Last Boy Scout Quote
"Nobody likes you. Everyone hates you. You're gonna lose. Smile you fuck."
- Joe Hallenbeck
"Nobody likes you. Everyone hates you. You're gonna lose. Smile you fuck."
"The meek shall inherit sweet fuck-all. That's what I learned from them sadistic little shits, the Jesuits."
Local movie screens are ablaze with the flashy special effects of summertime sizzlers designed to lure in audiences from the heat and fill seats. That's fine. But a movie buff can take only so much carnage in a darkened theater before needing some fresh air and sunshine.
With that in mind, I've worked up a little film-focused sightseeing tour for movie fans who have had their fill of popcorn fare. Focused on the Central Business District and the French Quarter, the tour hits a few sites featured in locally filmed movies or have some connection to the stars.
I've tried to keep it varied -- older films, newer movies, some dramas, action flicks -- to include movie-goers of all ages. (I couldn't begin to list them all, but if you have a favorite site you'd like to see on a future local movie location tour, e-mail me at email@example.com or post a comment here (in this blog entry).
The first part of the tour requires some driving. Starting with the fourth stop you can walk, so wear comfortable shoes and grab a drink.
1. The Louisiana Superdome, 1500 Poydras St. -- What better place to start than the most recognizable landmark in the New Orleans skyline. Not only did it host the world premiere of Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" in 1996, but it also was the setting for a number of movies, including a cameo in the memorable-for-all-the-wrong-reasons 1976 TV movie "The Savage Bees." Take a few spins around the exterior, then continue toward the river on Poydras for a block, and turn right on Loyola. Look on your right for...
2. The Union Passenger Terminal, 1001 Loyola Ave.Â -- Another frequent movie setting, it was where James Bond (Roger Moore) boarded a train with the lovely Solitaire (Jane Seymour) in 1973's "Live and Let Die." More recently, it was used last summer in the as-yet unreleased Chess Records movie "Who Do You Love?," which shot under the working title "Chess." The production converted a series of third-floor offices into a recording studio, a police station and hotel room. From Loyola, hang a left on Howard Avenue, which is right across the street from the Union Passenger Terminal. Continue riverbound until you hit...
3. Lee Circle -- Take a few spins around the old circle, just like the Duke boys did in the 2005 big-screen version of the "Dukes of Hazzard" TV show, starring Johnny Knoxville -- back in town this summer for "Father of Invention" -- and Seann William Scott. New Orleans doubled as Atlanta in the movie, but with the circle being dominated by a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee -- the namesake of the Duke boys' car -- the location was too perfect to resist. Honk your horn a few times and holler out the window before exiting on Andrew Higgins Drive. Turn left on Convention Center Boulevard and park in the Riverwalk mall "whale" parking lot. We walk from here. Head across the street to...
4. The Marriott New Orleans, 859 Convention Center Blvd. -- Stroll into the lobby, and look for Wolfe's in the Warehouse restaurant. This is where the yet-to-be released comic romp "The Pool Boys" shot a scene in the summer of 2007, under the working title "American Summer." Grab a bite if you like, and look around the dining room. If you were here during the shoot, you would have seen a tuxedoed George Takei ("Star Trek") playing maitre d' to Matthew Lillard ("Scooby-Doo," "Scream") and Efren Ramirez ("Napoleon Dynamite"). Hold off on the post-meal coffee -- we'll hit Cafe du Monde later. When you leave the hotel, walk toward Canal Street on Convention Center Boulevard and take a left on Girod Street. Continue seven blocks to St. Charles Avenue, and on the edge of Lafayette Square, look for...
5. The Lafayette Hotel -- When Oscar-winning director Norman Jewison came to town for his 1965 card-playing drama "The Cincinnati Kid," starring Steve McQueen, Edward G. Robinson and Ann-Margret, the hotel was the site of the big showdown between McQueen's title character and Robinson's Lancey Howard, according to author Alan Leonhard in his local film history, "New Orleans Goes to the Movies." Head toward Canal Street on St. Charles, and take a right on Poydras. Keep walking riverbound until you near the intersection with Tchoupitoulas. Look on your right for...
6. The Piazza d'Italia, 377 Poydras St. -- The architecturally striking tribute to the contributions of New Orleans' Italian citizens doubles as a park. It was also featured as a crime scene at the beginning of the 1987 neo-noir film "The Big Easy." In fact, a dead body found at the Piazza is the catalyst that sets into action the central events of the movie, starring Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin. Sit for a spell and enjoy the Piazza's serenity before crossing Poydras and walking one block riverbound, where you can visit the air-conditioned comfort of ...
7. The W New Orleans, 333 Poydras St. -- The lobby bar is a nice spot to have a drink. It's also a good place to people-watch, since young celebrities are fond of the W when they're in town. You can sip your drink in the little out-of-the-way, couch-lined cavern under the lobby stairs. I've interviewed actor Jim Sturgess ("21") and actress Bijou Phillips ("Dark Streets") there on separate occasions. Feeling refreshed? Go out the way you came in and head along Tchoupitoulas toward the Canal Street entrance to...
8. Harrah's New Orleans Casino, 8 Canal St.-- Before you go in, take a gander at the streetcar tracks running in front of the casino. This is the spot where, in 2008, director Renny Harlin orchestrated a streetcar crash for the action film "12 Rounds," which starred wrestling superstar John Cena and hit theaters this spring. Enter the casino. This is where actor Jamie Foxx and his entourage -- including his younger sister Deidra Dixon -- got in a scuffle with New Orleans cops while in town shooting "Ray" in April 2003. Enjoy the cool air but don't annoy security. When you leave, walk riverbound on Canal until you get to .Â¤.Â¤.
9. The Canal Street Ferry -- This is where the victims of the ferry bombing in Denzel Washington's 2006 thriller "Deja Vu" were laid out. Look across the river to the Algiers ferry landing. That's where the aforementioned Cena commandeered a vintage Camaro in "12 Rounds." Just upriver from the ferry -- between the Riverwalk and the Aquarium -- you'll find...
10. Spanish Plaza -- A distinctively tiled plaza between Canal and Poydras streets, where another Denzel Washington movie, 1993's "The Pelican Brief," was shot. The scene featured co-star Julia Roberts, in what is certainly among her most mannish on-screen appearances, with bulky braids, baggy pants, an oversized shirt and a ridiculous fanny pack. Beware mysterious men in red baseball caps. From here, continue downriver to Iberville Street. Take Iberville to Royal. Turn right on Royal Street and continue to...
11. 1018 Royal St. -- Elvis Presley apparently had no clue how to catch crawfish -- "I put a big, long hook on a big, long pole and I pulled Mr. Crawfish out of his hole" -- but that didn't stop him from singing about it in 1958's "King Creole." According to Leonhard's book, the second-floor balcony of this building was where Elvis serenaded a "crawfish girl" in the movie. From here, head riverbound one block, to Chartres Street, and continue to...
12. 800 block of Chartres -- This is the site of the jazz funeral that opened the 1973 James Bond film "Live and Let Die" -- right in front of the colorfully named, but entirely fictional, Fillet of Soul restaurant. Continue down Chartres to...
13. Jackson Square -- Early in last year's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Jason Flyming -- playing Benjamin's father -- dashes through the square as fireworks celebrating the end of World War I light up the skies. I'm not sure if the Square has ever looked more beautiful on screen. Stroll through to where it meets Decatur Street. Cross Decatur, keeping St. Louis Cathedral visible over your shoulder. You are walking in Steve McQueen's footsteps in a scene from "The Cincinnati Kid." As you cross the street, go to...
14. Cafe du Monde, 800 Decatur St. -- Sit. Eat some beignets. Drink some cafe au lait -- just as Dustin Hoffman did in 2003's "Runaway Jury." Blow powdered sugar on somebody. When you're recharged, and after you've cleaned the sugar off your face, walk toward Canal Street on Decatur. Veer left where Decatur splits off into North Peters Street. Continue on North Peters until you arrive at...
15. Canal Place Shopping Centre, Canal and North Peters streets -- Head up to the third floor, and look for the Canal Place Cinema. It's the city's premier art-house theater, and countless celebrities have attended screenings here, most recently director Steven Soderbergh (for "The Girlfriend Experience") and, last year, director Jonathan Demme and actress Anne Hathaway (for "Rachel Getting Married"). Buy a ticket. See a movie. You've earned it.
Movie critic Mike Scott be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504.826.3444. Read him online at www.nola.com/movies/ or follow his Twitter feed at twitter.com/MikeScottTP.
Less than a year after Saints owner and local businessman Tom Benson relocated an Atlanta production company to town and vowed to deliver a feature film project to New Orleans with it, his Horizon Entertainment is weeks from making good on that promise -- and with some big-name help.
Two-time Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey ("American Beauty," "The Usual Suspects," "21") and actor/daredevil Johnny Knoxville (of "Jackass" and the locally shot "Dukes of Hazzard") are among the first cast members to sign on for the indie comedy "Father of Invention."
Pre-production is under way, and cameras will roll for five weeks starting June 29, with a potential release in spring or summer 2010. Trent Cooper ("Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector") will direct, and Horizon will produce with partners Sunrise Films and Spacey's TriggerStreet Productions.
Horizon exec Jason Sciavicco said the movie will be the first in a series of feature films shot in town by Horizon. A plan is in the works, he said -- with an announcement expected within days rather than weeks -- for a partnership between Horizon and London's Future Films that could see three to five features come to town during the next two years.
But first, "Father of Invention." Sciavicco said almost everything his company has done for the past 10 months -- including producing the football-oriented reality series "Two-A-Days" and providing production support services for the big-budget Sylvester Stallone feature "The Expendables" -- has been building up to this.
"Mr. Benson said it, and he kind of set the table for us, to find something and find it quick," Sciavicco said Wednesday afternoon in his office at the Benson-owned Fox 8 studios on South Jefferson Davis Parkway, just a stone's throw from the Superdome.
"We were hoping to make an announcement sooner after we got here, but it's a lot of work," he said. "It's been important to us to find that right project, with the right people attached. ... The films we make, we're going to proud of."
That means you won't see Horizon cranking out low-budget, high-return slasher films or boozy, low-brow teen comedies any time soon. Instead, as with "Father of Invention," its projects will have a more family-friendly vibe.
"I'll bet you I've easily read over 100 scripts. I've easily been in L.A. 20 times, just trying to get with the right people and the right group, and this is a film that we're excited about," Sciavicco said.
"Father of Invention" is described as a fictional character-driven comedy about a successful entrepreneur and TV infomercial pitchman (Spacey) who loses his fortune, his family and his freedom when one of his products maims customers. After a stint in prison, he finds himself forced to reinvent his business -- and his family.
Horizon's 5,000-square-foot soundstage will be home to the production for a couple of days while the faux infomercials are shot, but the majority of the film will be shot on location, around town. And even though the movie isn't expected to play up its New Orleans pedigree -- the story is set in an unnamed town -- Sciavicco said supporting the local film industry is a big part of Horizon's mission.
"The film originally was going to Atlanta," Sciavicco said, "and when we got involved, we made a big statement in saying we are not going to be involved in a film unless it fully shoots and edits in New Orleans. If it can be done in Louisiana, it's got to be done in Louisiana."
He added: "Some of the bigger films, we've had to pass on because they refused to do the edit here, but I think we've proven that we can do the edit here. We've purchased well into the six figures of equipment for 'The Expendables,' and they've been doing their post-production work here while they're in town. That was a big step for us."
Another big step was the decision to shoot during the summer, which coincides with hurricane season. Ever since Hurricane Katrina chased the Kevin Costner film "The Guardian" to Shreveport in 2005, major productions have been reluctant to shoot in New Orleans during storm season because of the potential disruption an evacuation would bring.
Case in point: Two of this year's biggest local productions -- Stallone's "The Expendables" and the Warner Bros.-backed supernatural Western "Jonah Hex," starring Josh Brolin -- have timed their shoots to end within the next couple of weeks, before storm season hits its height.
In addition to getting first pick of local crew base by shooting during the summer -- as director Werner Herzog did without incident last year with his indie cop drama "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" -- Horizon is hoping to send a message that New Orleans is a fine place to shoot, year-round.
"What we wanted to say was, you can do these films in July, you can do them during this time. Is there a little bit of risk? Yes. But they can be done. Katrina's not going to hit every year," Sciavicco said.
Besides, Sciavicco and company are too busy to worry too much about the weather. In addition to "Father of Invention," they're preparing to crank up on an as-yet untitled weekly TV show featuring Saints head coach Sean Payton. That one will bow around the start of football season on Fox 8. They've also got a pilot in the works for foodies, featuring chef Brian Malarky of Bravo's "Top Chef" series, as well as other projects.
"You hear people say this a lot, but I wake up every morning and can't wait to go to work," Sciavicco said. "I love what I do. It's a lot of work, we put in a lot of hours, but, come on, we're in a great city. I love what I'm doing."