Producers from the Fox television series ‘24’ visited two San Diego military installations July 1 to study the possibility of inserting a Navy theme into a future episode of their action-drama series.
The producers toured Assault Craft Unit 5 at Camp Pendleton to learn more about the Navy’s giant Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) assault hovercraft. They also came aboard two ships moored at San Diego Naval Base.
“I wanted to know what is available to be filmed on,” said producer Tim Iacofano. “If we’re going to be on the water, we should be on the water with the Navy.”
During his visit to San Diego, Iacofano went aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) and the guided-missile frigate USS Curts (FFG 38). He said he was impressed by everything he saw and excited about the possibility of working with the Navy in the future.
“With their helipads and everything, the ships looked really cool,” he said, offering similar praise for the LCAC’s he saw at Camp Pendleton.
Right now there are no specific plans to use a San Diego Navy asset in an episode of the program, but Iacofano said he wouldn’t hesitate to approach Navy officials about filming on a ship or LCAC if it would suit a script.
He said, “Now that we know what’s available, we can call the Navy and say ‘Here’s the scene. Here’s the script. Here’s what we want to do. Can you support us?’”
Last season the crew of ’24’ worked with a Marine F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet squadron from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to make an episode look realistic. The original script called for protagonist Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), an agent of a fictions FBI counter-terrorism unit, to shoot down a helicopter by firing rounds from a handgun into the helicopter’s engine.
“We all know that wasn’t likely to happen,” Iacofano said. “So, I asked ‘I wonder if we can get F-18’s?’”
Iacofano and his colleagues contacted the Navy Office of Information, West, in Los Angeles. After reviewing the script to make sure the plot was realistic and didn’t contradict Navy values, officials at the office agreed to help him.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Christy Hagen, a Hollywood liaison with the office of information, any movie or television producer can get help researching Navy or Marine Corps themes from the office. To use military assets in filming, though, their scripts must be authentic, feasible, and of an informational value. Scripts cannot depict messages that contradict Department of Defense policies.
“I always tell directors and producers we want to provide an authentic context in which they can tell their fictional story,” Hagen said.
She said the office frequently works with the CBS programs ‘JAG’ and ‘Navy NCIS,’ which film at Naval Base Ventura County several times a year. The office has also provided assistance for the NBC drama ‘The West Wing.’
“Our goal is to try to educate the creative leadership in Hollywood-producers, writers, directors-about the Navy mission,” she said. “Hopefully we can get an accurate portrayal of the Navy on the big screen and on your television set at home.”
Iacofano said he would be proud to demonstrate Navy values in ’24,’ and he’d be happy to work with Sailors to film a future episode of the series.
“Everybody is so skilled at what they do,” he said after visiting the two ships and assault craft unit. “It’s a pleasure to see how well everyone does their job.”
‘24’ producers plan to continue to research different ideas to make their program realistic and exciting. According to Iacofano, working with the Navy will likely be one of their first choices.