April 18th, 2022 by Ron Olsen SDSA

Main Photo
Actor Pete Holmes, playing main character Tom Smallwood, had to learn to bowl for the part. The lanes and gutters and ball returns were all real, which allowed for actual bowling, including the sound of the ball rolling down the lanes. Photo by Cliff Lipson ©2021 CBS. All Rights Reserved.

Set Decorator Ron Olsen SDSA

Production Designer Bernard Vyzga


Set Decorator Ron Olsen SDSA has done it again! He and Production Designer Bernard Vyzga paired up, as they often have as a go-to team for setting the look of a show, this time to launch a new sitcom for CBS, HOW WE ROLL. His set dec career jump-started with the hit series ROSEANNE, followed by an Emmy nomination for a new version of THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW, took off with the now iconic sets of FRASIER, and a multitude of shows since, each a fresh look. 
We asked him to give us a quick BTS peek, and, ever-gracious, he’s given us a few notes on the sets, including some of his resources.
Karen Burg

Photo 3
Archie’s Lanes Bowling... “The set looks huge on camera. We managed to squeeze in six practical lanes with ball returns and four dummy lanes to extend the depth. Upstage, camera right, is a shootable Cafe/Snack Bar, which also adds to the depth.”

From Set Decorator Ron Olsen SDSA...
“When I first got the script for HOW WE ROLL, I was thrilled to see it wasn’t set in a typical, upper middle-class house in a yuppie neighborhood, but in a blue-collar house in Michigan.  Not only that, but one of the basic sets was a slightly tired bowling alley that has been around for years. The show is based on the real-life story of Tom Smallwood, a Michigan auto factory worker who loses his job and decides to pursue his life dream of becoming a professional bowler.”

“I was also delighted to work again with Production Designer Bernie Vyzga and Art Director Rich Rohrer, with whom I had recently done two installments of Norman Lear’s LIVE IN FRONT OF A STUDIO AUDIENCE. They were faced with the daunting task of squeezing an entire bowling alley...lanes and all...onto a soundstage, yet leaving room for the main house, the mother’s living room, a beauty salon (where Tom’s wife works), and a driveway (to shoot a scene in a truck onstage).”
“The bowling alley looks huge on camera, and director Mark Cendrowski kept wanting to shoot wider and wider, so we kept adding more foreground lanes, gutters and ball returns. I’ve always loved bowling alleys and their lovable levels of kitsch. It was fun bringing life into the set including working ball returns, ball racks, neon signs, a shoe rental counter and a cafe/snack bar."

Photo 4
“Another angle of the bowling alley, this reveals the main entrance at center. Striped wallpaper was printed by Astek Wallcovering. Neon signs are from Heaven-or-Las Vegas and RC Vintage, with additional practical lighting from RC Vintage. Lanes, ball returns and seating are from US Bowling. We bought the lockers online and painted them to tie into the set colors.”

Photo 5
Archie’s Lanes Cafe/Snack Bar... “Many scenes are shot here over beer and Archie’s famous curly fries. Seating, signage, lighting and concession equipment are from RC Vintage. Booths are from Omega Cinema Props, tables from Air Designs.”

“In bowling you get two chances. 
No matter what you do with the first ball, you get another one to make it right...
the ultimate second chance.” 

*All set stills are by Rich Rohrer.

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Tom and Jen’s Living Room... “Small, comfortably furnished, two-story house in Saginaw, Michigan area. Couch was slipcovered by Warner Bros. Upholstery. Matchstick blinds on the sun porch windows are from AMCO American Screen and Window Coverings. Most of the rest is purchased, a lot of it online due to COVID, except for a few character pieces from Props Services West.”

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“Tom in his recliner as Jen greats two of her hairdressing clients. Jen has some flair and is not afraid of colors and patterns. Later in the season, she sets up a home salon, which was also fun to work on.” Pete Holmes as Tom, Kerrice Ayanna Brooks as Hannah, McKale Jude Bingham as Lee, and Katie Lowes as Jen. Photo by Cliff Lipson ©2021 CBS. All Rights Reserved.

Photo 8
“Another angle of the living room with upstage stairs, a den upstage into which Tom’s mother will later move, and the kitchen, camera right. The art is by Hollywood Studio Gallery, Getty Images, Dina Art. Framing by Hollywood Studio Gallery. Bowling trophies by Hollywood Trophy.”

Photo 9
“Their modest but cheerful kitchen. Chairs are from PSW, as is the vintage pantry cabinet upstage. I found the table and chest of drawers at the CBS warehouse, and even better, the table has a leaf which can accommodate large family dinners...and does! Kid art was provided by my Leadman Palmer Schallon’s niece.”

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Kitchen reverse shot... “View to the camera right, with backdoor upstage. We set up a little mudroom with a place to hang coats and take off boots when coming in from those long Michigan winters. Vintage ceramic Jell-O molds from PSW adorn the walls. To the right of the backdoor is a horseshoe Tom touches for good luck as he leaves.” Note: It’s turned up to catch & hold good luck!

Photo 11
Tom’s Mother’s Living Room... “The house Tom grew up in. She’s a no-frills kind of gal and hasn’t updated in many years. She keeps bear spray on hand. The drapes which I found online, have bears and pine trees throughout them.” Inset: Pete Holmes as Tom, Julie White as his mother Helen. Photo by Michael Yarish ©2021 CBS. All Rights Reserved.