NBC announced its fall TV schedule and one show in particular that I have been tracking is called Chicago Fire http://www.nbc.com/chicago-fire/. Chicago Fire is being produced by legendary producer Dick Wolf http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0937725/of the Law and Order franchise.
I have meet Mr. Wolf on the lot a couple of times outside his offices and he was always kind and generous with his time. One of the lead Writers and Executive Producers on the show is a writer by the name of Derek Hass http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0351929/.
I have a passing acquaintance with Mr. Haas and we have emailed a few times about the show. Being a former career firefighter/paramedic and an author I am not above a shameless plug to try and somehow involve myself in the show. That’s just the truth and as I mentioned to Derek if he knows anything about firefighters he knows we aren’t known for our shyness.
So with great anticipation I have been waiting for clips of the show to become available following NBC’s upfronts this week. Upfronts is a term given to television networks announcements of their new schedules for the fall and spring line-ups. http://tvdonewright.com/2012/05/2012-nbc-upfronts-svu-moves-earlier-whitney-and-community-on-friday-nights-and-more/
Upfronts are a chance for advertisers to see new products (TV shows) and make decisions about what shows they want to buy advertising space on. It’s a big deal and a lot of money is at stake during the upfonts. So the networks want to put on a show and put their best foot forward in hopes of attracting advertising dollars.
NBC put up clips of Chicago Fire and I diligently viewed all of them. The first one I watched is called Fiery Tempers. http://www.nbc.com/chicago-fire/video/fiery-tempers/1401334
The second one is titled No Man Left Behind. http://www.nbc.com/chicago-fire/video/no-man-left-behind/1401381
Now I have worked in both industries, firefighting and show business so I watch these clips with a sense of understanding of how the entertainment industry has to treat the subject matter.
In Fiery Tempers we are greeted by a shirtless and unshaven firefighter Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) getting involved in a argument with another firefighter Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer).
Now I don’t remember a lot of guys shirtless and unshaven in the firehouses I worked in outside of the locker room and with this being a very short clip I have no idea of the context of what I was seeing. Maybe Kelley just got done with some really bad call and is caught at the moment of changing his shirt I don’t know.
In No Man Left Behind, another very short clip we see two firefighters trying to self rescue out of a fiery building. Once again I don’t have enough information to understand how these two got into their situation. What I do see though is two supposedly professional firefighter in a fire environment without the appropriate gear on.
Neither has on an SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus) and one guy doesn’t even have his hat on. Now I don’t know how they got in this situation or why they aren’t properly geared up. What I do know is this.
And I guarantee you this, there will be a lot of firefighters that will watch these clips or the first episode of the show and immediately call bull shit and they will be right. But what I hope is that firefighters will try to overlook this and understand why this sort of thing happens in film and TV.
A huge portion of the anticipated audience for Chicago fire is women that dig firefighters. They dig firefighter calendars; they dig everything about us and when they tune in to watch this show they are gonna want to see some skin and I’m sure Taylor Kinney worked his ass off to get in shape or maybe he’s just young and in shape I don’t know.
So try and understand that, besides if you are a single fireman this can only improve your chances in the dating world and maybe encourage you to hit the gym a little more yourself, after all he is an actor, you are a real firefighter.
Another thing about the business of entertainment is this. These actors are hired for their talents no doubt, but they are also hired for their looks and an SCBA face piece obscuring the view of those good looks defeats that purpose. Also see the full cast as there are some female actors on the show that are very easy on the eyes themselves. Monica Raymund plays Gabriela Dawson and Lauren German plays Leslie Shay to name a few.
I remember talking with Kurt Russell shortly after Back Draft came out. He still had fresh scars from burns he had received during the filming.
All he wanted to do was talk about firefighting and he told me the Chief of the Chicago FD had offered him a job if wanted to leave acting. He explained that one of the main tools in an actor’s tool kit was their face; it is how they show emotion and give non verbal clues to the audience. He didn’t admit he’s really good looking though.
So I would ask firefighters to give the show a chance before trashing these technical issues and understand that the very talented people making this show will treat us and ours fairly.
Come on I still run into people that want to talk about John Gage and Roy DeSoto from Emergency and that show was canceled 1977 two years before I became a firefighter.
I did ask Derek Haas if he gets shit from the Chicago firefighters for this stuff and he told me that they worked very hard to be 99% accurate on all the technical issues. We will see.