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San Diego Union-Tribune: Borrego Springs lands TV favorite

San Diego Union-Tribune
Borrego Springs lands TV favorite
Kristen Green

At 110 and little shade, heat is on for filming of 8th season’s opener

BORREGO SPRINGS — If the popular television show “The X-Files” isn’t getting hotter in its eighth season, certainly its cast and crew are.

The science fiction show’s season premiere is being filmed in Borrego Springs, where temperatures have soared to 110 degrees this week. A cast and crew of about 125 descended on the small desert community last weekend, arriving on buses. About 100 others will replace them next week.

Despite the steamy weather, the crew hasn’t complained that it’s filming in one of the hottest spots in the nation, said Ilt Jones, who scouted the location for the Fox TV network.

“There used to be a time when people said, ‘What the hell are you bringing us here for?,’ ” said Jones, the show’s location manager. “But anything’s possible on ‘The X-Files.’ That’s the beauty of the show.”

At least one crew member, however, didn’t find working in nature’s blast furnace the least bit beautiful. He quipped with the location team: “Could you have possibly picked a hotter spot?”

Other crew members, heads covered in straw hats and noses coated in purple sun block, stood in front of huge fans that sprayed a constant mist of water. They made frequent trips to a tent filled with coolers full of icy drinks, including bottled water delivered on a refrigerated truck.

Harry Bring, one of the show’s producers, said he’s accustomed to filming under extreme conditions. Once, while he was a producer for “Melrose Place,” he filmed a water-skiing scene in sleet and snow, he said.

And, while most of the crew of “The X-Files” seem to be indifferent to spending a couple of weeks in the desert, the Borrego Springs community — whose population drops to about 3,000 in the summer — is thrilled about the presence of the Hollywood visitors.

“The whole town’s talking about it,” said Scott Tynan, a grocery store owner who is supplying food for Fox’s caterers.

Fox producers called “kind of out of the blue” about a week ago to ask whether they could film in three locations in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, including the park headquarters, said Park Ranger Fred Jee. They also are filming in the Split Mountain and Font’s Point areas.

During a time of year when many Borrego Springs hotel rooms would be vacant, most resorts are booked solid for the next couple of weeks.

“Absolutely nothing is available,” said Shane McClung of La Casa del Zorro Desert Resort.

Some restaurant owners are changing their hours daily to accommodate the crew’s schedule. Kathy King, who runs a coffee shop and bookstore, offered to open at 3 a.m. to make lattes for the crew members as they were getting off work.

“August is the worst month in the world down here,” King said. “We will do anything we can to make a buck.”

This is the first time “The X-Files” has filmed in San Diego County, but Borrego Springs will portray a fictitious Arizona town called Flemington. And the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park headquarters has been converted into a school for deaf children.

Producers are keeping the plot under wraps, but David Duchovny’s character, Fox Mulder, will make an appearance on the two-part premiere, Bring said. Mulder was abducted by aliens in last season’s finale.

Duchovny will arrive in Borrego Springs next week, and writer Chris Carter has said Duchovny will return for 11 of the season’s 20 episodes.

Gillian Anderson, who plays Dana Scully, has been in town all week. On Wednesday, she celebrated a birthday with a vanilla and chocolate marble cake made by King’s bakery.

Robert Patrick, known for his role as the T-1000 in “Terminator 2,” also has been in Borrego Springs this week. His character, FBI Agent John Doggett, will be introduced in the premiere.

The first episode of the new season is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. Nov. 5. The conclusion of the two-parter will run Nov. 12.

By then, Borrego Springs residents will be relaxing in 80-degree temperatures.

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