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L.A. to host Ray Romano's new TV series

September 1, 2009 |  9:00 am
48985818 Everybody loves Raymond, especially when he shoots in Los Angeles.

Ray Romano, star of that long-running CBS comedy, is returning to TV in a new TNT drama, "Men of a Certain Age," which will be filming in Granada Hills in the San Fernando Valley this week, according to the film-permitting group FilmL.A. Inc.

The series, which debuts in December and has a 10-episode order, is a drama about the friendship of three men approaching midlife, played by Romano, Scott Bakula ("Star Trek: Enterprise") and Andre Braugher ("Homicide: Life on the Street"). Romano created the series with his writing partner, Mike Royce.

The series, which began filming last month, features a number of less glamorous locations across Southern California -- a party shop in Downey, a Chevrolet dealership in Northridge and a house in Granada Hills that serves as the home of an out-of-work actor played by Bakula, who works part time at an accounting firm.

"We wanted to show Los Angeles as people live in it, and not the Hollywood of it all,'' said Royce, an executive producer.

"Men of a Certain Age" is among at least 25 projects that have qualified to receive the state's new film tax credit, which was passed earlier this year in effort to curb the outflow of shows to cheaper locales. Among other things, the program gives producers of new TV series distributed on basic cable a 20% tax credit.

Although producers considered shooting in New York City, the California state tax credit "definitely eliminated any notion that we would shoot anywhere else," Royce said.

"It's a great thing to have a TV series locate here because they produce multiple episodes over a period of time, so the economic benefit is sustained," said Philip Sokoloski, a spokesman for FilmL.A. The series has crew of about 150, including extras, and a budget of $2 million per episode.

Notwithstanding shoots for "Men of a Certain Age," on-location TV production continues to slide compared with a year ago as the summer hiatus ends and crews return to work. Activity for on-location television filming fell 18% last week compared with the same time a year ago, according to FilmL.A. Industry officials blame the falloff partly on the fact that TV studios are shooting more on soundstages to cut costs.

-- Richard Verrier