An eerie chill in the air and the sound of echoing footsteps along an old wooden bridge are not just playful pranks or harbingers of Halloween in Wilmington. Having previously functioned as Capeside for “Dawson’s Creek” and the famed One Tree Hill High, the Port City now steps into a creepier role serving as Sleepy Hollow for FOX’s modernized take on Washington Irving’s classic tale.
According to executive producer Heather Kadin, “The original tale of Sleepy Hollow was a jumping-off point for us, but we have truly made this FOX version of our own. We like to say we put a ‘modern-day twist’ on the story.”
“Sleepy Hollow,” which premieres Monday, September 16th at 9 p.m. EST on FOX, begins with Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”) awakening in 2014. “Our Ichabod Crane is nothing like the Ichabod from the classic story,” Kadin asserts. The awkward and often-bumbling school teacher transforms into one of General George Washington’s lead soldiers in its retelling. Upon awakening, Crane quickly learns he is not the only blast from the past emerging in Sleepy Hollow: The Headless Horseman, who as it turns out is one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, once again plagues the fictional town. Crane must team up with present-day Sherriff Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie, “Shame,” “42”), to defeat the village’s legendary menace.
“What is interesting about Crane is that, even though he is the one out of place in our story, he is also the one who holds the key to solving these mysteries,” Kadin says.
“Sleepy Hollow” will focus on our country’s hidden history. Weaving between past and present, Crane’s link to a secretive Freemasons society and his wife Kartina’s (Katia Winter, “Dexter”) entrapment in a netherworld and possible occult affiliations, will prove vital to the show’s mystery. Sheriff Mills’ childhood visions include her in the supernatural world featured in the show. Together they will have to fight to save not only Sleepy Hollow but the world as well. The heroic duo will strive to work together using Abbie’s ability to navigate through modern society and Crane’s historical knowledge, in order to defeat the evil-at-large. Orlando Jones (“The Chicago 8” and “Drumline”) stars as the skeptical head of Abbie’s precinct. Despite the weighty subject matter, Kadin assures viewers that heads will roll from laughter as well.
“We believe viewers will find his adjustment to present day very entertaining as he discovers modern-day marvels—like television, running water, energy drinks, cars, etc,” she reveals.
The time-weaving, mystery-filled, and action-drenched premise described by the FOX representative comes as no surprise given the show’s creators, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. They are the same minds that cooked up FOX’s hit show “Fringe” and the recent “Star Trek” film reboot. Len Wiseman, known for his directorial work on “Underworld” and “Underworld: Evolution,” directed the show’s pilot.
Wilmington’s own Regal Mayfaire Cinema previewed a free screening of the show’s pilot to a lucky audience on August 27th. “We had a terrific, positive viewer response to our screening in Wilmington,” Kadin divulges. “Orlando Jones and Katia Winter surprised the audience and were blown away by the support and energy from the people of Wilmington. They have really welcomed us all with open arms. We couldn’t be happier to be here.”
The production shot its pilot episode in Salisbury, NC, before relocating to the Port City. The conveniently located EUE Screen Gems Studio helped secure Wilmington as a home for “Sleepy Hollow.” While most of their work occurs onstage in the studio located off North 23rd Street, the production can also be seen shooting around Wilmington’s downtown area. New Bern, another coastal NC city 90 miles north, functions as an additional setting for the show.
“Our series features a lot of flashbacks to the 1700s, so we needed areas to film that have woods and aren’t developed,” Kadin illuminates of locations. “North Carolina provides this for us—we have access to the water, the wilderness, and a top-notch studio, all within miles of each other. It’s very conducive for our needs.”
“Sleepy Hollow” employs around 150 full-time Wilmington locals. “We have loved working with the people of Wilmington; it’s been a terrific experience,” Kadin urges.
Port City residents should be sure to tune in for the white-knuckle thrill ride “Sleepy Hollow,” which gallops into prime time Monday, September 16th.
Monday, Sept. 16th
9 p.m. EST, FOX