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On Location: 'Mobbed' scene plays out at a mall in Glendale

March 31, 2011 |  2:57 pm

It may look more like Bollywood than Hollywood: One thousand "flash mob" volunteers recruited via Craigslist and Twitter show up at a mall in Glendale, where they break out in a song-and-dance routine for the new Fox TV show "Mobbed."

The scene, among the more unusual film shoots in Los Angeles, filmed late last year at the Americana at Brand with 16 hidden camera crews. The pilot episode will play out Thursday on national TV as Fox premieres its latest reality show.

Hosted by Howie Mandel, "Mobbed" uses hidden cameras and thousands of unpaid volunteers recruited via social network sites who help special guests plan "extraordinary surprises" -- a marriage proposal or a husband learning that his wife is pregnant -- for friends, family members, loved ones and co-workers.

Thursday night's episode took one week of preparation but shot just one day at the Americana. Married choreographers Napoleon and Tabitha D'Umo of Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" worked with the hundreds of volunteers, who performed two songs, "Everlasting Love" and "Forever." The unwieldy size of the cast, however, meant that the entire sequence had to be captured in real time, with only one chance to get the shot right. 

"The whole event is a high-wire act,'' said Chris Cowan, executive producer of "Mobbed" and co-chief executive of Angel City Factory. "We're combining a hidden camera bit with over 1,000 choreographed amateur dancers performing two separate musical pieces. Either element is a risky investment for a network and putting them together is nuts, but it's a rush as producer to try and pull it off."

More rushes could be in store for Cowan. Similar mob scenes will play out across L.A. and other parts of the country if the show gets picked up by Fox.


'Mobbed' host Howie Mandel talks about his 'annoying' feud with Piers Morgan

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: Volunteers perform a dance routine at Americana at Brand in Glendale for the new Fox TV show "Mobbed." Credit: Eric Vlasik / Fox