BEVERLY HILLS, CA--Did you know it is illegal to flag down a cab off the street in Beverly Hills? Me neither, but I finally got wise after waiting 20 minutes for a taxi in this sun-drenched marble canyon. Cab drivers can only turn their vehicles into hotels and pick up in driveways, etc. What the hell kind of backwater burb is this?
Even in Yellowknife you can hail a cab for crissakes.
Anyway, arrived in time at HBO West in Santa Monica to screen three episodes of the new big budget miniseries The Pacific. This 10-part WWII epic is a sequel of sorts to Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg's earlier Emmy-winning gem, Band of Brothers. Production began in Australia in 2007 and stretched throughout most of 2008, at a reported cost of US$150 million.
The Pacific will premiere in March on HBO and HBO Canada. About two dozen international journalists (mainly L.A.-based scribes for European print and electronic media) attended the projected Hi-def screenings in HBO's cozy little screening room.
The production depicts the heroic stand made by U.S. marines at Guadalcanal and other ferocious battles in the Solomon Islands in the Pacific theatre of WWII. As in Band of Brothers, the savage imagery of the war scenes puts you right in the middle of the battle. It is a nightmare world of continuous assault and unimaginable fury. I had to shut my eyes at one shocking bit of impromptu dentistry as a hardened marine decided to grab a little gold out of an enemy jaw.
Viewers get to spend a few minutes with some of the actual surviving marines at the beginning of each episode. That gives The Pacific a bit of a Ken Burns' documentary feel from The War, which is a good thing. The eye-witness commentary helps elevate The Pacific from just another war movie to a historical recreation of those terrible times.
James Badge Dale, Joe Mazzello and Jon Seda star in the miniseries, with Canadian-born producer Graham Yost and fellow Canuck Jeremy Podeswa among the directors. This afternoon, scribes are gathering to interview a few of the cast members. I'll be submitting a feature for Movie Entertainment magazine which will run closer to the air date for The Pacific.