Tenth season will be the final one for Vancouver-filmed young Superman story
BY MARKE ANDREWS, VANCOUVER SUN
MAY 30, 2010 9:00 PM
When cast and crew assemble this summer to shoot the 10th season of Smallville, they will do so with heavy hearts. The show, about the small-town Kansas life of Superman in his formative Clark Kent years, has been a fixture on The CW network (formerly The WB) for a decade. But that will all come to an end next spring, because the 10th season will be the show's swan song.
Viewers, including those who submit their comments to the website devotedtosmallville.com,will lose a friend. The 200 British Columbia cast and crew members who receive up to nine months employment each year on the series will lose more than that.
" Smallville will be remembered as one of the most successful series shot in B.C.," said Paul Klassen, business representative for the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 891, some of whose members have worked on the show since day one. "It is a fantastic production and a highlight of our industry, and has showcased what B.C. can deliver.
"Not a lot of series make 10 seasons," said Klassen. "It just doesn't happen that often in television."
Richard Lucas, president of Vancouver agency Lucas Talent, said the series epitomized the definition of a class act.
"They've offered opportunities to many, many Vancouverbased actors, and they've always paid them really respectfully, which many [productions] don't. They have been a very respected and respectful part of our industry for many years," said Lucas, whose talent roster includes 32 actors. "There are very few clients that I represent who have not been cast on the show."
One of those actors to benefit from the series' wide exposure is Vancouver actress Kristin Kreuk.
Kreuk was a teenager who had had roles in an ABC-TV movie and in the Canadian teen series Edgemont when she auditioned for the role of Lana Lang, girlfriend of a teenage Clark Kent. She starred on the show for its first seven years, appearing in five episodes during the eighth season.
" Smallville was the first thing I did that got recognition, and it did everything for my career," said Kreuk. "It had me working consistently for the beginning of my adult life.
" Smallville cast a lot of local actors, which was really great. It was a really nice environment to work in. The crew was incredible, and it was like a family. Unlike being in L.A., you're not on a lot. You're with each other, there's nobody else there, and you see each other more than you see anyone else in your life.
"The show was incredibly supportive of everybody there," said Kreuk, who now co-heads with two friends (including fellow Smallville actor Allison Mack) the production company Parvati Creative "We all really looked after each other and cared for each other, and it made for a wonderful environment to grow up in. I essentially grew up on that set."
Script supervisor Beth Mercer, who has worked on Smallville since the very first episode, said she watched many of the show's principal actors evolve on set.
"Kristin and Allison were 17, 18 when they started," said Mercer. "It's been wonderful watching them grow not only as actors, but as people."
Even though Mercer often puts in 14-hour work days, there are many times it doesn't seem like work.
"We spend a lot of our days laughing," said Mercer. "It's long hours, but when you're with a good group of people like that, it really helps."
Vancouver actor Camille Mitchell played Smallville sheriff Nancy Adams for five years until her character was killed, then returned for another season as a character in a parallel universe. She recalls that when her character was about to die, crew members kept checking on her mental and emotional state of mind.
"The director was so sweet. He kept saying, 'Are you all right?' " said Mitchell. "He was very concerned."
One memory stands out for Mitchell. On a break in shooting on a hot summer day at the Kent farm in Aldergrove, she looked over to see her 12-year-old son Charlie tossing a football with the lead actor who plays the young Superman, Tom Welling.
"It felt so Americana Smallville," said Mitchell.
Though a lot of people have lost a steady job, there's a good chance many will find employment on another series for The CW. The network has okayed a first season of Hellcats, the pilot for which, called a "presentation piece," was shot by many of the same crew who work on Smallville.