Burning Down the House (or Not)

It’s been a dilemma for Michael Weston: blow up your home at the end of next year or pack up and get out now?

Burn Notice is getting to stay in Miami. They will not, however, be blowing up the convention center at season’s end. Or, at least, not in real life. In case you were worried by the recent hullabaloo surrounding the seventh season of the spy show—before it had even officially been picked up for a seventh season—worry no more.

If you didn’t realize there was hullabaloo, well . . . it’s Miami, baby. Our politicians like to give Chicago a run for the money in the fields of crazy and corruption.

It seems when Coconut Grove, the city in Miami-Dade County that actually serves as the production home of Burn Notice, first agreed to lease the waterfront convention center, people didn’t exactly expect the show to last. Or at the very least, to stay. And why not? South Florida in general is a pretty transient area and a show about a burned spy? Well, that could be picked up and moved anywhere, right? Besides, at the time, Miami had a bad habit of hosting a string of failed projects (Sins of the City, Maximum Bob, Lawless…) and had lost some of the luster of its Miami Vice days.

Of course, since then Dexter, CSI Miami, The Glades, and Burn Notice have all showcased the Magic City. Not to mention the string of recent reality shows like The Real Housewives of Miami, Miami Salvage Wars, and South Beach Tow along with movies like Rock of Ages, Step Up Revolution, and the upcoming Pain and Gain.

Which is not to say that the economy of South Florida is exactly booming, so when the locals in the film industry heard Coconut Grove might be ousting Burn Notice, they were understandably upset. Equally freaked were the local restaurants and shops that have been servicing the cast and crew all these years.

Coconut Grove home for sale
You kids keep your burned out cars off my lawn!
On the other hand, the old money and outdoor enthusiasts of Coconut Grove had been promised a waterfront park to replace the eyesore of an aging convention center and they were tired of waiting. Old money is historically unimpressed with Hollywood flash as it is, but having “burned-out cars, concrete and trailers” on its waterfront is unacceptable.

Coconut Grove tried to talk the production into moving to the Wynwood Arts district about seven or eight miles away, which is about half gentrified lofts and half decrepit warehouses, but producers said renovating the space over there would cost too much and they might as well move to Broward County or out of Florida altogether.

Renovation isn’t the only problem with moving, even to another spot in Miami-Dade. Bob Lemchen, the head of production for Fox Television Studios, told the Miami Herald “that the show is built around filming in Coconut Grove, and that scenes often feature local attractions, landmarks and restaurants.” And he’s right. Many of the show’s outdoor scenes are shot in and around Coconut Grove, including almost all the waterfront dock scenes at Dinner Key Marina.

Then City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff came up with the brilliant plan of offering the show another year’s lease if—and here’s where the Miami charm shows—they agreed to do all the convention center demolition, including carting away all the debris when they were done. Sarnoff suggested they write it into the end of the show.

Now, while anyone who’s seen Burn Notice might think they really are running a demolition crew given how often characters make and detonate explosives, film crews aren’t generally known for their  construction—or demolition—skills. Which is why, after chewing on this notion for a few days, producers came back with a more reasonable offer: paying slightly higher rent that will cover the cost of demolition when they leave. Sarnoff has supposedly agreed to this. Burn Notice is currently still filming season six, according to the Film Miami website.

Neliza Drew is a tofu-eating teacher and erratic reader with a soft spot for crime fiction. She lives in the heat and humidity of southern Florida with three cats and her adorable hubby. She listens to way too much music, writes often, and spends too much time on Twitter (@nelizadrew).

Read all posts by Neliza Drew on Criminal Element.


  1. Clare 2e

    That’s hilarious, Neliza! Only in Florida–enjoy your visit and don’t forget to blow some crap up!

  2. Leslie Gilbert Elman

    Great post!

  3. Neliza Drew

    Thanks, you two. It’s rather ridiculous.

Comments are closed.

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