Lights, Camera, Action and The Unit

Mar 24, 2009 by Lisa Newton

Sometimes in Los Angeles, we get to literally be “part of the action” and have a backstage pass for being at the right place at the right time, for just being there. Welcome to Travelin’ Local’s backstage shoot of “The Unit.”

Such was the case during my recent foray during my afternoon visit to Macarthur Park. When I was there, a CBS production crew was filming an episode of “The Unit.” It was quite an event as the scene being filmed was with their main star, Dennis Haysbert, who plays the character Jonas Blane.

To those unfamiliar with this television series—which I was a previous member of—it is a hit television show now in its fourth season and going strong.

The Unit’s Plot and Summary

From Executive Producers David Mamet and Shawn Ryan, The Unit is an action drama that follows a covert team of Special Forces operatives as they risk their lives on undercover missions around the globe, while their families maintain the home front, protecting their husbands’ secrets. Jonas Blane (Dennis Haysbert) leads the Unit on missions out in the field and is responsible for taking new recruit Bob Brown (Scott Foley) under his wing. The Unit includes Jonas, Colonel Tom Ryan (Robert Patrick), Mack Gerhardt (Max Martini), Charles Grey (Michael Irby), Hector Williams (Demore Barnes) and Bob Brown, all highly skilled, trustworthy, brave and dependable soldiers whose ability to rely on each other is what creates their brotherhood. Jonas’ wife, Molly (Regina Taylor), is the base matriarch who comforts and counsels the other wives as they cope with the fear and uncertainty they experience when their husbands leave home. Molly and Tiffy Gerhardt (Abby Brammell), a wife hiding her own dark secrets, help Bob’s pregnant wife, Kim (Audrey Marie Anderson), acclimate to the stress of her new secret life. Source: CBS

Allstate Insurance Company Connection

Many of you will already be familiar with actor Dennis Haysbert, because of his deep baritone voice and statuesque frame, as he’s frequently seen in Allstate’s nationwide commercials. Haysbert is the official spokesman for the Allstate Insurance Company.

24 Connection

Surprisingly enough, I became interested in Barack Obama’s persona, based on a character that Haysbert played—President David Palmer in the 24 on Fox.

And he agrees! It’s an eerie occurrence of Life imitating Art.

In 2001, Haysbert became better known when he was cast in 24 playing U.S. Senator David Palmer, who served as America’s first Black President (in the context of the show) during the second and third seasons. He also returned as a guest star in the last six episodes of season 4 and the first episode of season 5. He stated in an interview for the show that the three men he admires most — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Colin Powell — collectively embody his idea of what a President should be. Haysbert believes that his playing of David Palmer on 24 helped Barack Obama — whom Haysbert supports — to win the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Source: Wikipedia

Since a picture tells a thousand words, I’ll let them do the talking. Without further adieu, welcome to The Unit, up-close and personal. Lights, camera, action:

Haysbert, crouched and shooting live. Although it’s only a television show—the gun is real, and it sounded real, although of course, blanks were used.

Cast and crew, plus lots of equipment “backstage.” It takes a lot of people to run the set.

That camera looks and must be heavy.

Haysbert, with his co-star, Regina Taylor, make their get-away after the shootout.

Living in Los Angeles frequently means that when we’re Travelin Local, we create our own “get-a-ways.”

Since Hollywood is the Entertainment Capital of the World, its sets are frequently built to represent other cities, or places, around the world.

But Entertainment is no joke—it’s big business here

With only 3 major big-budget productions due to be filmed in Los Angeles, city officials are considering hiring a "film czar" to promote their interests with the multibillion-dollar entertainment industry. By contrast, more than 100 major films were shot in LA in 2007 and 22 in 2008.

The loss of entertainment revenue and jobs is a critical issue in Los Angeles, especially given the current economic climate. The Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. estimates that more than 117,000 jobs are connected to the industry, which generates $38 billion annually for the region. Source: Contra Costa Times

Have you ever encountered a film shoot in your city? It’s becoming more and more common as the costs of filmmaking have dramatically decreased because of the move to digital moviemaking and associated content.

As well, many other states and countries are aggressively offering film and music production companies large subsidies and lucrative contracts.

How about you? Are you Travelin’ Local to your movie theatre today?

Next time you do, keep in mind that your favorite star or show, can be part of your neighborhood too…………………:)

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7 Responses to “Lights, Camera, Action and The Unit”

  1. Diane C. says:

    How fascinating to be at Macarthur Park when The Unit was being filmed. You sure were at the right place at the right time! Interesting to see all people and equipment behind the scenes too.

    My city has Old Tucson Studios where many westerns were shot. And Revenge of the Nerds was filmed at the University of Arizona campus and many students were used as extras.

    Diane C.’s last blog post..Birds at Tohono Chul


  2. Tess The Bold Life says:

    You were a previous memeber of the television series? Did I get that right?!?

    How exciting to be there or did you have a heads up they were coming? What a cool place to live.

    Tess The Bold Life’s last blog post..Magic Monday: Jonathan Mead, Reclaim Your Dreams


  3. Mark Salinas says:

    Very cool! I enjoyed this very much! Thank you! ;)


  4. David says:

    Lisa, great combination of place, time, feel, sense, sensibility, and intensity of what makes the “film world go round.”

    I, too, recall Dennis Haysbert, as President David Palmer on 24, and he’s a great stage actor and presence. Hat’s off to the entire “Unit” crew also.


  5. LisaNewton says:

    @ Diane C. It’s interesting how so many places are used in films or the movies. The world is getting smaller……………:)

    @ Tess The Bold Life No, I wasn’t a member of The Unit. I meant that I wasn’t a view of the program, but I am now. I’m sorry for the misunderstanding.

    @ Mark I’m happy you enjoyed the post………………:)

    @ David I’ve never watched 24, but the plot sounds great, and thank you……….:)


  6. Henie says:


    How cool for you! When we don’t expect the unexpected it certainly becomes a big bonus! I am so glad you experienced this!

    I go for a run everyday at lunch and I often run into film shoots around my work area…even being in the entertainment industry it is still always exciting to “bump” into one!:~)

    Henie’s last blog post..What’s To Expect?


  7. LisaNewton says:

    @ Henie Yes, it was cool. I hope to find the unexpected each time I go out for a photo shoot.


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