Washington Under Attack? No, It's Just a TV Show

A big blast on the Potomac River could have some thinking terrorism.

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By Nikki Schwab, Washington Whispers

A big blast on the Potomac River might look a tad like terrorism, which is why Washington businesses and schools located nearby were warned today via E-mail about a simulated explosion to take place Wednesday morning while film crews are in town for the pilot of an FBI television drama, Washington Field. The E-mail from the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments said: "The explosion will produce a 20 to 30' fireball that will last for approximately 2 minutes."

Well, not so fast, we learn. The D.C. Film Office, which has been hit with a lot of inquiring calls about the big boom, paints a more realistic picture. A source there tells Whispers that the fireball will last seconds, not minutes, and will not be as big as the E-mail we received from the council of governments described. The WMCOG's public affairs director, Jeanne Sadler, who originally sent out the E-mail, agrees. "There will be a very small contained special effects display that will take place on the river at a safe distance from Key Bridge," she tells Whispers, trying to clear up the misunderstanding. "The special effects display will last two seconds, not two minutes." Part of the reason for the mix-up? Sadler explains the display will look like a big blast on TV—just not on the Potomac. "In reality, there is no explosion and nothing is blowing up," she says.

Here's the original warning:

A simulated explosion scheduled for Wednesday, March 25.

Please alert those in your school and your school communities that the explosion is simulated.

Subject: Notice on TV filming event

For the filming of a TV pilot, there will be a simulated explosion on Wednesday, March 25 between 9:30 a.m. and noon near Key Bridge in the District. The explosion will produce a 20 to 30' fireball that will last for approximately 2 minutes.

Please pass along this information to others appropriate. The Department of Homeland Security and D.C. Police and Fire departments have been notified, along with the Washington Airports Authority. The Virginia State Patrol and Arlington Police Department will be contacted. If you have additional questions, contact Kathy Hollinger or Burt Warner with the DC Film Office at 202-727-6608.

The explosion will take place on the Potomac River just north of the Key Bridge and Jack's Boathouse (K / Water Street, NW under the Whitehurst Freeway). In the scene to be filmed, there will be six (6) sculling boats on the Potomac River and one of them blows up.

CBS Paramount television is filming a pilot titled "Washington Field." This is a new television series about the elite Washington field office of the FBI and a team of agents with exceptional and diverse skills who are called together for only the most critical cases.

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