"America's Most Wanted" spent all night Monday reenacting the March 18 robbery of 13 works estimated to be worth more than $200 million. The segment should last about 4 1/2 minutes and will be one of three cases on the show tentativelyscheduled for May 13 (Ch. 25, 8 p.m.).
The museum, which initially balked at the TV show's request to recreate the robbery, finally agreed to do so at the urging of the FBI, which is investigating the case.
"The FBI asked that the Gardner Museum cooperate with 'America's Most Wanted' in filming a segment for their program in the hopes that it would result in the recovery of the stolen artworks," museum director Anne Hawley said in a statement.
Paul Cavanagh, special agent with the Boston office of the FBI, said the bureau feels any publicity can only be positive. He said the museum was reluctant at first, but finally agreed to let the film crew come in.
"We said by all means, try to cooperate," he said. "It was hard for them, but they did. I don't think they would have done so without our suggestion. Ultimately, they want their pieces back."
It's a sure bet, he said, that the TV show will generate phone calls and maybe even new leads in the case.
John Kavanaugh, segment producer, said his crew worked from 4 p.m. Monday until about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday reenacting the crime and was back yesterday afternoon to take some outside shots of the building.
Local actors John Garrich of Charlestown, R.I., and Gerry Bova of West Roxbury played the guards, and John Fiore of Winchester and Mark Rogers of Newton portrayed the thieves dressed as policemen who appeared at the door on Palace Road.
The thieves were then shown accosting the guards, taking them to the basement and handcuffing them. As for any more detail on how the thieves went about their heist, Kavanaugh was close to the vest and only said, "Our reporters did their research and I think we re-created it accurately."
Kavanaugh said the meshing of a TV crew and a museum wasn't easy at first, although the Gardner staff did provide slides of the stolen art, which the crew enlarged.
"We have concerns, so do they; there's really no reason for filmmakers and an art gallery to meet," he said, adding that the museum initially had half a dozen security people on hand but sent three home halfway through the shooting. "There's a certain amount of trust you have to build up."
Kavanaugh said that, of the 30 segments he has produced for "America's Most Wanted," the cases have ranged from kidnapping to murder and only once before concerned an art robbery.
But he didn't mind that this assignment took him out of back alleys and into an art museum.
"From a cinematic point of view, this is a wonderful place to shoot," he said, looking up at the building in the Fenway.
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