Lights, Camera, Action!

By Bruce Reichert
May 22, 2007

Hawley speaking"Call Harry Orchard!" bellowed James Hawley, from the prosecutor’s desk in the court room. Seated next to him, William Borah winced, then managed a one-liner that brought down the house. "Where the hell is he, in Kuna?!"

It was just one of the special moments our Production team was laughing about Friday evening, after five hectic days of prep work and shooting for "Assassination: Idaho’s Trial of the Century."

Clarence DarrowWe had taken over the court room in Boise’s ancient Borah Building, intent upon re-enacting the pivotal moments in a trial that put Idaho on the map 100 years ago this month.

The actors played their parts to perfection. James Hawley and William Borah for the prosecution. Clarence Darrow and Edmund Richardson for the defense. Harry Orchard as the dynamiter who found religion. And Big Bill Haywood, on trial for his life, for supposedly paying Orchard to assassinate former Governor Frank Steunenberg.

Trial audienceWhile the actors were all professionals, our audience consisted of folks from the community willing to dress up in costumes, put on make-up, and have someone mess with their hair. Every day  different people sat in the benches, happy to play a small role in this big story.

"I can’t tell you what this has meant to me," said one woman who had answered our call for audience members. "It was wonderful! I thank you so much for giving me this experience."

Trial juryOur jury was a collection of some of the best beards in the state. They were the first ones you saw upon entering the court room, and right away you knew this was going to be a wild week!

Television is a collaborative effort and reenacting a 100 year old trial could not have happened without the efforts of folks like Joan Yost, who handled all our costuming; Judy Austin and Byron Johnson, who provided invaluable assistance on the script; Frances Alves, our make-up person; Rex Morris, our "resident skeptic" and gaffer; Pat Metzler and Jeff Tucker, our experts behind the camera; Ric Ochoa, our audio guy; Morgan Dethman, our artistic counsel; Johnnie Whitby, our hair stylist; Pat Cosgrove, our handyman extraordinaire. And there are literally dozens of others who deserve to be upset because I haven’t mentioned them here.

We still have a few more scenes to shoot outside the court room, before we can begin editing the hour-long program that will air statewide in November.

But I know, in my heart, that this past week will be the highlight of our efforts. There are just some events that have "magic" written all over them.

We may have begun as strangers, but for one shining week in May, we were all family.