More than two years after filming exterior scenes of a new TV series in the Illinois Quad Cities, “The Now” is finally now available to watch on the Roku Channel.
“The Now” is a 14-episode comedy series, directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly. It stars Dave Franco, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Daryl Hannah and Jimmy Tatro. It was originally set to debut in 2020 on Quibi, but it moved to The Roku Channel due to Quibi’s shutdown in December 2020.
In October 2020, it was announced that Quibi would be shutting down all operations, leaving the series’ release in question. On Oct. 29, 2020, it was announced that development of the series would move to The Roku Channel. The series premiered on Roku on Dec. 10, 2021.
“The Now” centers on Ed Poole (Franco), who’s about to take his own life when his mother tells him his brother just died by suicide and his dad did in the past. Ed realizes the only thing that will make his life worth living is to “forget the past, screw the future and just live in the now,” according to a synopsis.
“In our busy everyday lives, we could all use a reminder to live in the present, and ‘The Now’ does just that by examining what exactly makes life worth living,” according to a Roku summary on the series. “Dave Franco leads this darkly funny series as Ed Poole. For Ed, life isn’t going as he planned. However, a tragic event causes him to rethink his outlook, forcing him to go after what he loves, cherish the people closest to him and live in The Now.”
None of the series stars were in the local QC filming, which was done over three days in November 2019, and featured shots in downtown Moline, Rock Island, Schwiebert Riverfront Park, and Port Byron (including a police chase in its downtown with a mock Moline squad car). The crew was based at East Moline’s Hyatt House/Hyatt Place, which was remade as an emergency-room entrance for a morning shoot, hotel general manager Ray Stoddard said in a November 2019 interview.
“That was fun to watch,” he said, noting the production resulted in about 150 room nights for the Hyatt at The Bend, including scouting for area locations before filming.
“I don’t know if it will give the hotel any exposure, but what it did more than anything else, it showed guys tied into that industry, what the Quad-Cities has to offer,” Stoddard said. “There are people here they can hire to do jobs, and there are plenty of different venues they can film at.”
Alex Hess, operating partner of Ram’s Riverhouse, 102 S. Main St., Port Byron, was one of many Q-C residents thrilled to see “The Now” filming here. “It was pretty cool they chose Illinois,” he said of the shooting on Main Street for two and a half hours.
“It’s always exciting to have exposure for the Quad-Cities, and Rock Island in particular,” said Dan Gleason, Rock Island parks special events and fundraising manager. “Schwiebert Park is such a beautiful park — the views of downtown Davenport, the Centennial Bridge, you can’t beat another location like that.”
The park and river footage used drones to film, and the production company was great to work with, he said.
“It’s very positive; great to have activity in the city this way,” Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms said then. “It brings out-of-town people to the city. It’s great to see that somebody’s thinking about us, the Quad-Cities, let alone Rock Island. The city is willing to be very accommodating, not only for this, but for future ones.”
“Bobby Farrelly did scouting; Peter and Bobby have driven across the country several times, and they just happened to like the Quad-Cities,” said Peter Hawley, director of the lllinois Film Office. “They needed something that looks like the Midwest, and they landed on it.”
“What’s interesting here, they didn’t file for the tax credit,” he said, noting any film project that spends at least one day and minimum of $100,000 in Illinois is eligible.
“Clearly, we were going to have over $100,000,” Hawley said. “I’m thrilled about it; I hope it bodes well for more production in the northwest part of the state.”
Film professionals from across North America worked with several Quad-Cities area counterparts in production, including grips, gaffers, hair and makeup, extra casting, production assistants, security and support services totaling over 30 people, said Doug Miller of Davenport, location manager for the series.
“The interiors of ‘The Now’, with its stars, were being shot in Vancouver as we were setting up the exterior shots in the Quad-Cities area,” Miller said. “The interior and exterior scenes are then edited together as if it were all happening here in the Illinois Quad-Cities area.”
Miller said the local cities, Rock Island County and local law enforcement were very supportive and cooperative in the production. He said Thursday he likes how the series looks on TV.
“It’s one more credit to claim as production globally is starting to pick up after the pandemic,” he said of boosting film and TV production in the greater QC region. “The production cycle will crank up next spring so we will see what happens.
“In the meantime, production continues to be slow going in many places. Location production should pick up after the winter. The big thing will be the overall impact for low-budget films like the one in New Mexico,” Miller added, noting “Rust.” “Safety is going to be a big issue and the unions have yet to open talks on low-budget film deals.”
“Green Book” (2018), directed by Peter Farrelly, won the Academy Award for Best Picture, at the 91st Academy Awards, in addition to winning Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali.
In a recent interview, Farrelly said of “The Now”: “I wanted to make a show about living in the present because I personally have lived too much in the future and the past and I think a lot of people do. We worry about the future, and we have regrets about the past, yet we are only ever living in the now. The future and the past are just concepts, but all life takes place in the present. If you want to make changes in your life you have to make them in the now.”
To see a trailer for “The Now,” and to watch for free, visit the Roku website.