The Famous Jett Jackson
It’s the second season of The Famous Jett Jackson, episode five, day three, and there on set at a baseball diamond in Markham Ont. stands Eartha Kitt, clad in a yellow baseball uniform and poised like a ballerina.
Director David Warry-Smith (The Outer Limits) calls action and all of a sudden, Kitt, better known for her feline femininity, storms onto the diamond in a fit of rage and proceeds to scream and flail her arms at the ump (Bill Lake).
The original Cat Woman has been cast as a baseball coach.
‘We liked the fact that we were going against people’s image of Eartha, giving her a shoe-leather, toe-shined hardened edge,’ says Shawn Levy, executive producer of Disney Channel’s second run of Jett Jackson, which Alliance Atlantis is shooting in Toronto and distributing worldwide (with the exception of the u.s., where Disney distributes).
The second season’s 26 episodes, budgeted at $17 million, will continue to follow Jett (Lee Thompson Young) on his adventures as a 13-year-old television star trying to live a normal life, while his friends and fans expect him to live up to the image of Silverstone, the action hero he plays on television.
But while the first season’s 13 episodes were targeted at an eight- to 11-year-old audience, this season is geared to the eight-to-14 demographic.
‘We’re making it more stylized. There’s going to be more action, techno hip-hop tracks instead of a conventional score, more of a wry edge to the humor and a broader use of cgi effects,’ says Levy, who directed the show’s pilot and is now taking his first shot at producing.
On set, the mood is calm, almost surreal. ‘I don’t like to intellectualize about style, but I’m keeping fairly tight and warm,’ says Warry-Smith, adding, ‘There are a couple of magical moments.’ As Abertine (Kitt) coaches Jett’s baseball team out of its losing streak, the ghost of her late husband appears and disappears by her side. And in another sequence, a player imagines he is swinging at a bottle cap and all of a sudden the baseball morphs into a bottle cap in midair.
LunchBOX Productions is responsible for the special effects, which are generated in the Flame.
The total budget for online packaging is $75,000.
On the flip side, dop Yuri Yakubiw, who’s returned from the first season, looks forward to working with a lot more natural light this year.
Today, however, the lighting situation is a dop’s nightmare. ‘The light is shifting a lot from sun to cloud so it’s really tough to keep continuity. I have no choice but to go with my gut,’ he says as the sun disappears behind a dark gray cloud and the threat of rain continues to loom.
All the music is original, written for the show by Carlos Lopez. ‘It’s a two-tiered palette: techno for Silverstone and acoustic guitar with hip-hop percussion for Jett,’ says Levy, who points out the highly reflexive nature of the program – the show-within-the-show element.
Not only does Jett play a television character who will later write an episode of Silverstone on the show, Thompson Young, who plays Jett, will later write an episode of Jett Jackson.
‘The biggest challenge has been to make it a different show than last season. To give it more depth, more emotion, more comedy and a new language,’ says supervising producer Bruce Kalish, son of producer/writer Austin ‘Rocky’ Kalish (My Three Sons), who was hanging around on set for the day.
In addition to Warry-Smith, the roster of directors includes Larry McLean, Stacey Curtis, Patrick Williams, Peter Marshall and executive producer Shawn Levy, who will direct the Christmas special.
Britney Spears guest stars in the Halloween episode.
The seven-month production run will shoot through to Oct. 20 and the show is set to air on Disney in late August. Alliance Atlantis Releasing has presold the series in more than 50 countries, but has yet to find a Canadian broadcaster.
‘The reason we don’t have one yet is that we’re waiting to get episodes from the second season, because it’s just easier to do it with 35 than just 13,’ says producer Kevin May.
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