TV series takes former Xerox site

The local headquarters for the ABC television series “Lost,” which was picked up by the network last month for their fall schedule, will not be hard to find. Industry officials have confirmed that the show will base its local operations in the former Xerox building on Nimitz Highway. The building has remained vacant since Xerox moved out in the aftermath of the state’s worst ever mass murder, in which seven people were killed in November 1999.  DISCUSS

The deal to use the site was first reported last week by Honolulu Star-Bulletin television and film columnist Tim Ryan.

From a business perspective, the return of the site to active use was inevitable. The 32,600-square-foot building at 1200 N. Nimitz Hwy. represented one of Honolulu’s five largest blocks of vacant commercial space, with an excellent location and amenities including truck delivery bays.

The surrounding area has also seen strong growth, with national retailer Best Buy announcing plans to open a store one block east, near bustling retail powerhouses Home Depot and Costco Wholesale.

But few have forgotten the events of Nov. 2, 1999, when former Xerox employee Bryan Uyesugi gunned down seven of his coworkers in their offices. After his insanity claim was rejected, Uyesugi faced a first-degree murder charge, seven counts of second-degree murder and one count of attempted second-degree murder. The jury in his case, which was allowed to visit the crime scene, deliberated for less than two hours before returning a guilty verdict in June 2000.

At the request of employees, Xerox vacated the building and moved its offices to a building in Kakaako. The old location, the red Xerox logo long ago removed, had stood empty for years. Only last week did work begin in earnest to prepare the building for its next tenants, although the “For Lease” sign from Steven Narioshi Realty is still in front of the building. This afternoon, a large portion of the plain, white, windowless facade was removed by workers with Western Engineering, Ltd.

Details of the new lease were not disclosed, however, and an ABC spokesperson declined to comment.

With four television series slated to film in Honolulu this summer, space was certainly hard to find. The Star-Bulletin reported that “Lost” had considered sharing warehouse space in Salt Lake (at the former CostCo site) with NBC’s police drama, “Hawaii.” NBC had dibs on the state’s Hawaii Film Studio, but was pressed into giving it up to Fox for its show, “North Shore.” The WB series “Rocky Point” is also hunting for space.

It was against this backdrop that the former Xerox location was secured for “Lost,” an “action-packed adventure” involving the survivors of a plane crash who end up castaways on a Pacific island. Scheduled to air Wednesday nights this fall, the show was created by J.J. Abrams, who is also behind “Alias” and “Felicity.”

Meanwhile, the 1999 shootings still echo in some quarters today. Two weeks ago, a judge ruled that the families of Uyesugi’s victims can sue his medical provider, as his psychiatrist allegedly lost track of him six years prior to the shootings. Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Hifo said a lawsuit could proceed because Kaiser psychiatrist Marvin Mathews, who testified at Uyesugi’s trial, said he considered Uyesugi one of his patients at the time.

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