The South Los Angeles neighborhood of Baldwin Hills is known for many things, including midcentury-modern homes, a huge public park, a scenic overlook and working oil wells.
In among the oil wells, which are scattered across a series of hills and ravines, connected by unpaved roads, is a patch of open ground upon which the crew of FOX’s comedy-drama “The Finder” has constructed the outdoor set for the Ends of the Earth Bar (the interior is located on the 20th Century Fox lot in West Los Angeles).
It’s supposed to be somewhere in the Florida Keys, so along with a boat and various other props, there’s a lot of potted vegetation tucked here and there. In addition, on this particular sunny day on set, there’s a horse.
There is also 100 percent more Stults fun than usual, and that starts with series star Geoff Stults dropping his pants in front of everyone in order to be wired for sound. He also has to ride the horse behind co-star Mercedes Masohn (grabbing something other than the saddle on occasion to steady himself).
On Friday, May 11, “The Finder” airs its series finale. But it goes out with a burst of brotherly love, with an episode that features a guest appearance by George Stults, Geoff’s older sibling.
In the episode, music professor Langston Sherman (George) shows up at lawyer/barkeep Leo’s (Michael Clarke Duncan) establishment to hire brother Walter (Geoff) — who has a near-mystical ability to find just about anything — at the behest of their father, Franklin (John Ashton), who is dying of emphysema.
Franklin’s last wish is to see ex-wife Elaine (Annette O’Toole), who vanished years before after she and her new husband joined a cult. While Franklin now wants to use Walter’s unique abilities, which were enhanced after he suffered a head injury in Iraq, he once tried to have his son committed because of the other changes in his personality the incident caused.
“Walter, before he got blown up,” says executive producer Hart Hanson, sitting at a picnic table during a break in filming, “was humorless, serious, focused, not fun at all. Now this is the Walter that his dad misses and didn’t get along at all with his mom.
“We thought it would be fun to have Walter find out that his brother, at least, likes this version of him better than he likes the first version, which he liked just fine.”
This isn’t the first time the brothers have worked together. They spent several seasons playing brothers Ben (Geoff) and Kevin (George) Kinkirk on The WB’s hit series “7th Heaven.” But while Geoff has worked steadily since then, George — who tucked away most of his “7th Heaven” money — has devoted his time to what he calls “recreational activities” more than work.
Anyone who knows the easygoing, fun-loving George would have a hard time imagining him as a music professor, and that includes the man himself.
“He teaches drums to a bunch of tulip growers in wooden shoes,” Geoff tells Zap2it. “That’s the line. He’s teaching traditional American music to a bunch of tulip growers that wear wooden shoes, right?”
“He’s absolutely right,” says George. “That’s the line. I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ Obviously Hart and the writers have never met me before.’ “
“Hart, when he was writing this,” says Geoff, “texted me. He said, ‘Does your brother play any kind of instrument?’ I said, ‘He and I both were in the band. He played the trumpet; I played the sax. We both got kicked out. That’s a true story.’ “
“When they introduce my character,” says George, “it says, ‘Walter’s brother, Langston Sherman, slightly older than Walter, Langston is a professional musician and composer, sweet-natured, direct, an extremely decent guy.’ “
“There you go,” says Geoff.
“Does that not describe me?” says George.
“Not really at all,” says Geoff.
“I’m sweet-natured,” says George, “I’m just not a musician. I don’t have any artistic ability in my body.”
As to what the biggest challenge of reviving the brother act has been, Geoff says, “For him, it’s been waking up. And yeah, not cracking up. I can say, it was a little weird for him in the beginning.
“Any guest star, it doesn’t matter that he’s my brother, and we’ve done this before; it’s like you’re playing an away game and hanging out in somebody else’s house — it takes a while to get set up.”
“But these guys are such a good group,” says George. “Honestly, after the first scene, it felt like I had been on the show forever.”
For Hanson, putting Stults with Stults was a no-brainer.
“What are you going to do?” he says. “You’ve got an actor whose brother is an actor – come on. He obviously loves his brother.”