Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All signs pointed 'Harold & Kumar' to Shreveport

Producers of 'Harold & Kumar':

A wise reader, Noma Fowler-Sandlin, recently shared a thought about a possible location in Shreveport: "You must 'scout' the great street sign on the corner of Highland and Stoner for them. It's time has finally come. It must be in this movie!"

Smokin' advice, Noma.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Hold onto your hashish: 'Harold & Kumar' are coming!

Originally uploaded by alexandyr1.
The gods must be smiling on Shreveport, because the sequel to “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” is set to film here in January. Actors John Cho and Kal Penn will reprise their roles for the feature film.

“We’re excited. It’s kind of a road picture,” said line producer Lampton Enochs.

En route to Amsterdam to chase romance and obtain smokable substances illegal in the U.S., Harold and Kumar will travel through Texas, Mississippi, Miami, and Guantanamo Bay. The movie will be shot almost entirely in Shreveport.

“It’s a great project. It will definitely show off what Shreveport has to offer,” Enochs said.

I personally can't wait to see the flyers for the extras casting call: "Seeking males and females ages 18 and up to play stoners. Must be punctual." Fat chance.

The Mandate Films production is tentatively titled “Harold & Kumar Go to Amsterdam.” It will begin shooting on Jan. 22.

'Premonition' trailer posted online

Photo by Greg Pearson/The Times.
Extras line up at Creswell Elementary
in February.
Originally uploaded by alexandyr1.

Locals itchin' to get an early look at "Premonition" should log on to the official website. There's a long trailer posted there. The thriller will be released in March 2007.

It stars Sandra Bullock and Julian McMahon. It was shot in Shreveport earlier this year.

In terms of plot, it looks like we have a case of mistaken memory. A wife plagued by visions of her husband's death tries her darnedest to save him from dying. And guess what? Nobody believes her.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Did the movie shoot at your house?

I'm working on a story about where movies and TV projects have shot in Shreveport and Bossier City. I know "The Guardian" took over Commerce Street, for instance, and remade James Burton's club into a coasties' bar called Maggie's Hangar. I know "Road House 2" spilled about 100 barrels of blood in Rockin' Rodeo.

But where else have they shot?

If you have a funny or infuriating story about a production taking over your street, your house or your life, please email me.

Also, if you have run into stars at the oddest places -- Andre Braugher liked to shop at Target -- let me know.

I want to write about it!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's official: Samuel L. Jackson to film in Shreveport

Local McDonald’s eateries better stock up on Royales with Cheese, because Samuel L. Jackson is headed to Shreveport. The “Pulp Fiction” legend will star in “The Cleaner,” a Millennium Films feature that will begin a seven-week shoot in January.

“Louisiana has done a terrific job with their tax incentives,” said Michael Flannigan, an executive producer with Millennium. “Shreveport seemed to make sense because of the other films that have been there, particularly ‘The Guardian.’”

Millennium is currently making “Homeland Security,” a feature starring Antonio Banderas and Meg Ryan, in Shreveport. That project wraps Nov. 10.

The company also will begin shooting “Blonde Ambition,” a feature starring Jessica Simpson and Luke Wilson, during the last week of November.

“It kind of made sense to stay in the same neighborhood,” Flannigan said. He said Shreveport Mayor Keith Hightower flew to Los Angeles to convince Millennium to do business in northwest Louisiana.

“It’s big,” Hightower said about the company’s plans to shoot three features in a row in Shreveport. “The more we get under our belt, the more we are likely to do. They are first-rate, highly respected productions.”

Hightower agreed that Millennium’s commitment bodes well for the film industry in Shreveport. When asked if he was a fan of any of the stars coming, the mayor said, “When they film in Shreveport, I obviously am a fan.”


and just announced ...

Open extras casting call
“Blonde Ambition” starring Jessica Simpson and Luke Wilson.
Needed: humorous extras to play construction workers, German-speaking executives, cab drivers, office executives (esp. African Americans), puppeteers, mimes, jugglers, clowns, midgets and a robust German female barmaid. Must be 18 or older. Senior citizens welcome. These are paid positions.
What to bring: it is recommended that applicants bring a snapshot of themselves, no larger than 4 by 6 inches.
When: noon-7 p.m. Nov. 5.
Where: Louisiana Boardwalk management offices, Bossier City. Doors are located near the escalator on the second floor of the parking garage.
Cost: free.
More info: info@emergecastingla.com or emergecastingla.com.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sienna Miller, Shreveport still loves you

The super-talented Sienna Miller (see "Casanova" and pipe down) has been riding a run of un-super press recently. In a current interview with Rolling Stone, she renames the location of her latest movie: "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh." Oh what, oh what, fair reader, could rhyme with Pitts-burgh?

"How about Fittsburgh, Alexandyr?" Please.

“Blitzburgh?” I’m guessing Sienna’s not a Steelers fan.

"Or Ditzburgh?" She’s wittier than that.

"Let's go with Sittsburgh." Getting warmer. Just add an h and drop the extra t.

Given her scatological affinity for Steeltown – a place where steel-working and flash-dancing once existed in perfect harmony, a place famous for Roberto Clemente and Mean Joe Green, a place with two world-class museums – what did Sienna think of Shreveport?

She filmed “Factory Girl” here last winter. Let’s be glad she didn’t call us Poo-port.

Rolling Stone is soliciting reader comments: Should Sienna apologize?

I want to hear from you, too: Is this celebrity "controversy" completely crap?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

La. pieces falling into place

Photo by Jim Hudelson/The Times.
Not for reuse. Photo taken July 18.
Originally uploaded by
Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. If there's one polysyllabic word you need to know when chatting with industry folks, it’s infrastructure.

If the state is to continue to grow (or simply keep) its TV and film production industry, it will need to offer production facilities, post-production facilities and a free carwash with every oil change.

Shreveport is assembling its bits and pieces. I covered that here. Pictured here is the StageWorks of Louisiana soundstage facility in Shreveport (photo by Jim Hudelson/The Times).

The Advocate just reported on a new post-production facility, Louisiana Media Services. It will enable the makers of "Homeland Security" to edit their film in Louisiana. That’s huge! Click here.

And last week, the Times-Picayune reported on the groundbreaking in New Orleans for LIFT Production's 300,000-square foot movie studio complex. That’s huger. Click here.

The state has attracted $620 million in total production value so far this year. With other states quickly getting into the game of aggressive tax incentives, the only way Louisiana will continue to stay ahead of the curve will be by making it cheaper and easier to make movies here.

All these stories read together suggest that the private sector in Louisiana is hustling to do just that.

(Oh, and “huger” is a word, albeit an awful one.)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Impromptu audition for 'Snakes in His Pants' foiled

As an entertainment guy, I don't get to cover the disorderly-and-disrobed-in-public beat as often as I should. But Adam Kealoha Causey, our cops reporter, does.

Last Tuesday, here's what he discovered near the "Homeland Security" set. None from the movie set claims to have witnessed it. ... Cough it up, moviemakers! We know it's on 35 mm.

Notes from Adam follow:

"Here's why local film buffs should take a minute to listen to police scanners: the police might catch a naked guy bugging a movie crew.

"So I'm about to head out of the office Tuesday night when I hear on the scanner that someone has called the police because a naked guy was strutting through Mojo's and that he had been running through the set of 'Homeland Security,' which was blocked off on Texas Street downtown. I don't know much about this movie, but I do know that Antonio Banderas was not the naked guy.

"Apparently the fellow had stripped because he thought there were snakes in his clothes, according to a Shreveport police officer on the scene and a Mojo's manager. His truck also broke down in the middle of Texas Street. After pushing it out of the way, SPD loaded him into the back of a patrol car -- after putting pants on him.

"Now I know this sounds like a funny take off on 'Snakes on a Plane,' but this poor, sweaty guy did not seem to be right of mind .... I couldn't say for sure what was wrong because I'm no medical doctor. But naked people running are almost always funny under any circumstance.

"Anyhow, look closely when 'Homeland Security' comes out. May there'll be a jump cut showing some member of Shreveport's movie-enthusiast community."

Adam. Wanna switch beats?

An early look at 'Homeland Security,' now filming in Shreveport

I wrote a couple of big movie pieces today for The Times. One was a an overview of how north Louisiana is performing, and another is a cheeky story from a day on the set of "Homeland Security."

Director George Gallo was a great interview, and it was fun to watch Antonio Banderas and Colin Hanks work for a few hours.

Millennium Films graciously provided this early photo, credited to Jon Farmer/Nu Image.

Pictured are Meg Ryan, Selma Blair, Antonio Banderas and Colin Hanks. They are dining at Shreveport's most exclusive (and nonexistent) Albanian restaurant.

Friday, October 20, 2006

'Initiation of Sarah' story on Megan Thoma

Times reporter Jane Bokun filed a cool piece on Megan Thoma today. The TV movie premieres at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 (Sunday) on ABC Family. Here's an excerpt:

"Megan Thoma got more than she bargained for when her 15 minutes of fame came calling.

"The LSUS junior was an extra in an ABC Family original television movie called the 'Initiation of Sarah' which will air on Sunday, when she was called in for a scene with actress Jennifer Tilly.

"'I had a scene where they needed someone to hand Jennifer a dagger – and I did it!' Thoma said. After that, she said, 'whenever anyone needed anything done as an extra in the scenes they called me.'"

For the full story, click here. Thanks for the piece, Jane.

Jessica Simpson, 'Blonde Ambition' to film in Shreveport

Singer and entertainment star Jessica Simpson is coming to Shreveport to film the feature "Blonde Ambition," according to sources with Millennium Films.

The production company is currently making "Homeland Security" with Antonio Banderas in Shreveport.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

'Initiation of Sarah' premieres Oct. 22

"Initiation of Sarah," a TV movie of the week made in Shreveport, premieres at 7 p.m. on Oct. 22 (Sunday) on ABC Family. Did you get a part? Did you work on the movie? Please email me and I'll chat you up a bit.

Pictured here, and holding a dagger, is Shreveporter Megan Thoma. My advice is not to ask for her autograph.

The plot of "Initiation of Sarah" involves the supernatural, sororities, sisters and spats, I take it. I really don't need more reasons to tune in and TiVo. Do you?

Oh, and check out that promo video on the official website. It strings together this catty bit of dialogue. "Personification of evil. ... That isn't her real hair color." Jiminy Crickett!

The movie stars Mika Boorem, Morgan Fairchild and Jennifer Tilly.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mr. Royale with Cheese currently off the menu

If you happened to peek at my blog earlier today (thanks, Mom), or at shreveporttimes.com, you might have read a tasty little morsel from the Associated Press about a big-screen snake killer coming to Shreveport. I had no reason to doubt the facts of the AP story when we posted them.

A few hours later, I was notified by a publicist and an attached production company that these facts apparently weren't true, even though they were reported by the Associated Press on Oct. 14.

For the fear of advancing the wrong information, we immediately withheld the post on this blog and updated the information at shreveporttimes.com. (My boss helped.) That done, I immediately began making calls to reconfirm the AP story.

Now 10:22 p.m., I can't make the story stick. My calls made earlier today to two officials at the production company have not been returned. Attempts to confirm the story through a publicist were unsuccessful. And I was just notified by email that there would be no official comment.

So let's be clear: As of right now, I personally cannot confirm that Samuel L. Jackson is coming to Shreveport to make a movie in early 2007, nor am I confident in assuming he will.

If this information changes, and when I'm done scraping egg off my face, I'll let you know.

And come on, producers. Spill it. My mom is dying to know the truth.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Audition class set for Nov. 4

The HURD Actors Studio is holding an actors' workshop on Nov. 4. Participants will work with Toni Cobb Brock to improve their "on-camera audition" skills.

Brock served as casting director for "Invincible" and the upcoming movies "There Will Be Blood" and "Texas Lullaby."

There will be two sessions for different age groups.

WHAT: On-Camera Audition Workshop with Toni Cobb Brock.
SESSION 1: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 4. Limited to kids ages 7 to 12.
SESSION 2: 3 to 7 p.m. Nov. 4. Limited to adults and teens (ages 13 and older).
WHERE: FX Extreme Hair Studio, 2420 Line Ave., Shreveport.
COST: $100.
TO REGISTER: call Tara Duncil at (318) 573-0039 or email Jamie Baremore at jjbaremore@aol.com.
DEADLINE: Oct. 28.

Friday, October 13, 2006

'Dallas' repopulating. Cast your vote for Jessica Fletcher!

The highly anticipated movie adaptation of "Dallas" appears to be retooling its cast. John Travolta is still set to play J.R. (I love it!), according to Variety (requires registration) , but names like Luke Wilson, Jennifer Lopez and Shirley MacLaine appear out for now. What in tarnation?! I wanted those interviews!

If the story is true, I need readers to post their thoughts on who should play Bobby, Sue Ellen and Miss Ellie. I cast mine for Christian Bale, Keira Knightley and Angela Lansbury. Why? Brits make better banter and look funny in cowboy hats.

Times columnist Teddy Allen offered funnier suggestions in June. Allen chose Schwarzenegger for J.R. but noted the Terminator is starring in a competing project: "Sacramento."

Beginning in May, rumors starting flying about where "Dallas" would shoot. The Dallas Film Commission said the production would split time between two locations. The real Dallas would get it for four weeks, and Shreveport would get it for eight.

I reported on this for The Times in May and June. Locally, there have been no official or significant developments since then. Variety reported that 'Dallas' could begin shooting in January.

Shreveport is still in the running, methinks. I'm trying to break more news on this, but it's like trying to steal a long-horned Cadillac from Southfork.

Thanks, Tim Greening, for the tip on the Variety story.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Big-screen indie film series to begin Nov. 2

The Robinson Film Center plans to spice up local screens with a new series of independent films. The nonprofit film center will bring "Half Nelson" (Ryan Gosling) to the Louisiana Boardwalk's Regal Cinemas in Bossier City on Nov. 2.

The once-only screening of "Half Nelson." will begin at 7:30 p.m. A ticket is $7.50.

What's significant here? "Half Nelson" is currently in arthouse theaters elsewhere. If this series is successful, local cinephiles won't have to drive to Dallas or wait months to see low-profile, Oscar-caliber movies through Netflix.

RFC plans to make the series semi-monthly.

To buy advanced tickets from RFC, call (318) 424-9090. Tickets can also be purchased at the theater on the night of the screening. RFC's Chris Jay advises folks to just show up at theater #8.

To see the trailer for "Half Nelson," click here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Love trash? See 'Gone Tomorrow' at La. Tech

This just in from the Tech news bureau:

"Journalist and filmmaker Heather Rogers will present a lecture on her new book titled 'Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage' Thursday, Oct. 12, at 6:30 p.m. at Louisiana Tech.

"The lecture and the showing of a short documentary film (also called 'Gone Tomorrow') will be held in the auditorium of the Institute for Micromanufacturing. The presentation is part of the School of Architecture Lecture Series.

"In 'Gone Tomorrow,' Rogers takes the reader on what amounts to a tour through the underworld of garbage and brings meaning to the things that society discards.

"'Gone Tomorrow' also explores controversial topics like the politics of recycling and the export of trash to developing countries.

"The book was named an Editor’s Choice by the New York Times Book Review and a nonfiction choice by The (London) Guardian.

"For more information, call the School of Architecture at (318) 257-2816."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Peewee footballers flip for ‘Zorro’

Antonio Banderas took a break from shooting “Homeland Security” in Shreveport on Friday to meet the Bossier Parks Steelers. The unmasked movie star thanked the peewee footballers for cleaning up an empty, rundown house that was later transformed into a secret restaurant for the comedy.

“Antonio Banderas was extremely nice. He got up in the middle of them and shook everybody’s hand and gave them high fives,” said Steelers coach David Szwak. Szwak owns the house.

One kid asked the star if he really did back-flips off of the horse in the “Zorro” movies.

“Well, I can’t really do that anymore. I have somebody do them for me,” Banderas said with a big smile.

Come on, Antonio. You can fib. After all, you were wearing a mask!

As an added bonus, the Steelers were given a guided tour of the set during a lunch break.

“Homeland Security” also stars Meg Ryan, Colin Hanks and Selma Blair.

(Photo courtesy of David Szwak.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Wave-Maker: 7 questions with Maher Ahmad, production designer of 'The Guardian'

Many of the waves in "The Guardian" were created within a 750,000-gallon wave tank in Shreveport. Maher Ahmad, the movie's production designer, played a big role in creating them.

He designed the tank, which measured 80 feet wide, 100 feet long and eight feet deep.

Surrounding half of it was a five-story cyclorama that was painted bright blue. It served as a giant blue screen.

The other half was surrounded by splash guards. They could be removed to get cranes, cameras, crew and actors in and out of the tank.

Dump tanks, or 4000-gallon drums, released water down chutes and onto the actors and vessels.

Three 150-horsepower fans and eight hidden chambers were used to generate waves that measured nine feet or more from the top to the bottom of their swells.

In other words, there was some serious wave-making going on. I sent seven questions to Mr. Ahmad. Below are his answers.

Alexandyr Kent: The Bering Sea is as much a character in the movie as Costner’s Ben Randall and Kutcher’s Jake Fischer, and a huge part of those rescue scenes were filmed in a 750,000-gallon wave tank in Shreveport. How challenging was it to create this “monster of nature,” as director Andrew Davis termed it, within a land-bound industrial park?

Maher Ahmad: The fact that we were using a basically untested approach to the making of waves, and the additional pressures of time and budget, and the fact that we had already started building the tank once in New Orleans and had to start all over again in Shreveport made it very difficult job indeed. It took the coordination of not only my efforts coupled with the our construction coordinator and his crew; the paint dept and its crew; the special effects and stunt departments and their crew; but also the outside work of a variety of engineers (including structural, environmental, soil, mechanical, and electrical engineers). And on top of that, we had to deal with a scarcity of labor, materials, equipment, and supplies that was due to reconstruction efforts going on in New Orleans.

AK: As the production designer for “The Guardian,” how did you balance the audience's desire for thrills with the story's demand for drama? Was there ever a point at which you feared the sea would overpower the storyline?

MA: Those kinds of decisions are really more the province of the writing, directing, and editing than any decisions that I make. I gave them the sets and the environment; the director and writers decide what to shoot and with the director the editor decides what specifically the audience sees.

AK: Technically, what was this wave tank capable of creating? How big were those waves during the rescue sequences? When we watch the film with rolling water and the blowing wind, it looks like the actors are in trouble.

MA: Because the tank was pneumatic rather than mechanical, we had great control over the kinds and the power of the waves we could make. We actually never had the power up full during any of the scenes. We got six-foot swells and troughs but we probably were capable of making them much, much bigger.

AK: What effect in the film is your favorite, and how did it add to the tension of the scene?

MA: For me, my attitude to the work I do on my films is that of a good parent: I love them all, although some my be different than others, some may be more successful or attract more attention than others, they are all pretty wonderful, and I love them equally.

AK: Tell me a bit about the scene when the rescue swimmers (Kutcher and Costner) save the kayakers in the cave. You installed a cave in the wave tank. How big was it? What did you do to make the environment and the water inside the cave look so authentic and threatening?

MA: The cave was a 150,000-pound set that was built from steel, rebar, foam, and plastic next to the set and then moved by two 150 ton cranes and dropped into the tank. It had to withstand a terrible beating form the force of the waves. It was about 40 feet high, and 80 feet wide and about 60 feet long. It was open three feet at the bottom which caused the waves to bash against it in a realistic manner.

AK: You have rolled a passenger jet over for “U.S. Marshals” and sunk a pirate ship for “Miss Congeniality 2.” Was creating the effects for “The Guardian” just another day at the office, or was the challenge especially demanding?

MA: Every aspect of every film has its own particular demands and problems. "The Guardian" was by far the biggest water picture effort that I have done and the previous films that I did that had water work were a good preparation for what we all managed to pull off in Shreveport.

AK: Lastly, was there ever a point when Costner, Kutcher, the actors and the stunt doubles said, “Maher, enough with the crashing waves already. I can’t take it anymore!” Did you really beat them up as much as it appears in “The Guardian?”

MA: Again, I was not directly responsible for how long the actors spent in the water, or what they were required to do while in it. It is the director and the stunt coordinator that subject them minute by minute to the rigors of the tank. However, it is indeed the fact that the actors were heroic in how hard they worked, and how little complaint they made, under extremely difficult circumstances.

The wave tank is now owned by Ken Atchity and a group of investors. The facility is now called the Louisiana Wave Studio. I'll talk with Mr. Atchity about the future of the facility soon.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Former Shreveporter's 'Burning Man' documentary to be screened

Originally uploaded by alexandyr1.

In 2002, Michael Wilson and a film crew set out to chronicle a year in the life of the Burning Man festival, a weeklong arts festival that sprouts up on a Nevada desert landscape during the week before Labor Day.

They wound up with "Burning Man: Beyond Black Rock," a documentary that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the artists, organizers and festivalgoers who make it one of the most mysterious and enduring art gatherings.

Art is exhibited by hundreds and experienced by more than 30,000, but nothing but ice and coffee is sold. If art has ever existed for art's sake, it's at the Black Rock Desert.

Wilson, a former Shreveporter who now lives in Austin, Texas, will screen "Burning Man: Beyond Black Rock" on Saturday at Centenary College."You know, it's just the coolest thing on the planet," Wilson said. "It's an unbelievable meeting of some of the most creative people that I've even run across."

He will answer questions after the screening.

Click here for a story I wrote on this documentary in August.

"Burning Man: Beyond Black Rock," presented by the Centenary Film Society, Robinson Film Center and Columbia Cafe.
WHEN: 4 p.m. Oct 7. A Q&A with Michael Wilson will follow the screening.
WHERE: Kilpatrick Auditorium, 2911 Centenary Blvd., Shreveport.
ADMISSION: free. Call the film center for more details at (318) 424-9090.
RELATED LINK: http://www.burningmanmovie.com/.

‘Flags of Our Fathers’ to get New Orleans premiere

FlagsofOurFathers still
Originally uploaded by

If you’re lucky enough to be a University of New Orleans student, you can nab a ticket to the regional premiere of “Flags of Our Fathers.”

The National WWII Museum will screen the new movie, a story of Iwo Jima directed by Clint Eastwood, on Oct. 15. Tickets are limited to current UNO history and film majors. The museum is working to honor its commitment to educating younger generations about the war.

Guests of honor will include two of the films stars: Ryan Phillippe and Jesse Bradford. They will attend the invitation-only reception at the museum from 4 to 6 p.m. The screening will begin at 7 p.m. at the AMC Elmwood Palace 20 theaters in Harahan. The public can’t get tickets, but they can stand along the red carpet.

UNO students need to get students by clicking here.

“Flags of Our Fathers” premieres nationwide on Oct. 20.

(Pictured is a still from "Flags of Our Fathers.")

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

'Guardian' takes more, 'King's Men' director ponders miss

Box office receipts for 'The Guardian' were revised upward on Tuesday. Instead of $17.6 million, it took in more than $18 million on opening weekend. Experts probably underestimated the dollars dropped in northwest Louisiana!

Kutcher's other movie, "Open Season," also took in a bit more than expected. It finished with $23.6 million.

In a Los Angeles Times article, Steve Zaillian, director and screenwriter of "All the King's Men," seemed surprised by his movie's box office and critical failings. The reportedly $55 million movie, which was shot in Louisiana, recouped only $6.2 million during its first 10 days of release. It has already fallen out of the U.S. box office's top ten.

In the article, Zaillian said: "We're all a bit shellshocked. I feel like Huey Long must have felt — you try to do good and they shoot you for it."

The director also talked about his screen adaptation: "It's a great book to read for the first time. It's so beautifully written. That's the thing you worry about with great books. The poetry in them is part of their power, and in film you have to transfer a lot of those words and energy. A lot of great books don't translate that well."

The Los Angeles Times article is worth the click.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Learn about TurnKey, state infrastructure on Tuesday

Anybody wanting to know about TurnKey Louisiana, a Shreveport-based vendor of film equipment and services, should attend the following meeting on Tuesday. The company's co-founder, Gary M. Strangis, is pictured here.

Below is a note from John Grindley, executive director of the Robinson Film Center:

"Gary Strangis, co-founder and owner of TurnKey Louisiana, will speak at the Shreveport/Bossier Louisiana Produces meeting on Oct.3 at BPCC (Building D), 7 p.m. TurnKey is a new company, based in Shreveport, that will facilitate production in Louisiana by providing state-of-the-art equipment and special services to the filmmaking community. TKLA offers an 'in-state spend,' helping to maximize the tax incentive and grow the infrastructure needed in Louisiana.

"Strangis recently moved from Los Angeles to Shreveport. He and his L.A. based partner, Bernie Laramie ('CSI,' 'Profiler'), provide a consortium of Hollywood vendors that bring workflow solutions from pre-production to post and delivery. Strangis is an Emmy winning Producer for 'The Practice' and has worked on 'Ally McBeal,' 'Summerland,' and 'Faith of My Fathers' to name a few.

"I hope you can join us! I apologize for the short notice. Come out and show your support because he’s really invested in building the infrastructure for the film industry that we desperately need."

'Homeland Security' begins shoot in Shreveport

Stars are aligning in Shreveport again. “Homeland Security,” an action and comedy feature starring Antonio Banderas, Meg Ryan, Selma Blair and Colin Hanks, begins its six-week shoot today.

Directed by George Gallo, the movie involves a federal agent (Hanks) who is assigned to spy on his mother (Ryan) and her boyfriend (Banderas). Both are suspected art thieves.

(Photo: AP Photo/Victoria Arocho.)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

‘Guardian’ receipts and reviews are in. But what do you think?

Originally uploaded by alexandyr1.

Early estimates from Box Office Mojo put “The Guardian” in second this weekend, taking in a slightly lower than expected $17.667 million. “Open Season,” an animated feature with voice work by Kutcher, should take first with $23 million.

It’s a respectable opening for “The Guardian,” and it should keep Louisiana in the Hollywood spotlight for longer than the star-studded “All the King’s Men.” The latter opened Sept. 22 and will likely end up with a gross of just $6.287 million after two disappointing weekends.

While box office receipts quantify demand, they rarely measure quality.

Do the critics’ reviews of “The Guardian,” including mine, match your taste? Most major critics—I’m not in this group—were mixed in their feelings.

Chris Kaltenbach of The Baltimore Sun loves the action-drama. He writes, “The Guardian is that rarest of cinematic commodities: an action movie displaying brains and heart and the opportunity for its stars to do something more than keep the narrative flowing between explosions.”

A.O. Scott’s take in The New York Times represents most of the middle-of-the-road reviews. The film is passable, but Scott has seen way too many like it. He cuts to the heart of Costner’s Ben Randall by writing, “Mr. Costner is comfortable in this kind of role, perhaps too comfortable. The profane, leathery, sad-sack qualities of the character — his unorthodox teaching methods, his fondness for whiskey, his gruff manner — amount to a nearly transparent veneer smeared over his essential saintliness.”

Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post pans the movie. He criticizes the clichéd bits of dramatic characterization that fail to round out the heroes, Randall and Fischer (Kutcher). “The movie begins to overload its frail reed of a structure with giant sloppages of cliches from other movies, some so bad it's almost comical. Costner's wife (Sela Ward) has left him and he misses her, so we get a few scenes of the drunken, embittered guy on the phone, begging her to pick up over voice mail. Then Kutcher picks up a gal at a bar (Melissa Sagemiller) and begins one of those aren't-we-quiptastic flirtations that seem to happen only in movies.”

Do you agree with any of these critics, or did they (including me) collectively miss the boat? Check out most of the majors here, and please post your comments below.