Friday, January 09, 2009

Dispatch from press tour: Swayze checks into hospital, misses 'The Beast' session

Easily the most-anticipated session of the day -- if not the tour -- was for A&E's "The Beast," a new drama about a pair of undercover FBI agents, since one of those two agents is played by Patrick Swayze, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer only a few hours after the show was ordered to series. Though he had just discussed his condition with Barbara Walters, the room was packed with reporters eager to experience Swayze's candor in person.

Instead, A&E executives entered looking somber, and explained that Swayze wouldn't be in attendance because he had just checked himself into the hospital with pneumonia, leaving co-star Travis Fimmel and "The Beast" producers to talk on their star's behalf.

A&E president Bob DeBitetto said that the hospitalization was just a precaution, and that Swayze wanted it to be clear that "He plans to get back to promoting 'The Beast' as soon as he is back on his feet. He is unbelievably proud of the work that he and the entire 'Beast' team have done."

The session veered back and forth between logistical questions -- the first season wrapped filming in November, A&E and Sony had to make the show without traditional cast insurance -- and testimonials to Swayze's character and work ethic.

"It's been an absolute inspiration for me," said Fimmel, who plays Swayze's young protege. "He's an amazing guy. You can't help but respect him. I can't say enough good stuff about the guy. He makes the little things seem so not important."

"Although you forget sometimes that Patrick's going through treatment for cancer, it brings you closer together," said co-creator William Rotko. "For me personally, it would make you stop and think before you said you had a tummy ache in the morning."

Director Michael Dinner talked about Swayze's determination in the face of difficult weather conditions (the series was shot on location in Chicago, much of it during the extreme winter and summer) and Fimmel marveled that Swayze did most of his own stunts.

"You can hardly tell with the guy," he said. "He's such a man, you know."

Producer John Romano, a veteran of cop shows like "Hill Street Blues," said there's never been any thought about replacing Swayze, or of trying to continue the show without him.

"We've taken our cues from him, and he keeps saying, 'I'm showing up tomorrow.' You know what it's like to shoot an action show in seven days, and there's one day we didn't get, and that's in 12 episodes of television. We're tkaing our cues from his willingness to do the show, and it's inspiring."

My review of "The Beast," which debuts on Jan. 15, will be up on Tuesday morning.


Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

Oh boy, that's not good news. My very best wishes to Patrick Swayze.

Unknown said...

What Swayze is doing is amazing. Pancreatic cancer is a very aggressive cancer that is rarely spotted early and has a very high mortality rate. The fact that he is doing this is just unbelievable to me regardless of whether the show is any good. I hope he beats it.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone else kinda disgusted by the Swayze deathwatch. the guy's best work is behind him, most likely and I'm glad he can keep busy but you know that for YEARs, no journalists give a damn about this guy but now that he's gonna stop breathing soon, they all want a piece. Gotta say, it makes me admite Paul Newman all the more. the man did it all and he did it the classy way: privately!!!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Swayze's actually really good in "The Beast," maybe the best performance he's ever given. I have issues with the show as a whole, but he'd be relevant again even without the cancer.

Anonymous said...

Good to know, Alan.

Hey, have you heard anything about that Robin chick from HIMYM getting pregnant, how it will affect the show? are they doing press for that out there as well? Just curious since you got the hook up.

Eric said...

I hope we get to have many Patrick Swayze Christmases in the years to come.

Phil Freeman said...

>Swayze's actually really good in "The Beast," maybe the best performance he's ever given. I have issues with the show as a whole, but he'd be relevant again even without the cancer.

As someone who owns both Point Break and Road House on DVD, I want this show to be good, but can you reassure me that it's not just a lame Shield knockoff?

Heather K said...

Filmed on location in Chicago at my office. This summer, they made the entrance of my office look like the entrance to seedy strip club for an afternoon. Kind of awesome. Also kind of awkward to walk into.