HBO Presents “THE PACIFIC”

HBO brings the most expensive miniseries ever made in history, THE PACIFIC is a USD $200 million production executive produced by the guys behind HBO’s Emmy award winning miniseries, Band of Brothers.

The Pacific

PRESS RELEASE

HBO brings to Asia the epic and highly-anticipated miniseries, THE PACIFIC, in a special two-episode premiere Saturday 3 April, 9pm on HBO / HBO HD, less than three weeks after its US premiere.

The most expensive HBO miniseries ever made in history, THE PACIFIC is a USD $200 million production based on the true stories of Marines in the Pacific Theatre of World War II. Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman, the creative team behind the Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, reunite to serve as executive producers in this companion piece. Hanks and Goetzman also executive produced the HBO miniseries John Adams, which won a record-breaking 13 Emmys® in 2008.

Unflinching and realistic, THE PACIFIC tracks the intertwined odysseys of three US Marines – Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale), Eugene Sledge (Joe Mazzello) and John Basilone (Jon Seda) – across the vast canvas of the Pacific Theater during World War II. The extraordinary experiences of these men and their fellow Marines take them from the first clash with the Japanese in the haunted jungles of Guadalcanal, through the impenetrable rain forests of Cape Gloucester, across the blasted coral strongholds of Peleliu, up the bloody sand terraces of Iwo Jima, through the killing fields of Okinawa, to the triumphant, yet uneasy return home after V-J Day.

THE PACIFIC is based in part on the books With the Old Breed by Eugene B. Sledge, which was hailed by historian Paul Fussell as “one of the finest memoirs to emerge from any war”, and Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie (recipient of the Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Annual Award), with additional material from Red Blood, Black Sand by Chuck Tatum, China Marine by Eugene B. Sledge, as well as original interviews conducted by the filmmakers. Continuing the World War II oral history work begun by his father Stephen E. Ambrose (author of the book Band of Brothers) is Hugh Ambrose, who serves as a consultant on the miniseries.

THE PACIFIC is produced by HBO in association with Playtone and DreamWorks Television. Production was based at Melbourne Central City Studios in Melbourne, Victoria. Filming took place in and around Melbourne, where US troops camped in 1943, and multiple locations in Far North Queensland. The series was helmed by various directors: Carl Franklin (Devil in a Blue Dress), David Nutter (HBO’s Entourage), Jeremy Podeswa (HBO’s Six Feet Under), Tim Van Patten (HBO’s The Sopranos), Graham Yost (HBO’s Band of Brothers) and Tony To (HBO’s Band of Brothers). Writers include: Laurence Andries (HBO’s Six Feet Under), Michelle Ashford (HBO’s John Adams), Bruce C. McKenna (HBO’s Band of Brothers), George Pelecanos (HBO’s The Wire), Robert Schenkkan (The Quiet American) and Graham Yost. Music is by Hans Zimmer, Geoff Zanelli and Blake Neely.

In addition to James Badge Dale (Rubicon), Joe Mazzello (The Sensation of Sigh) and Jon Seda (Close to Home), actors featured in THE PACIFIC include: Jon Bernthal (Eastwick), Joshua Bitton (National Treasure), Dwight Braswell, Betty Buckley (HBO’s Oz), Tom Budge (Last Train to Freo), Josh Close (The Unusuals), Nate Corddry (United States of Tara), Matt Craven (Public Enemies), Linda Cropper (McLeod’s Daughters), Caroline Dhavernas (Breach), Noel Fisher (The Riches), Brendan Fletcher (88 Minutes), Leon Willem Ford (HBO’s Tsunami: The Aftermath), Scott Gibson (Breach), Josh Helman (McLeod’s Daughters), Ashton Holmes (Smart People), Brandon Keener (He’s Just Not That Into You), Isabel Lucas (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), Rami Malek (Night at the Museum), Martin McCann (Closing the Ring), Ian Meadows (Home and Away), Toby Leonard Moore (Dollhouse), Henry Nixon (The Black Balloon), Keith Nobbs (The Black Donnellys), Conor O’Farrell (CSI), Annie Parisse (Law & Order), Jacob Pitts (21), William Sadler (The Shawshank Redemption), Gary Sweet (Police Rescue), Anna Torv (Fringe), Claire van der Boom (Rush) and Dylan Young (Canal Road).

Don’t miss the Asian television premiere of THE PACIFIC, Saturday 3 April, 9pm on HBO / HBO HD; new episodes air every Saturday at 9pm. Viewers can also catch THE PACIFIC on HBO Signature from Friday 9 April at 8pm. Log on to www.hboasia.com for more play times.

The Pacific - About the Story

ABOUT THE STORY
On 8 December 1941, just over 24 hours after the Japanese surprise attack on the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Congress issued a formal declaration of war against the Empire of Japan. For a decade, tensions had been mounting between Japan and the US, as the Japanese expanded their conquest of a large region including much of China and Southeast Asia. As a result of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the United States officially entered World War II, already in its third year of being waged by countries of the Allied powers, including the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, Canada and Australia, against the Axis powers of Japan, Germany and Italy.

Practically overnight, military recruiting offices across the country were jammed, as thousands of Americans rushed to enlist in the armed forces. Many of those young men chose to join the Marine Corps, which saw its ranks more than triple in the six months following Pearl Harbor.

While Band of Brothers followed the experiences of one company of Army paratroopers in the European Theater of Operations, THE PACIFIC depicts the war a world away, in the Pacific Theater of Operations, which encompassed most of the Pacific Ocean and its islands, including the Philippines, the Netherlands East Indies, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. This miniseries follows the intersecting odysseys of three men of the 1st Marine Division; an infantry division nicknamed “The Old Breed” for its position as the oldest and largest active duty division of the US Marine Corps. With the support of their fellow Marines and comrades in the Navy, Air Force and Army, the 1st Marine Division was at the forefront of many of hardest-fought campaigns of the Pacific War.

Over the span of ten hours, THE PACIFIC takes an unflinching “under the helmet” look at the experiences of these men and their brothers in arms, each of whom finds himself fighting for his life on faraway specks of land they had never heard of – Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, Okinawa. Forced to endure extreme deprivation and a debilitating climate, while fighting a brutal enemy who would rather die than consider surrender, these Marines are driven to the brink of their humanity. THE PACIFIC depicts these battles – physical, mental and emotional – as it explores the true human cost of war.

ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

The HBO miniseries The Pacific chronicles the wartime journeys of three Marines, spanning thousands of miles over land and sea, from the United States to the many Pacific Islands where historic battles took place. The mammoth undertaking of recreating these locations for the camera fell to the talented team of production designer Anthony Pratt, supervising art directors Dominic Hyman and Richard Hobbs, art director Scott Bird, Far North Queensland art director Charlie Revai, and location supervisor Nick Daubeny.

Pratt and Daubeny were veterans of HBO’s 2001 miniseries Band of Brothers, and brought a similar care for detail to this project. As on Band of Brothers, a production team from The Pacific, including Pratt, Daubeny, co-executive producer Bruce C. McKenna and historical consultant Hugh Ambrose, journeyed to the real-life battle sites of Guadalcanal and Peleliu before set construction and design began. Daubeny says that visiting the historic sites strongly influenced the miniseries’ settings, observing, “Our recreated locations become rather chilling places, because they echoed the original battlegrounds that we saw.”

Production designer Pratt notes the importance of studying the details of the original locales, observing, “You look in particular at textures. One of the first things I noticed was the distinctive coral rock at Peleliu, which was eventually recreated from photographs for our production.” Although these location visits were invaluable in recapturing the past, the art department couldn’t always copy what it saw. During wartime, islands like Peleliu were stripped of trees by gunfire; today, these islands have thick vegetation, and the designers had to rely a great deal on reference photographs and archival footage.

Principal photography for The Pacific was conducted on location over a ten-month period beginning in August 2007 in Australia’s Far North Queensland and in and around Melbourne, in the state of Victoria. Most of the jungle and beach landing scenes were split between two main locations in Far North Queensland: Drumsara, located near Port Douglas, and Rocky Point, a town further north. Drumsara housed 12 sets, including the numerous island jungles of Guadalcanal and New Britain, as well as a coconut plantation of the sort common to many Pacific islands. Also recreated at Drumsara was the narrow pass on Guadalcanal where Sgt. John Basilone and his fellow Marines prevented Japanese advancement, an action for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

To the north, Rocky Point was the site of two key beach landing sequences, as well as the locale for Guadalcanal’s Alligator Creek. The location offered a dramatic landscape for the filming of two quite different landings: The deceptively calm landing at Guadalcanal was shot on the northern beach, and the viciously fought Peleliu landing on the southern. To create Alligator Creek, the team constructed from scratch an entire creek on privately owned beachfront property, bringing to life the scene of the desperate night battle and site of the first combat seen by Robert Leckie. A crocodile and snake wrangler came out ahead of the crew every day while filming at Drumsara and Rocky Point.

The miniseries also takes its three heroes into the streets and ordinary life of World War II Melbourne. Location supervisor Nick Daubeny observes, “The Marines were in Melbourne for many months, and we have a whole episode that tells this story. We had to close streets, especially around the iconic Flinders Street Station. Every Australian of a certain age remembers the American troops there with joy and sometimes envy.” The period scenes in Melbourne were all shot on location or at Melbourne Central City Studios, which was also used for the interior scenes set on the homefront in America. Additional homecoming scenes were also filmed on location in and around Melbourne.

The battlefields of Iwo Jima and Okinawa were built at Hillview Quarry in Victoria’s You Yangs district, located near Melbourne. At the quarry the production crew was joined daily by herds of kangaroo. This large quarry set also provided the site for the Battle of Peleliu, the first part of which was shot in Far North Queensland, requiring that the quarry be redressed to match the other set’s vegetation and devastation to provide proper continuity. To recreate the coral atoll of Peleliu and other locales, the art department sculpted some 750 pieces of coral. And to replicate the distinctive black sand of Iwo Jima, huge amounts of sand were mined and refined from a local company that is one of the world’s few suppliers of scoria, a black lava rock.

Many of the sets took 12 to 13 weeks to build, with the end goal of destroying them in the course of shooting. Looking back on his team’s hard work, Far North Queensland art director Charlie Revai reflects, “I suppose the proudest moment is knowing the set works and then seeing it entirely blown up – which is great too, because that’s the intent of it all.”

THE PACIFIC premieres on Saturday 3 April, 9pm on HBO / HBO HD; new episodes air every Saturday at 9pm.

The Pacific: Trailer (HBO)

CHARACTERS

Robert Leckie

PRIVATE FIRST CLASS ROBERT LECKIE played by James Badge Dale
Private First Class (PFC) Robert Leckie grew up in Rutherford, NJ, one of eight children. He began a professional sports writing career for the Bergen Evening Record newspaper at age 16. Leckie, christened “Lucky” by his comrades in arms, was one of those who enlisted in the Marine Corps just after Pearl Harbor. He served with H Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division as a machine gunner.

John Basilone

SGT. JOHN BASILONE played by Jon Seda
Sgt. John Basilone was raised in Raritan, NJ, one of ten children of Italian immigrant parents. In 1934, at age 18, Basilone enlisted in the US Army and served three years in the Philippines, where he was a champion boxer. After a brief return to New Jersey, Basilone enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1940 and was a machine gunner with C Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, and later with the B Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division.

Eugene Sledge

PFC EUGENE B. SLEDGE played by Joe Mazzello
Born to a privileged family in Mobile, Ala., PFC Eugene B. Sledge had relatives on both sides of his family who fought for the Confederacy. Sledge was the son of a physician who was a medical officer during the First World War; he had turned 18 just one month before the US entered the war, but a heart condition kept him from enlisting until December 1942. Although his family urged him to train as an officer, Sledge ultimately joined as an enlisted man and served with K Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division as a mortar man.

EPISODIC SYNOPSIS

S101: PART ONE
Written by: Bruce C. McKenna Directed by: Tim Van Patten

In the immediate aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Marine Sgt. John Basilone prepares to ship out and confront the enemy somewhere in the Pacific, while budding journalist Robert Leckie enlists in the Marine Corps. Eugene Sledge, unable to enlist because of a heart murmur, says farewell to his best friend, Sidney Phillips, who is about to leave for boot camp. Exactly eight months after Pearl Harbor, the 1st Marine Division, including Leckie and Phillips, lands on Guadalcanal in order to secure its strategically vital airfield and prepare for the inevitable counterattack.

S102: PART TWO
Written by: Bruce C. McKenna Directed by: David Nutter

Basilone and the 7th Marines arrive on Guadalcanal to reinforce Leckie and the rest of the 1st Marine Division as they continue to defend the crucial airstrip. Basilone plays a key role in repelling a nighttime Japanese attack, but suffers a terrible personal loss. After four months of continuous action, the exhausted and disease-ridden members of the 1st Marine Division are evacuated off the island.

S103: PART THREE
Written by: George Pelecanos and Michelle Ashford Directed by: Jeremy Podeswa

Physically and mentally debilitated after the four-month ordeal on Guadalcanal, Leckie, Basilone and thousands of their comrades land in Melbourne, where they are greeted by adoring crowds and viewed as the saviors of Australia. While his buddies carouse, Leckie becomes deeply attached to an Australian woman and her first-generation Greek family. Meanwhile, Basilone is awarded the Medal of Honor and is asked to return home to help sell US war bonds.

S104: PART FOUR
Written by: Robert Schenkkan and Graham Yost Directed by: Graham Yost

Finally enlisted as a Marine, Sledge trains for combat at Camp Elliott. The 1st Marine Division lands at Cape Gloucester on the Japanese-held island of New Britain. As Leckie and the other Marines battle the Japanese, they quickly realize that the more ominous enemy is the smothering jungle itself. Having survived Gloucester and stationed on the godforsaken island of Pavuvu, Leckie begins displaying the physical and mental effects of combat and is sent to a naval hospital on nearby Banika for psychiatric observation.

S105: PART FIVE
Written by: Laurence Andries and Bruce C. McKenna Directed by: Carl Franklin

Basilone’s celebrity grows as he travels across the country on the war bonds tour. On Pavuvu, Sledge, assigned to the 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, is briefly reunited with Phillips and Leckie rejoins his company. Sledge then gets his first taste of combat as he, Leckie, and the rest of the 1st Marine Division meet fierce Japanese resistance while landing on the intricately and heavily defended coral island of Peleliu.

S106: PART SIX
Written by: Bruce C. McKenna, Laurence Andries and Robert Schenkkan
Directed by: Tony To

Despite the suffocating 115-degree heat and a lack of clean drinking water, Sledge, Leckie and the other Marines confront the highly-fortified enemy as they attempt to capture the Peleliu airfield. Leckie gets wounded in battle and is evacuated from the island. Sledge witnesses the shocking truth about what is sometimes required to survive and fight another day.

S107: PART SEVEN
Written by: Bruce C. McKenna Directed by: Tim Van Patten

The Marines, including the newly christened “Sledgehammer,” continue the battle of Peleliu against an enemy determined to fight to the last man. Devastated by the loss of a revered leader, and witnessing unimaginable barbarity on both sides, Sledge veers to the very edge of moral collapse. Their objective finally secured, the Marines return to Pavuvu, deeply changed by their experience on Peleliu.

S108: PART EIGHT
Written by: Robert Schenkkan and Michelle Ashford
Directed by: David Nutter and Jeremy Podeswa

Increasingly frustrated by his role campaigning for war bonds, Basilone convinces the Marines to allow him to train troops headed for combat. Transferred to Camp Pendleton, he enjoys a whirlwind romance with an initially reluctant female Marine, Lena Riggi. But the couple knows they are living on borrowed time, as Basilone is soon to take part in the Marine landing on Iwo Jima.

S109: PART NINE
Written by: Bruce C. McKenna Directed by: Tim Van Patten

After battling across the island of Okinawa for over a month, Sledge and the rest of the 1st Marine Division are ordered to relieve an Army division that has been in combat against the most strongly defended Japanese position on the island. The primordial conditions and the moral dilemma posed by the presence of civilians put tremendous strain on the physical and psychological endurance of Sledge and the other Marines.

S110: PART TEN
Written by: Bruce C. McKenna and Robert Schenkkan Directed by: Jeremy Podeswa

After the Japanese surrender, Leckie, healed from his wounds, leaves the hospital and returns home, while Sledge heads back to Alabama to be reunited with his family and Sid Phillips. Lena visits Basilone’s home and has an emotional meeting with his family. Leckie adjusts to post-war life by resuming his old job and starting a new relationship, but for Sledge, unsure why he survived the war seemingly unscathed, adjustment will require more time.

PROGRAM SCHEDULE (HBO / HBO HD)

The Pacific: Program Schedule

Encores of each episode air on Sundays at 8pm and Mondays at 10pm

Viewers can also catch up on missing episodes of THE PACIFIC with HBO Signature’s extensive back-to-back encores: Every Tuesday to Friday at 8pm, from 27 April 2010

Log on to www.hboasia.com for more play times.