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The Hollywood lie

November 10, 2002

Your Calendar article on the long-awaited movie version of "Chicago" (Nov. 3) mentioned that the shoot took place in Toronto, rather than Chicago -- or at the very least another U.S. city -- and that disturbed me. As someone who works in the U.S. film industry, I've grown weary of the U.S.-based film and television producers and executives' endless pursuit of across-the-border "incentives" (a.k.a. corporate welfare) to make American stories on foreign soil, leaving U.S. workers (and many actors) behind while those at the top reap the profits.

In this atmosphere of corporate malfeasance run amok, of post-9/11 pro-U.S. fervor and of job downsizing, I have to ask: Are the makers of "Chicago" so blinded by the klieg lights that they don't see the big city they're shooting in is a facade, partially financed by the taxpayers of another country? I don't think so.

And what's with Renee Zellweger? A few weeks ago you published a story about the Civil War drama "Cold Mountain" -- in which she co-stars -- that was shot (mostly) in Romania. It would be different if she making "Carpathian Mountain" and "Toronto," but those titles don't have any clout, do they? Neither do we, the U.S. film workers strangled by the bottom line.

Where is Ms. Zellweger's integrity? Isn't she rich enough to pass on such projects, or at least demand that they be shot in the U.S., even if it required -- God forbid -- a salary cut? How about spreading your wealth to those working under you, Renee?

The same goes for your co-stars, producers and directors, and the numerous other rich celebrities who have made movies in Canada and elsewhere when the story clearly didn't require it.

While we still have breath, my colleagues and I will make every effort to let the American public know what a sham these productions are.

J.P. Hays

Santa Monica

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