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The series has a place in my heart, too. I was the location casting director, the one who cast the extras and local talent - all of whom were wonderful to work with! On many mornings the extras had to be at the hotel, to load up on buses, at 4:30 am, and the ride out to the set could take as long as 1 1/2 hours each way. They were always on time, carrying their pillows to sleep on the bus, and would cheerfully, although a little sleepy, head off to wardrobe and make-up at 6:00 am - Troopers, all of them! I remember getting a call from the head of production at Fox, complementing us on the amazing extras! And how happy he was with their work on the series. There were 8 episodes shot but only a few aired. We were up against some pretty heavy competition on the other networks, and many of us felt that we could have survived if we are only airing on a different day.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This might be a bit of a biased review because my mom was an extra on this short lived series when it was filmed here in Tennessee. She was one of the Indian extras who had to carry baskets of rubber fish (yum!) and plastic berries in the background as the important characters talked about things related to the episode. I was able to be on the set (or rather off the set but near by)during a few episodes and it was always exciting for me, and the food was always good and there was a lot of it. One thing I can say is that Ji-Tu Cumbuka is indeed a big man, especially when you are about 10 years old and standing next to him. He was also very nice to me. Since this series happened so long ago memories are a bit fuzzy but there is one that happened that is worth mentioning. As Ji-Tu Cumbuka's "Hawk" was walking through the woods he encountered a small baby deer that he talked to for a minute before it got up and walked away. At least that was what the script said. What REALLY happened was this. The deer was attached to a leather thong by its back hoof because it was too frisky and was jumping around and was not being a good stunt deer and would not stay on it's mark. So, to rectify this situation (since time is money) the deer was given a sedative...which did the trick...a bit too well. When the scene was shot as written, the deer (now throughly relaxed) staggered off the scene instead of walking off in a more deer like fashion. So if you happen to see this episode, you will know the deer on screen is actually drugged and feeling no pain. Would like to have the few episodes that exist since it is part of my family's many adventures. We still hold our hand over our hearts when we see the Fox movie logo...even when others think we are a bit weird.
I was an extra in the 3rd episode, "The Salt Licks" the summer of 1977. It was filmed on the shores of Watts Bar lake in East Tennessee outside Knoxville. I played one of the settlers that was captured by the Indians while at the salt licks. Young Dan'l (Rick Moses) and Hawk (JiTu Kumbuka) rescued us. John Devlin played Skag in this episode. We became fast friends and he sort of took me under his wing for the episode making sure I was close to him so I would be in more shots. He was also good company during the long hours of production. What a great experience! Danny Zapien, who played the the medicine man, kept our spirits up between takes with funny stories and just cutting up, generally. Jerry Rushing from North Carolina played the blacksmith, Avery, and was also a lot of fun. Mannie Acosta in makeup woke us up at 5AM call by adding coffee to the Max Factor pancake makeup! I met Cal Bellini who I knew from his role in Little Big Man. Rudy ?? in special effects was good at explosions!! I have photos of most of the characters, director and such that I'd like to share, but can find no way to post them on IMDb. Any help out there?
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