A Secret Affair
REVEALED! NEWS OF A SECRET AFFAIR
At last it can be revealed. Another classic Barbara Taylor Bradford novel has hit the screen. Barbara Taylor Bradford's A Secret Affair stars Janine Turner (from Northern Exposure, Beauty and Fatal Error) as the beautiful Vanessa, who defies her family's wish to work in their successful retail business and instead pursues her love of art; and Paudge Behan -- son of legendary playwright Brendan Behan -- as Bill, a charming Irish war correspondent with whom Vanessa meets and falls in love. The other prime location for A Secret Affair, which aired on October 27, 1999 on the CBS television network, is Ireland.
FALLING IN LOVE IN EUROPE'S GRANDEST DRAWING ROOM
When he first set eyes on it, Napoleon Bonaparte called the famed Piazza San Marco in Venice "Europe's most magnificent drawing room." It is here that Vanessa and Bill in A Secret Affair begin to realize they are falling in love. Indeed, Venice, or La Serenisima, provides the perfect background for this modern love story; it has also been the location for a number of other classic films -- among them David Lean's Summertime with Katharine Hepburn, Don't Look Now, Dangerous Beauty and A Little Romance, but this is the very first time ever that a television movie has been filmed in this most romantic of cities. Producers Robert Bradford and Andrew Adelson considered the Venice location crucial to the film and could settle for nothing less. Napoleon would have been delighted.
SNIPPETS FROM THE SET
Despite the obvious attraction of Venice, filming is an arduous task and the cast and crew did experience some unique problems. Venetian mosquitoes found the crew particularly appetizing and enjoyed feasting mainly on ankles and feet. Undeterred, the crew persevered with ointment, bandages and cold packs. Also, July and August are prime tourist season and many a visitor was politely shooed from wandering onto the set and into a shot.
The logistics in filming in the City of Canals were staggering, since there are no commercial roads for vehicular traffic. Water taxis carried the cast and crew to and from the locations, and several small barges carried heavy lighting and camera equipment. Perhaps rather aptly for Venice, all such arrangements were carried out with perfect fluidity.
Barbara Taylor Bradford's latest small-screen heroine, Janine Turner, has the entourage requirements of a Golden Age screen diva. That includes four first-class tickets for her, her mother, her two-year-old daughter Juliette and the nanny, and the hiring of a personal assisstant on location. The same deal applies for any publicity appearances requiring the star to travel from her Dallas area ranch. The producers did get one unexpected dividend. On location in Venice, Italy, there's a scene at a water bus where Janine's mother and two-year-old daughter Juliette appear as extras -- and they did work for free!
THE STORYLINE OF A SECRET AFFAIR
Vanessa (Janine Turner), a beautiful and capable young woman, has sacrificed her love of art to work in her parents' highly successful retail company. Much to the delight of her mother and father, she is also engaged to the company's CFO, Stephen (Robert Mailhouse); however, she does not love him. Defying her parent's wishes, Vanessa does not cancel a buying trip to attend a business meeting, but heads for Venice. On a crowded vaporetto on the Grand Canal, she meets Bill (Paudge Behan), a young and handsome Irish war correspondent. She gives him a polite brush off at the dock and heads for her hotel. The next day they meet (by accident?) at Piazza San Marco where, mesmerized by their surroundings and losing complete control of their emotions, they begin to fall in love. Romance continues to blossom as Bill pursues Vanessa along the canals, flanked by beautiful palazzos with their colorful flowering boxes. Vanessa returns to the "real world" and her commitments at home, her job and her engagement. But Bill will not give up on her, and finally convinces Vanessa to visit him in Ireland. A widower, Bill has a young daughter, Helena (Sarah Bolger), who stays with his mother, Drucilla (Fionuala Flanagan of Waking Ned Devine) while he is working. Vanessa meets them both. After their reunion, Bill returns to war-torn Kosovo and Vanessa returns home to face some tough decisions about her life. But what happens to Bill while on assignment in Kosovo will change both of their lives forever.
During filming one day, as leading lady Janine Turner and leading man Paudge Behan were being filmed enjoying gelati ice cream against the background of the Grand Canal, director of photography Eric Van Haren Noman sighed, "I wish a boat or a gondola would pass by." "So do I," said director Bobby Roth. Venice co-operated and when the camera rolled, a water taxi and, not one, but two gondolas passed by. In the course of their romance, Bill follows Vanessa to the island of Murano, the world-famous center of Venetian glass making. Janine Turner and Paudge Behan actually got to try their hands at creating this most exquisite and delicate of art forms in a scene filmed in the Fenice Glass Factory.
Although hot, the weather remained perfect for the entire Venice shoot, enabling completion of filming a mere one-half hour over the production schedule which, given the logistics of the location, was something of a feat.
NEWS FROM DUBLIN
Barbara Taylor Bradford has got a good eye for unknown Irish actors. In the early '80's, she handpicked Liam Neeson for her Emmy-nominated A Woman of Substance miniseries. Now she's zeroed in on Paudge Behan, a dishy Dublin thespian whose dad was the late, great Irish playwright Brendan Behan (writer of such '60's classics as The Hostage). Behan co-stars with Janine Turner in A Secret Affair, the first TV flick ever to shoot on location in Venice, Italy, and its famous glass-blowing island of Murano. It's a great view of the romantic city, as well as Dublin, where the rest of the film, under Bobby Roth's direction, was completed. Barbara Taylor Bradford and Behan also have another common link: both started as news reporters. Behan says of his short-lived journalistic career, "I interviewed everyone from priests to prostitutes before my Dublin paper folded." He may be using a little of that background in his Secret Affair role as a dashing war correspondent who meets the love of his life during a few days' R&R from the Kosovo warfront.
Executive Producers ROBERT BRADFORD | TRACEY ALEXANDER | ANDREW ADELSON
Screenplay by CAROLE REAL | Directed by BOBBY ROTH