WHITING — Fists jabbing and on the chase, stars of a new crime series took to Whiting's streets and alleyways to film action-packed scenes on the city's most iconic spots.
Whiting's famed 119th Street was the set of a foot chase between the leading female detective, a police officer and a fleeing suspect. In the heat of the pursuit, the detective rolled over the hood of a moving car and tackled the suspect in the street.
The show's co-creator, Jennifer "Goodman" Karum, who plays the star detective Katy Conrad, said she didn't want to give too many details — but the little town of Whiting certainly saw some action when they filmed June 9.
The show, aptly named “Conrad,” is based around Katy's search for the truth of what happened to her deceased father, who was also a Chicago detective.
“Her dad's death is ruled as a suicide, but she thinks otherwise,” Karum said. “From there, her search takes her on a dangerous path that reveals more about her family.”
The show is set in a suburb of Chicago, and Whiting made for a picturesque urban backdrop, said Ryan Atkins, the show's other co-creator.
Karum said they temporarily shut down 119th Street for the scene. Karum said while she performed some of her own stunts, Jenna Wood of Midwest Stunts also took on some of the action in the scene.
“Whiting was perfect for a city setting,” Karum said. “The mayor greeted us and everything.”
The crew enjoyed catering from local businesses, such as the Comfort Roast Coffee House and Cafe, and used Whiting City Hall as a spot for the cast to get set-ready with make-up.
Rich and Patti Banski, Comfort Roast Coffee House and Cafe owners, said the crew was fun to work with for the day.
"The cast and crew couldn't have been nicer," Rich Banski said. "I hope the series takes off and I hope they come back one day."
Mark Harbin, Whiting's director of special events, said Whiting has been the scene for other productions, such as 1993 sports movie "Rudy," 1981 film "Four Friends" and 1987 movie drama "Light of Day."
"Whiting has a small-town feel," Harbin said. "With our business district and the residential neighborhoods, it represents a lot of small towns across the nation."
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Samantha Merkle, who works as a locations manager and an art director for the show, is a Robertsdale resident who suggested downtown Whiting for the action scene.
"It was originally set for Chicago but we had trouble finding a location so I suggested downtown Whiting," said Merkle, who moved to Whiting from Chicago one year ago. "It was a great shoot."
Atkins said the show blossomed from a short, two-page script in which he cast Karum to play the role of a detective interrogating a male suspect. Karum loved the role, and together, she and Atkins worked on fleshing out a bigger story.
“I've always been a fan of TV shows like 'Homeland,' 'The Blacklist' and other crime shows,” Karum said. “I've always wanted to be a detective and try and be part of something different and new.”
Karum grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago and is a kindred spirit with the character she plays.
“I grew up in the autism spectrum, so perseverance is innate in my being,” Karum said. “I leverage that into what I want to do.”
The crew has filmed in a Chicago penthouse on Lake Shore Drive and is headed to New York City next to shoot a car explosion in a shipyard.
The production crew began filming a pilot episode in September 2016; that garnered interest from the likes of prominent film and TV actor Eric Roberts and Harry Lennix, who has had a variety of TV roles.
Karum said the creators decided to revamp the original pilot show by refilming with higher production quality. The group plans to pitch the show to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, NBC, HBO, Showtime and more. She also said the show will begin an online fundraiser to aid in the rest of the production.
Karum said she hopes to wrap up the first of the series' episodes by September. From featuring a strong female lead to grappling with issues like human trafficking and immigration, the starring actress said she wants this series to make a genuine impact.
“It's a real test of not giving up,” Karum said. “I hope it will inspire people.”