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TV Movie About NYC's Giuliani to Be Shot in ... Montreal

USA Network's 'Rudy!' will be filmed primarily in Canada, where production is cheaper.

October 28, 2002|James Bates | Times Staff Writer

The Big Apple becomes La Grande Pomme next month when a TV movie about former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his handling of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks starts shooting -- in Montreal.

Although some outdoor scenes will be filmed in New York, the decision to shoot the USA Network movie "Rudy!" primarily in Canada marks another symbolic setback in stemming the migration of films and TV programs to cheaper foreign locales, even when story lines are distinctly American.

"As with all productions set in New York, we make every effort to encourage them to shoot on location in the city," New York City Film Commissioner Katherine Oliver said. "There is no viable substitute, and our crews are second to none."

Last year, the TV series "Pasadena," set in Hollywood's backyard, was instead shot in Vancouver, Canada. The film version of the best-selling Civil War novel "Cold Mountain" is shooting in Romania. Hollywood unions say these and other productions crystallize the ongoing threat of runaway production to foreign countries, even with filming here now running at a healthy pace.

"Once again, this is a perfect example of what the unions have been trying to explain to legislators across the country," said Pamm Fair, a national director for the Screen Actors Guild. "A story about an American icon is being filmed outside of the borders. American viewers may never know the difference, but American workers will."

The two-hour film is based on the unflattering "Rudy! An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Giuliani" by Village Voice writer Wayne Barrett that was published in 2000. The movie, to be shown on USA's cable network, will intersperse scenes showing Giuliani's political rise with others showing him leading the city after the terrorist attacks, which won him international praise and earned him Time magazine's prestigious Person of the Year honor. James Woods will star as Giuliani, with Penelope Ann Miller cast as Donna Hanover, his ex-wife.

Neither USA Network nor "Rudy!" producer Carlton America would comment.

Canada has increasingly lured American productions with the help of the U.S. dollar's strong purchasing power and the Canadian government's financial incentives. French-speaking Montreal played host to such major films as Tom Clancy's "The Sum of All Fears" and the upcoming movies "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," "Timeline" and "Human Stain."

In a report issued last month, the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. warned that although the Southern California film industry has bounced back after threatened strikes by actors and writers in 2001, "there is still the serious issue of runaway production." What's more, it added, "Canada is not the only culprit. The Czech Republic is a hot spot, while China and Mexico are both making a push to obtain more production." Australia and New Zealand also are making major inroads in enticing U.S. projects.

Studies have estimated that more than $3 billion in direct film and TV production leaves the U.S. annually, primarily to Canada, with the overall effect estimated at $10 billion when that loss ripples through the economy.

Ironically, Giuliani as mayor frequently championed shooting films and TV shows in New York in lieu of places such as Canada. His efforts included making it easier to get film permits, working with unions to trim costs and lobbying to end a state tax on purchases made by production companies.

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