Season 1 Production Notes
So Weird, Disney Channel’s new half-hour live-action drama, explores paranormal phenomena – ghosts, UFOs, ESP, you name it. Using actual reported phenomena as a launching point, the series follows the exploits of 14-year-old- Fiona “Fi” Phillips (Cara DeLizia), a computer-loving kid with an obsession for all things weird. She travels the country with her 15-year-old brother, Jack (Patrick Levis), and their rock star mom, Molly (Mackenzie Phillips). Also along for the trip are Fi and Jack’s friend, Clu Bell (Erik von Detten), whose dad, Ned (Dave “Squatch” Ward), is the roadie and whose mom, Irene (Belinda Metz), is the band’s stage manager. Henry Winkler, Tom Aslte, Michelle Davis, and Alec Griffith serve as executive producers. The series is produced by Larry Sugar.
The concept for So Weird came about when Henry Winkler worked with Michelle Davis and Alec Griffith on the 1991 documentary The UFO Report: Sightings (and subsequent series) for the Fox Television Network – which proved to be the highest rated Friday night show since Fox’s inception. Winkler mentioned to them his interest in developing a show for children centering around the paranormal.
Davis and Griffith liked the idea and it was shopped around for the next two years. It was eventually brought to Disney Channel, where the series found a home.
“The reason the show works,” states executive producer and show runner Jon Cooksey, “is that it’s humorous, it’s scary – though not enough to frighten children – and very eerie. I think it’s hard to put that together without short-changing any of the elements. We have a cast that can play things very real. When they’re funny, you laugh with them. When they’re scared, you are scared with them. Every episode has a payoff.”
Mackenzie Phillips returns to television as a series regular for the first time since starring in the popular CBS sitcom One Day at a Time in the mid-70s. Her role as teenager Julie Cooper lasted seven years. “You dream about getting a series again,” says Phillips. “Often you can find yourself in some place where you say. “This isn’t exactly what I thought it would be.” But on So Weird we have an incredible ensemble cast and great relationships.”
“I love these kids a lot,” continues Phillips. “We have a family here. I think that if we were shooting at home we wouldn’t have this much of a felling of family, because you would be getting those needs met at home. Here, we have each other.”
Phillips will also have the opportunity to utilize another of her talents on the show – singing. In her 20’s, Phillips spent three years touring the world with her father, John Phillips, when he re-created his legendary group The Mamas and the Papas.
Cara DeLizia was thrilled at the opportunity to star in the series. “Fi and I both march to the beat of our own drum,” says DeLizia, “which is on of the reasons I was really attracted to the role. We don’t really care if people turn us down. We do our own thing. If someone tells us “no”, then we think that’s okay because that’s only one person’s opinion.”
“We both do what we feel is right,” continues DeLizia. “Fi and I have a lot of similarities. We both love the computer, for instance. I take over my dad’s office whenever I can. Playing Fi isn’t a big stretch for me – except that in real life I don’t live on a bus,” she laughs.
When Patrick Levis arrived for his audition, he ready knew that Cara had gotten the part of Fi Phillips. “We were sitting there,” recalls Levis. “and my dad started talking to Cara’s mom and she mentioned that they were from Maryland. When we said we were also from Maryland, she asked us where exactly and we replied, “Silver Springs.” It was “so weird,” laughs Levis, “because it ended up that we lived about twenty minutes from each other.
Mrs. DeLizia even taught my younger brother in kindergarten. It’s a small world!”
“The character of Clu is totally different from all my other roles,” remarks Erik von Detten. “it was a challenge to define his character, but now that I’ve figured him out, he is a totally fun character to play.”
So Weird is shot entirely on location in Vancouver, British Columbia. The abundant variety of diverse locations makes Vancouver an ideal place to shoot the series. “We are trying to put across that we are in a different city each week,” explains Cooksey. “We can do 52 states in 52 episodes and Vancouver doubles for anywhere. That authenticity is so important to this show.”
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