On Sunday, Cinebarre played host to a gala screening of the Season 5 premiere of the Lifetime hit Army Wives. Filmed right here in Charleston, the show has been the biggest success in the 23-year history of Lifetime, and cast, crew, family, friends, press, and fans showed up in full force to celebrate.
The Cinebarre staff was decked out in army attire, serving free drinks to the gathering press and invited guests, which totaled well over 100 people. The party blew employee Alicia Jackson away. “I thought Harry Potter was nuts but this ... We’re gonna have a lot of work to do.”
The big premiere evening is something that the Charleston area doesn’t get a lot of. There are theater openings, to be sure, but they lack the scope of Sunday night’s event. Yes, many in the crowd were crew and invited guests, but a great deal were simply fans of the show that arrived early, awaiting the arrivals of their favorite stars, hoping to have a conversation or grab a photo.
Sally Pressman and Drew Fuller, who play Roxy and Trevor LeBlanc on the show, snapped photos with younger fans and enjoyed hearty conversation with others. Catherine Bell, who plays Denise Sherwood, had her family with her, and we had a chance to discuss her newest addition; her son Ronan was born alongside her character’s new baby girl Molly. The pregnancy subplot of Season 4 was added because of Bell’s pregnancy, and the finale saw the birth of the child. Bell described the experience as “life imitating art.”
Kim Delaney spoke to us about the experience of working on the show and working in the area. “It is like coming home,” she said. “It’s like a family. By the fifth year, it’s like a family.” The former NYPD Blue star had some thoughts about the excitement in the air at Cinebarre. “We’re excited. It’s the fifth season. A lot of shows don’t last that long. We’re very fortunate. Very lucky.”
“It’s big for Charleston, and it’s a big premiere for us,” was the sentiment given by Terry Serpico, known to his fans as Lt. Colonel Frank Sherwood. Serpico greeted fans and press with a huge smile and evident excitement. He also had a lot to say about the upcoming season. I asked about the Sherwood family’s new developments, which include a new baby and the marriage of their son Jeremy, played by actor Richard Bryant. Bryant was one of the actors missing from the big premiere, alongside regulars Sterling Brown, Brian McNamara, and Brigid Brannagh.
“Well it’s all gonna be very interesting, no doubt about that,” Serpico said. “I think Frank in particular finds himself in a position with the new baby ... This is not necessarily what he was planning to do with his golden years. So he’s very excited and I don’t think he’s ever felt more excited about something. But he’s also torn between his duties as a father and his duties as a father.”
Serpico is one of the actors who find they walk a fine line on the show, balancing the hard line of the military while being a family man. Many in attendance Sunday were military families, invited by the producers. “Frank represents to a great degree the kind of rank and file of the army and the military in general. I get soldiers all the time that say to me ‘I know that guy. I served with that guy.’ And to me that is the highest praise I can receive. So I feel a particular responsibility to get him right and that I don’t drop the real soldier that’s inside.”
Serpico and Delaney both echoed the excitement of the cast and crew to finally get the show up in front of its fans and see how everything pans out, including the new time slot. The show has been moved to Sunday nights at 9 p.m.
Wendy Davis and Serpico were both coy when asked what surprises were in store for the new season, which has already filmed seven episodes and has another five to go. “Lots of laugh, lots of tears,” was all Davis, whose character Lt. Colonel Joan Burton gets some big opportunities in the premiere episode, would give me as to the surprises fans can expect from the new season.
Once inside the theater, cast and crew cheered and applauded as the new episode of Army Wives finally came on the screen. I won’t give anything away here, but I will say that the show picks up where season four left off, with the Sherwoods dealing with baby Molly, and Jeremy’s engagement to fellow soldier Tanya. Joan and Roland Burton deal with a new set of circumstances. The Holdens prep their daugher for college. Pam has to decide between her ex-husband and her new career. And Roxy hangs out with an old friend in the absence of husband Trevor.
Overall it was a great night, and one that the Charleston area could use more of. Hopefully the success of Army Wives will encourage other television shows and movies to film here. There’s something exciting about actually being on the red carpet, interviewing the stars, and doing it all from the great Cinebarre theater in Mt. Pleasant. Army Wives is back for another season, and Charleston couldn’t be more excited.