The bucolic little village of Haven, Maine, in the TV version of The Tommyknockers isn’t anywhere near New England. Try New Zealand. The movie is set in the summer, but the airdate required filming to start last October, when leaves would be falling in Maine. So the producers traveled halfway around the world and constructed an idyllic down east summer retreat on New Zealand’s North Island.
Then it began to rain. And rain. ”It was crippling,” star Marg Helgenberger recalls. ”We shot 50 percent of this in a forest, and it would turn into a mudslide. They had to bring in all this dry dirt.”
Still, the production managed to survive. ”New Zealand is not exactly a filmmaking center,” executive producer Frank Konigsberg admits, but in terms of passing it off for Maine, he says, ”I think we got away with it.”
Tommyknockers may have traveled the farthest, but it’s far from the only recent TV movie to fake locations. Two of the three Long Island Lolita movies were shot in Canada, and Portland, Ore., stands in for Manhattan in NBC’s May 26 movie of the World Trade Center bombing. Another upcoming ABC Stephen King project, the eight-hour, $25 million mini- series The Stand, is subbing Salt Lake City for Boulder, Colo.
”It ultimately came down to a pretty even call between Utah and Colorado, and Colorado made me uncomfortable with their [antigay] Amendment 2,” says Stand executive producer Richard Rubinstein. Apparently, neither rain nor sleet nor right-wing politics can stop Stephen King.