to a room that looks like a temple, on the right side there is a heavy gateway through which both, Hercules and Iolaus, walk along the corridor.
coordinator ”Peter Bell” walks on the set and starts preparing a fight scene between the Tempel guard and Hercules in which Kevin Sorbo won’t be needed until the afternoon. During the preparartions of the scenes, Kevin uses the short breaks to have conversations or to make telephone calls, while Michael is constantly moving and Starts singing loudly every once in a while ( he has a great voice!) Another guest has arrived on the set: Normandie Nigh, who coordinates Kevin’s project ”A World Fit For Kids” in the States, finally we can meet and appreciate each other At last Kevin has some more time to answer our questions. He sits down on a socle and faces the questions being thrown at him, he makes a joke saying: I know what comes next: What is my favourite colour: Blue!” But the questions are about the future of the clubs, our cooperation and the project A World Fit For Kids;
I had a short written interview with Kevin later! The result of my questions: We will name ourselves
”European Hercules and Kevin Sorbo Fan Club”
in the future, because there will be numerous new projects starring Kevin beisdes Hercules. Because the fans and the readers and the viewers link Kevin Sorbo to Hercules, the name Hercules should be kept in the clubname too I can pass on the photo’s, taken on the set, to fanclubmembers and magazin.taken on the set, to fanclubmembers and magazines. For auctions, to be held shortly, to benefit A World Fit For Kids, Kevin gave me his signed Hercules shirt (Kevin Smith signed it too), a spear signed by both Kevins and a script (from the episode:” Monsterbaby in a Promised Land”, with Kevin’s signature). Kevin would like to see a good cooperation between him and our club, and he would appreciate a good cooperation with his club in the States (we are very interested in that, from where we stand!) Kevin and Sam would love to write us short articles or letters, to be published in our future newletters, in which they will answer our questions. In case any of you were worried if the fanmail will be forwarded to Kevin, I can ease your mind: YES, of course! In the mean time Kevin hears about the Kevin Smith Fan Club, can take a look in his newsletter aaaand would like to be able to keep it and he says while laughing: Oh yes, there are many Kevins: Kevin Sorbo, Kevin Smith, Kevin Costner, Kevin Kline, etc......!” In the mean time Michael hurst has joined us again, holding a cup of coffee, he tell us glowing with exitement, that Jennifer, his wife, and he are expecting their second baby, it is due in November.....we are among the first people to whom Michael tells the happy news, because
he had kept it secret till now, but he decided that now was the time to let everybody know! Since we plan to have a con in the autumn, we ask Kevin, Sam and Michael if they would like to say some words to their German fans: No problem. Action the videocamera is running and we are listening intensely. To conclude our visit to the set we are invited to lunch by Kevin, after that we have to say goodbye.
But before we say goodbye, Kevin asks Danielle to by all means show us the outdoors set, he recommends us to visit Bethells Beach where the outdoor shooting of episodes like ”the Apple” or ”Warbride” took place and so next thing we know, we are driving to a very fantastic setup of a village situated in a woody environment. We see Ares’ tempel and many interesting structures, also the ship in which Hercules sails from Greece to Ireland in the beginning of the 5th season. Nearby in a small wood, a shoot is taking place involving Iolaus’ double, did you guess ti already? Of course it’s a fightscene with two men. All three of them are hanging by nearly invisible threads and they are flipping over
eachother, but ”Iolaus” doen’t unhook at the right time, so he is still hanging in the air while his ennemies have already fallen down. This scene had to be rehearsed more than three times. Now we finally return to Renaissance, say goodbye to Danielle, who has answered many questions with patience and who has been a nice and sweet companion during this day. Before we get into our car, Danielle points out the way on the map to Bethells Beach, which we will visit next: a dreamlike beach in a gorgeous bay, surronded by rocks and a tropical forest. I think we’ll all remember this day for a long time. Kevin and Sam, as well as Michael Hurst are very charming, friendly, sensitive and outgoing people. Although these are the last four weeks of shooting, everything on the set went smoothly, no hectic, a friendly get together, remarkable considering that a day on the set begins at 7.00 am and ends at 7.00 pm. By now Kevin and Sam are back in Las Vegas in the States,however they will move again, because the new series will be shot in Canada, the question remains whether it will be Toronto, Vancouver or maybe still L.A. or San Diego But wherever they go Gizmoe will be sure to follow them anywhere!!! We still had a special treat coming involving Michael Hurst:: Cindy Mc Bain, editor in England for Hurst News had tickets for us to a celebrity debate. Theme: it’s better to be married than to burn, Michael belonged to the team in favour of marriage. Guests taking part in the debate were from media and the entertainmentindustry of New Zealand. Because of the fact that Cindy was known there and people knew there would be fans from the States, Germany, England and New Zealand present, we , the fans, were included in the debate regularly. Both groups presented their point of view on the theme and especially Michael was ”tackled” time and time again, although he was not shy in retaliating! After the debate we were lucky enough to meet Michael.
This debate was our special finale before we flew back to Germany
An interview on the set with Kevin:
While I’m on the set Kevin asks me, obviously shocked and bewildered: ” Do you understand why the cancelled Hercules? Hercules is doing so well in the Sates right now?” Kevin said that he couldn’t understand it; that gave me an opportunity to ask Kevin some questions:
H: At first RTL told us that after the eight episodes of the sixth season there will be more episodes sshot, will there be a new Hercules after you?
K: There will be no more episodes, Hercules is definitely done!
H: You can probably imagine the fans in Germany beeing outside themselves about the coming end of Hercules. What are the real reasons that led to this decision? Was it the salaries? We heard that the actors were asked to take a 1/3rdpaycut!
K: There is no real reason for cancelling the Hercules series, but it was definitely not about a paycut!
H: Who was the composer of the music for the fifth season? The episodes, taking place in Ireland, are accompanied by beautiful Irish sounding melodies! Are these to be found on the third Hercules music C.D. as well?
K: Joe Lo Duca is the composer and yes, this music is on the C.D. too!
H: Time and time again we heard rumours about you and Micheal Hurst planning to do something together! Do you have any plans in store ( maybe something in the theatre )?
K: Michael and I have no plans at this time, but we loved working together!
I asked Kevin some questions about the whole season, because after the Dahak episode and the Nordland - Saga, the writer returned to the usual ”episodes”: a second version of ”....And Fancy Free” ,that Kevin himself didn’t like ,by the way, and so on, since the exciting season opening, some of the following episodes float by, so to speak and one cannot help but think, why the exciting start? Of course a few of the episodes are very good, or funny! Kevin has let me know that he transferred this question to the script writers, we are curious to know if there will be an answer from them! We didn’t mention questions about Kevin plans for the future, because we handled
them all in the report about the visit to the set.