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Philly Heat

July 1, 1995

Lee Tergesen played Ivan Loki in this unsold pilot for ABC.

"Philly Heat" was filmed in 1993-94, and it had been conceived as a one-hour drama series to begin airing in the 1994 fall season. However, the show proved to be too costly to develop.

That's because "Philly Heat" -- written and produced by Tom Fontana -- depended on real footage to drive the story.

According to an item at AllYourTV.com, this is how it worked: 

Filmmakers rode along with Philadelphia's real Engine 50 and onboard a second mock Engine 50, manned by actors and firefighter-actors from International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22. ... The footage was processed and printed, then given to the writing staff, which developed dialogue, script and stories around the real incidents. In the fall, dialogue was filmed on a sound stage that was built in a warehouse along the Delaware River.

The same report says "Philly Heat" aired as a three-part miniseries during the summer of 1994. But I've only found evidence that the one-hour pilot ever aired, and not until July 1, 1995. 

Lee appears briefly in a scene in the middle of the show. At a pub frequented by firefighters, he taunts John Falletta, a heroic-but-troubled firefighter recently suspended for disobeying orders. "I can't believe the city's best fireman got bounced from the city's best company," Loki says to Falletta (Adam Trese). 

Falletta's snappy comeback: "You should trim your nose hairs." (Lee/Loki is sporting a rather droopy moustache.) More testy words are exchanged, and Loki stalks away to rejoin his friends. 

The heated exchange prompts Kevin Gaffney (Tate Donovan) -- Falletta's best friend and fellow firefighter -- to warn: "Loki's a pinhead. You know you should stay away from him."

Falletta's very Oz-like reply: "He's my bitch."

A few minutes later, Falletta walks over to Loki and starts a fight. He's dragged away, the scene ends, and that's the last we see of Lee in "Philly Heat."

Some notable guest appearances: Julianna Margulies, who played nurse Carol Hathaway on "ER," plays ... a nurse! Pat McNamara plays the owner of the pub where the Loki/Falletta brawl takes place. He also plays the owner of the pub in "The Beat." (Avoiding type-casting, he's Dr. Prestopnick in "Oz.") 

The main cast members included Peter Boyle, Ving Rhames, Tate Donovan, Adam Trese and Mary Mara (another Fontana regular, like Lee).

Click here for an ABC press release promoting and providing more details about the show.

Episode Gallery

Before the fight

Related Links

IMDb credits

All Your TV page
for Philly Heat

Television, Films and Firefighting reviews

ABC press release
for Philly Heat