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Moraga Goes Hollywood


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If you tune in to the History Channel this month, keep an eye out for the Mediterranean architecture of the Saint Mary’s College campus. The Moraga school is doubling for Renaissance Italy in the series Man, Moment, Machine.

Producers of the series, which profiles iconic technology inventors, chose Saint Mary’s College of California as one of the backdrops for episodes on Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo. “We chose Saint Mary’s because of its classic and timeless interiors,” says da Vinci coordinating producer Rick Heeger. “We used the chapel, the brothers’ chapel, the two courtyards, and a classroom.

Saint Mary’s romantic landscape wasn’t the only factor that won producers’ favor. Reenactment producer Chris Bauer graduated from the college in 1988 and knew it was an excellent fit. “We certainly knew the terrain, and we knew that it was beautiful,” he says. As it turned out, Bauer’s alum status gained him the unexpected assistance of longtime Saint Mary’s professor Brother Raphael Patton, whom Bauer hadn’t seen in 10 years. Patton had an authentic-looking cardinal costume on hand, a souvenir from a past school play, and the producer put it to good use.

“We had [Patton] play a cardinal in the Inquisition scene,” Bauer says. “He’s next to Pope Urban passing judgment on Galileo.” Along with the local professor’s face, you may also recognize the bell tower and the statue of Saint Isabel, Queen of Portugal, which is shown when a young da Vinci is painting during the second act. What other East Bay footage can we claim? “Anything green or flowery—that’s Saint Mary’s,” Bauer says.

Da Vinci and the Handgun airs at 10 p.m. on December 5; Galileo and the Sinful Spyglass airs on December 19; http://www.history.com   

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