Monday, January 27, 2020

Visiting the Set of 'Hey Dude' in Tucson, Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz. — If you were in kid in the late 80's you may recognize the theme song from Nickelodeon's Hey Dude.


The show premiered on Nickelodeon more than thirty years ago -- and it was all shot in the Old Pueblo.

KGUN9 recently visited the old set of the Bar None Ranch with a member of the production crew. It's located in a secluded, private area of the Tanque Verde Ranch.

"People come to the ranch specifically because they watched Hey Dude growing up," said Terry Hanley, the general manager.

The set certainly has seen better days. The roof has collapsed on some of the buildings and the awnings have caved in. At this point Hanley says it can be a safety hazard.


For David Valdez a walk around the dilapidated set truly is a trip down memory lane. He was part of the production crew. It was his job to help the directors run the show like a well-oiled machine.

"I love the industry so much," Valdez said. "I really did look forward to waking up in the morning and going. As first assistant director, part of your responsibilities is really just organizing the crew for the scenes that are being shot."

Valdez sure has a lot of fun memories from back in the day. He shared photos with KGUN9 from the set and even a blooper reel he put together.


Some of the actors went off to become big stars and writers and it certainly wasn't the first famous show in town.

"During that time period there was quite a bit of production in Tucson," Valdez said. "Film production I should say because of Old Tucson."

Decades later Mother Nature has run it's course on the Hey Dude location. Hanley said it was built for Hollywood and not built to last.

Even after a quick visit, it's easy to see why the views got cameras rolling.


"This is a pretty spectacular part of Arizona and it shows well -- so it truly depicts what ranching is all about," Hanley said.

Years after the last take, Valdez hopes Hey Dude will remind filmmakers of the potential you can find in the Sonoran desert.

"When you come to Tucson to shoot, or in Southern Arizona, you're coming for the landscape," he said. "There's no other place like Tucson and it's surroundings in the world."


Hey Dude was a comedy Western that followed a group of teens working on an Arizona ranch called the Bar None Dude Ranch. From the catchy theme song to the denim-on-denim outfits, the series tackled some important issues while still managing to be funny.


Hey Dude ran on Nickelodeon for five seasons between 1989-1991, totaling 65 30-minute episodes over three years. Hey Dude starred David Brisbin as Mr. Benjamin Ernst, Sr., ranch owner, Kelly Brown as Bradley "Brad" Taylor, a riding instructor from a rich Grosse Pointe, Michigan family, Debra Kalman as Lucy, a ranch hand, David Lascher (Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, Two of a Kind) as Ted McGriff, a senior staff member, Christine Taylor as Melody Hanson, a lifeguard and dance instructor from Allentown, Pennsylvania, Joe Torres as Danny Lightfoot, a Hopi Native American who was cast after auditioning in Tucson for the role, Geoffrey Coy as Kyle Chandler, Lucy's ex-boyfriend's son, Jonathan Galkin as Jake Decker, Mr. Ernst's nephew from Los Angeles, and Josh Tygiel as Benjamin "Buddy" Ernst, Jr., Mr. Ernst's son. Tygiel was one of 120 Tucson-area boys who auditioned for the series. "Hey Dude" was videotaped on location at the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch near Tucson, Arizona. The show was produced by CineTel Films. Casting began in 1988 with local auditions held in Tucson. While most of the show was technically shot on the property of the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch, the familiar "ranch" that was known to television viewers was actually built from scratch, roughly a mile away from the main public areas. This was done so ranch guests would not be bothered by the production and to create buildings with a more "western" look, which was not offered by the relatively modern and luxurious Tanque Verde. The main lodge, boys/girls bunks, guest lodge (which doubled as cast dressing rooms) and the stable were all built specifically for the production. After the show wrapped physical production, the buildings were abandoned, with several still standing to this day.

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