Sitcom Stars West Seattle

There’s a lot of Seattle in TV. But there isn’t a lot of TV in Seattle. Frasier and Grey’s Anatomy are the standouts among dozens of shows that are set in Seattle, but not filmed in Seattle. The team behind a nascent television series The Divine Marigolds wants to change that—and they’ll have the chance after winning the National NexTV Audience Competition.

Set and shot in West Seattle, the dramedy features a large Irish-American family that traverses the troubles of modern life while frequenting real local businesses including the Celtic Swell, Husky Deli and Alki Bike and Board. The formula isn’t unique—it’s been a sitcom staple since All in the Family topped the Nielsens 40 years ago—but the local approach is different.

“We are trying to squash that Frasier effect, where it’s just a shot of the skyline and then the show is shot in a studio in Hollywood,” said producer Jeremiah Kaynor. “We wanted to show that Seattle has all the talent, the crew and the ability to compete with the big boys in New York and LA.”

The first step was shooting the pilot, a process that began two years ago, involved 52 cast and crew, and cost $20,000. The idea for the show was cooked up in a West Seattle kitchen by actors Lisa Coronado and Alder Sherwood.

“There are so many great, talented people in the acting community in Seattle,” says Coronado, who is now the show’s primary writer. “We wanted to create something that would put a lot of them to work. Then we thought, instead of doing a movie, let’s do a TV show, so we can get perpetual work.”

With the pilot in hand, the producers began to pitch, earning positive feedback but no deal. Then they entered the show into the NexTV competition and ended up winning the Viewer’s Choice award after garnering 1,200 votes. Now the pilot goes before a panel of industry types—including a producer of The Office, the creative director of funnyordie.com and a decorated Hollywood writer.

If everything goes as planned, the show will begin filming in West Seattle in January and be ready to air in fall 2012. It still has a long way to go, but Kaynor believes it will get there—and that when it does, it will bring jobs to West Seattle and create a few more landmarks for TV tourists.

“Look at what has happened in Forks with Twilight,” he said. “Or Roslyn. They shot Northern Exposure there 20 years ago and people still go to see the Brick.”

See more in Film
See more in the November 2011 issue   →