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HomeAwardsEmmy Contender-Tom Walsh-Prod Design-Housewives-ABC

Emmy Contender-Tom Walsh-Prod Design-Housewives-ABC

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As a mirror of the complexity that lurks under the deceptively simple façade of suburban life, the production design for Desperate Housewives is equally complex.“The challenge is the volume of characters and storylines that are overlapping and the number of sets that it requires to keep all that working,” says Thomas A. Walsh, production designer on the show. “In any given episode we could have as many as 36 sets going.”The storytelling on Desperate Housewives is extremely dense, cutting quickly from character to character and scene to scene. That means the show “just eats up a lot of visual information,” Walsh says. “There’s probably a good 25 percent to 30 percent of what we do that never makes the final cut.”What is on screen is critical, however, and Walsh says one of the challenges from the show’s start was to give each character a visual identity that is immediately identifiable even in short bursts.There also are a lot of resources to manage for each episode’s nine-day shoot. “We have six stages and a very large back lot component where our street is that we have to maintain and update for each episode,” says Walsh.Additions to the show in its second season included the advertising agency where Felicity Huffman’s character goes to work. “We built a very cutting edge kind of ad agency—cutting edge but conservative at the same time,” Walsh says.The season also posed a unique challenge as the feud between Edie and Susan, played respectively by Nicollette Sheridan and Teri Hatcher, reached a new height when Edie burns down Susan’s home.“In two and a half days we had to take our standing house and turn it into a charred hulk,” Walsh says. “Then we had to restore it for flashbacks in the finale.”Keeping the show fresh has been a challenge Walsh has tackled in both the second and in the upcoming third season. He says he wants the show to evolve and not become complacent in the face of the its immense success.The third season will see several additions to the show’s sets, including a long-needed standing hospital set, a bathroom and backyard for Marcia Cross’ Bree Van De Kamp, and a backyard for the Scavo family.“There’s a lot of honing in and embellishing of our characters going on,” he says.2006: Nominated for an Art Directors Guild Award for excellence in production design for Desperate Housewives; 2005: Nominated for an Emmy for outstanding art direction on a single-camera series for Desperate Housewives; 1999: Won an Emmy for outstanding art direction for a series for Buddy Faro; Nominated for an Art Directors Guild Award for excellence in production design for Buddy Faro; 1995: Nominated for an Emmy for outstanding art direction in a miniseries or special for In Search of Dr. Seuss

Written by Tom McLean

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