Miniseries will feature ‘castle’ in Lakewood

TV: ABC's 'Rose Red' joins list of productions shot in Northwest

Ernest A. Jasmin; The News Tribune

Mark Carliner knew Lakewood and Seattle were perfect for "Rose Red," the ABC miniseries that began production in August and will continue taping at Seattle's former Sand Point Naval Station through December.

Sure, the series' executive producer and his crew were tempted to head north of the border to Vancouver, B.C. - where deflated Canadian currency saves film and television crews millions of dollars - but Lakewood had something British Columbia did not: Thornewood Castle.

When taping a haunted house story like this one - which is based on a script by best-selling horror novelist Stephen King - the house is the main ingredient. Producers scoured all 50 states for an appropriate structure and Thornewood Castle was just too good to pass up, Carliner said. ABC spent $500,000 renovating the landmark and taped there in October.

The 28,000-square-foot castle - which has 28 bedrooms and 22 bathrooms - was built by Tacoma banker Chester Thorne in 1910. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and currently serves as a bed-and-breakfast.

"This is a story about a house that's been under construction for 40 years, and it's so big nobody knows how big it is," he said. "People get lost, and horrible things happen to people inside of it.

"(King) said to me he wanted to find a place that was user friendly; something that, when you look at it, it doesn't immediately say 'House on Haunted Hill.' ... We cast the house before we found the actors."

This isn't Thornewood's first dose of fame; it was also featured in the movie "Juliette - The Last Warning," which starred Lakewood-based actor Yaphet Kotto, and in the 1994 "Simon & Simon" reunion show "Precious Cargo."

Data collected by the Washington State Film Office, a state agency that promotes Washington as a desirable location to Hollywood film and television producers, indicates the Puget Sound region is in the midst of a serendipitous boom. Production units - including the crews for "Rose Red" and "The Fugitive," the Warner Bros. action series that will tape in King County through 2001 - have spent $70 million in Washington so far this fiscal year, up considerably from the $17,522,350 crews spent in 1999 while producing feature films, television shows, music videos and other projects.

"Rose Red" - which will air in six parts in early 2002 - also landed jobs, albeit temporary, for hundreds of Washingtonians. Film office director Suzy Kellett estimated that 2,500 to 3,000 state residents were hired in various capacities, ranging from crew members and extras to security guards and caterers.

"That's a lot of people getting work for a long period of time," Kellett said.

However, the dramatic shift in film and television activity does not constitute a trend, she cautioned. In a word, Washington was just lucky this year.

The makers of "Rose Red" and "The Fugitive" were tempted to head to British Columbia, where the Canadian dollar has hovered around 65 cents American in value for several months. Thornewood Castle was the deciding variable for "Rose Red," but the Warner Bros. decision for "Fugitive" was based on restrictions that prevented Canadian crews from traveling to various U.S. cities, Kellett said.

However, Carliner, who hadn't spent time in the Puget Sound region before investigating Thornewood, said he was impressed with Western Washington's potential for moviemaking. When producers like Carliner have good experiences here, it may serve to increase the buzz about the Puget Sound area in Hollywood.

"It's a feather in our cap, absolutely," Kellett said. "The (film) decision-making community is very small."

Crews from a handful of other movies and TV series have worked in Seattle and Tacoma since the late '90s. Among the notables are the 1999 feature film "10 Things I Hate About You," which was filmed at Stadium High School, and "Snow Falling on Cedars," which shot in Port Townsend and on Whidbey Island in 1998.

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Staff writer Ernest Jasmin covers pop culture. Reach him at 253-274-7389 or

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