The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 12, 1976 · Page 216
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 216

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 12, 1976
Page 216
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TVS Palm Baadi Post-Times, Sunday, December 12, 197S Charles Picerni Stuntman 'Choreographs' Wrecks for TV I mimmi eras IrnieTia PROTECT YOUR HOME & FAMILY FROM BURGLAR & BREAK INS! CUSTOM MADE TO FIT YOUR NEEDS Serving Palm Beach County MARPLE'S MACHINE SHQP844-7583 By VERNON SCOTT HOLLYWOOD (UPI) A Hollywood stunt man's dream came true some nights ago when 28 cars were crashed, mashed and bashed in a super freeway wreck for "Smash-Up On Interstate 5," an ABC-TV movie. The whole spectacular wreck was choreographed with the same loving care Fred Astaire once lavished on his dance routines. The worst that could happen to Fred was a turned ankle. Stunt men stand to lose their lives in scenes at speeds up to 60 m.p.h. Stunt coordinator Charles Picerni choreographed this particular episode on a section of a local freeway not yet opened to the public. Weeks before the scene was shot Picerni, brother of actor Paul Picerni, read the script with the care of a director. It was necessary for him to relate each of the accidents to the characters involved in driving the cars. FLYIMGlCHOOC IT1 I I I F.A.A. APPROVED APPROVSD FOR VETERANS TRAINING. RENTAL AIRCRAFT J ISO's Cherokee 180 D Full I.F.rI CESSNA 172 SKYHAWK II Full I.F.R. CESSNA 182 SKTLANE Full U.K. I AIRTAXP& CHARTER SERVICE I CESSNA SALES SERVICE MAINTE- NANCE . . . NEW AND USED AIR CRAFT. state 5." He said new vehicles are used in most movie crashes. Television budgets don't provide for such heavy expenditures. "We got 10 cars in running condition for these accident scenes," he said. "The rest were junk cars that could only be used for shots in which they'd already been wrecked in the smash-up. "I choreographed each wreck involving the principal cars, including fitting them out with special effects for turning 'em over and having them catch fire. "I had to put full roll cages on the Cadillac and the van. Both of them flip out and roll during the sequence. "We never put more than a quart or two of gasoline in the tanks to avoid explosions and unexpected fires where a driver could be trapped. "There are three or four cameras on each individual wreck because there aren't any retakes when so many vehicles are smashing into one another. Once the car is wrecked you can't put it together again. "First we rehearse at half speed, avoiding collision, and the cameras are placed in the best spots. Then we go all out. The most important thing to watch for is stunt men being thrown accidentally from the cars. "You can't let up for one second. You've got to be on the watch for the little things that could go wrong the things you take for granted." Charlie Picerni hasn't broken any bones, nor has he been burned in the course of doing a thousand stunts. His nerves, however, are something else again. "What really bothers you," he said. "Is sitting there, gunning the car, waiting for the word to speed off and crash into another automobile. You begin to sweat. You can feel your heart pounding. You've got your finger on a trip wire that can set off a small explosion and fire. "And just as you're at the breaking point the director yells, 'Hold it. We gotta reload the camera.' It's those moments you remember in your dreams." "Some of the characters are killed," he explained. "Others are injured. The stunt coordinator has to know as much about the characters as the director. "Once I knew what was expected, I had a production meeting with the director. We had a huge board with the freeway detailed and about 100 miniature cars. "Then we worked out where each car would be at the time of the smash-up. The key cars carrying the leading actors are highly identifiable. "For instance, Buddy Ebsen and Harriet Nelson are in a Cadillac. Vera Miles is in a Fiat. Sue Lyon is riding a motorcycle. David Groh is driving a semi-truck and Bob Conrad is driving a police car. "Naturally all the actors were doubled in the crashes. I used 13 stunt men, including myself, in the wrecks. It took us three days of actual shooting after more than two weeks of preparation. "Preparation is the secret to all successful stunt work. The better you prepare a stunt the safer it will go. It's easier to do dangerous stunts for movies because you have more time. In television you're on a deadline from beginning to end. "I work with a key group of stunt men on almost all my assignments. We've worked together so long that we know exactly what to do to protect one another if an emergency arises. "I surround myself with 100 good extras who are not quite stunt men but who have been around long enough to know what is expected of them." Picerni, also stunt coordinator and chief stunt man for "Starsky and Hutch," is one of about 175 qualified stunt men in Hollywood. About a third of them are rated top-flight automobile specialists. These are the men seen in movies and television rolling cars over, being thrown from vehicles or even being run down by them. Picerni took part in selecting the cars used in "Smash-Up On Inter GARDEN AVIATION PALM BEACH GARDENS AIRPORT NORTHLAKE BLVD. W. OF TURNPIKE 622-2520 or 844-7252 Cessna r RENT VJE iDLL MEDICARE AN AIR CONDITIONED AND AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION CAR FOR AS LITTLE AS . . . BIREOT $1 trT95 PER BAY HEALTH IKC. Subject to Availability ($67.00 PER WEEK) TRANSPORTATION PROVIDED FROM AIRPORT OXYGEN HOSPITAL BEOS WHEEL CHAIRS COMMODES IFPB MACHINES WALKERS OSTOMY APPLIANCES & S'JPPLtES PROVIDED TO ELIGIBLE MEDICARE PATIENTS AT HOME. PLUS . . . OTHER AUTHORIZED EQUIPMENT (or Imimdiat Infarmotion 0 Salts t Kintals . . . AND HOTEL A mm W'!mmmmmmMmmmMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmimmmMB :2 '689-4433 X845"1544 2712 OKEECHOBEE BLVD. X 3708 INDUSTRIAL WAY West Polm Beoch R'viero Beach 33404 In ttw Habe found area tall: BoCd-Delray: WIPER BLADES with TUNE-UP S 278-6284 I naSEr 19.95 Computerized Analysis Plus Ports Nationwide Guarantee 6,000 Miles or 120 Days on Parts & Labor i mmm i mmm tmiu ,J -Af 3 J D I t2CS3 1 REPLACEMENT OF OLD WINDOWS r ZLM TUNE UPfgm COMPLETE BRAKE SERVICE AIR CONDITIONING SERVICE WE EMPLOY MECHANICS CERTIFIED BY bs Aft k;COD G 2320 OKEECHOBEE BLVD. Where Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. Meets Okeechobee Blvd. 689-4222 ASK FOR AN0DIZED ITS A MUST FOR FLORIDA CLIMATE CfifinTOfflr f we ADD A ROOM I 14qiJtnitJtlJt JltllJuilllhlUlllX. SCREEN PATIO OR PORCH . ....... I INTO A BEAUTIFUL ROOM 1 Palm Beaches: 659-0383 "S5F 1 let us show you theif credentials

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