DATE: Thursday, April 3, 1997               TAG: 9704020106



                                            LENGTH:   96 lines


WHILE FILMING A SCENE in Virginia Beach for a locally produced TV series called ``The New Detectives,'' Arthur Edwards looked and acted like a homicidal maniac.

That was precisely what director Joseph Wiecha wanted.

Edwards hadn't shaved or washed his hair in three days. He wore clothes that even Columbo wouldn't touch - dirty and wrinkled. As a wild-eyed Edwards approached a shopper played by Audra Stovall, he appeared to be a madman who had zeroed in on his next victim.

Edwards was cast as serial killer Richard Trenton Chase, a man who not only drank the blood of his victims out of a paper cup, he also bathed in it.

Edwards was good at being cold-bloodedly bad. While New Dominion Pictures was shooting the ``Mind Hunters'' episode of ``The New Detectives'' at a Hilltop shopping center, strangers tried to rescue Stovall.

``Before the director yelled, `Cut,' a tough-looking guy who appeared to a Marine or a Navy SEAL came up to me and said, `Man, I was about to bop you one,' '' said Edwards.

Be advised, citizens of Hampton Roads. Actors at work.

Executive producer Tom Naughton and producers Mike Sinclair and Peter Koeppen will be among us, filming here, there and everywhere in the months to come. New Dominion is producing 13 episodes of ``The New Detectives: Case Studies in Forensic Science'' for the Discovery Channel.''

Edwards' ``Mind Hunters'' episode is scheduled to premiere April 22 at 9 p.m. It's about how real-life ``profilers,'' whose work has inspired new dramas on NBC and Fox, get inside the heads of serial killers to aid police in pursuit of sociopaths.

While writers, producers, directors and technical crews from New Dominion work on this project, others will be hip deep in another production to be filmed hereabouts: ``Ghost Stories.''

This is an exciting time for New Dominion. After making a name for itself in cable by producing award-winning programs for Discovery and The Learning Channel, New Dominion this year will syndicate ``Ghost Stories'' in partnership with All-American Television. The series has been sold to TV stations in 70 percent of U.S. markets. (WVBT will carry it here).

Naughton expects the figure will be closer to 90 percent by Fall. In a few weeks, Rip Torn will be in Virginia Beach to film his part of ``Ghost Stories,'' which is introducing the episodes.

With work completed on ``The Larry Sanders Show starring Garry Shandling'' - shooting does not resume until next March - Torn is working on Broadway in Horton Foote's play, ``The Young Man from Atlanta.''

Naughton is delighted to have ``Ghost Stories'' hosted by Torn, whose career has been revived at age 66 with his work on ``Larry Sanders,'' which earned him an Emmy. He's great as Arthur, the producer of Sanders' talk show.

Torn is headed this way. If you see him, ask him about tomatoes. Torn is a master gardener.

``He's a great actor and a wonderful storyteller. He's somebody we really wanted,'' said Naughton.

By the time Torn arrives in Virginia Beach, work will likely be completed on New Dominion's 9,000-square-foot studio in the company's new digs on International Parkway near Lynnhaven Mall. Already up and running are the offices, editing suites and a smaller studio.

Seven years ago, New Dominion was only an idea - Naughton's dream. Money was so scarce that Naughton had to borrow $50 from his wife to secure a copyright for the company's first project - bringing the stories in Archaeology magazine to cable.

Today, New Dominion's budgets are in the millions. It's a company that is highly respected by TV insiders (and a CableAce winner), if not well known to the general public.

Looking back to his recent visit to New Orleans to sell ``Ghost Stories'' to at a convention of station owners, Naughton said, ``We heard a lot of `Who are these guys from Virginia Beach?' We had a lot of high-quality stuff to show them. Now they know who are are.''

Naughton employs about 60 people full time and uses dozens of others from coast to coast when he needs them. New Dominion's rise means more work for local actors like Edwards. While Hampton Roads isn't Hollywood, where every waiter, messenger and valet is an aspiring actor, there is a large pool of talent here, said Marsha Wulf of the Talent Link agency in Newport News.

``Those who think you must go to New York or California to find capable actors because there are none here, are totally misinformed. There is a lot of talent here that is highly underrated,'' she said.

She was delighted to learn that ``Ghost Stories'' will soon begin filming here. The first script has been completed.

``They will do 22 episodes with two stories in each episodes. That means 44 opportunities for local actors,'' said Wulf.

The Discovery Channel on April 1 began running ``The New Detectives: Case Studies in Forensic Science'' with three hours that New Dominion produced last year - starting with a repeat of ``Soldier Story.'' It's about forensic anthropologists who identify the remains of troops lost in battle.

The new episodes begin April 22, and will run until July 15. One will deal with the O.J. Simpson trial. Also in July, The Learning Channel begins reruns of the New Dominion series, ``The Quest,'' which covers everything from making mummies to the search for Bigfoot.

About that time, ``Ghost Stories'' should be in full production. We await the visit of Rip Torn to judge our tomatoes. Hollywood comes to Virginia Beach. ILLUSTRATION: Photo



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