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Will Beantown soon become the next Tinseltown ?

Will Beantown soon become the next Tinseltown ?

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Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you're my home

-- the Standells, “Dirty Water”

I’m heading back to my old stomping grounds this coming weekend. The state of Massachusetts, to be specific. Where – on Sunday, March 8th  Greg White Comics will be setting up shop at the Boston Comic Book & Toy Collector's Spectacular at the Radisson.

And while it will be nice to meet once more with my fellow collectors and maybe move a little product … To be honest, what I’m most looking forward to is the chance to slip away from my booth and then get out & explore the city. Once again experience some authentic Boston.

Okay. I know. Beantown pops up in a lot of movies & TV shows these days. “Boston Legal” …

Boston Legal
Copyright 2004 ABC. All Rights Reserved

… and “Fever Pitch” …

Fever Pitch
Copyright 2005 20th Century Fox. All Rights Reserved

… are two productions that immediately come to mind. But this wasn’t always the case.

You see, Boston hasn’t always been known as a film friendly town. And – no – that wasn’t because of that notorious  New England weather. Back in the day, the unions that worked in this city were infamous for shaking down production crews that came into Boston so that they could shoot on location. I remember the stories that crew members who worked on “The Brink's Job” …

The Brinks Job
Copyright 1978 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved

… used to tell. How William Friedkin had persuaded Universal Studios to let him fly out to the East Coast and shoot a comedy caper version of the biggest heist in Boston history right in &  around the places where the Brinks robbery actually happen. Only to then find – that once they got on the ground -- that the criminals weren’t in front of the camera. But – rather – right on the periphery of “The Brinks Job” set. Where city regulatory offices would repeatedly slap the production with fines for shooting too late and/or making too much noise, while local officials would continually come around with their hands out, looking to collect fees for shooting permits.

This is why a lot of studios in the late 1970s / early 1980s – including Walt Disney Productions – rather than actually come into the city to shoot any scenes that were supposed to be shot in Boston would then just find another location elsewhere that could double for Beantown. I remember the stories associated with “Splash” …


Copyright 1984 Touchstone Pictures. All Rights Reserved

… how Ron Howard & Co. were given carte blanche to shoot scenes at dozens of locations in and around Manhattan for this Tom Hanks / Darryl Hannah romantic fantasy. But when it came time to film those parts of this script that were supposedly set on Cape Cod (i.e. this was where Allen & Madison first met as children. More importantly, where they’d then rekindle their romance some 20 years later), Disney wouldn’t okay the additional funds necessary to shoot on location in Massachusetts. Which is why these scenes were then shot in the Bahamas, where most of “Splash” ’s underwater sequences were shot.

Mind you, Massachusetts eventually got the message and then worked extremely hard to try & turn around its reputation of being an expensive place to shoot a motion picture. State officials began wooing the studios out west big-time. More importantly, offering tax breaks. And eventually companies like Disney did start coming around.

Which is why the Mouse shot a number of movies in & around Boston in the 1990s, most notably “Celtic Pride” …

Celtics Pride
Copyright 1996 Hollywood Pictures. All Rights Reserved

… and “A Civil Action .”

A Civil Action
Copyright 1998 Touchstone Pictures. All Rights Reserved

But over the past three years, Disney seems to have become really enamored with Beantown. “The Game Plan” was shot all over the city back in 2007.

The Game Plan
Copyright 2007 Walt Disney Pictures. All Rights Reserved

While just last summer, two Mouse House productions did extensive filming in Boston. Touchstone Pictures’ upcoming romantic comedy, “The Proposal” …

The Proposal
Copyright 2009 Touchstone Pictures. All Rights Reserved

… which stars Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, as well as Bruce Willis’ new sci-fi thriller, “Surrogates” …

Surrogates Teaser
Copyright 2009 Touchstone Pictures. All Rights Reserved

… which will be based on Robert Venditti’s graphic novel.

And given that former Disney Studios head David Kirkpatrick is planning on now building a state-of-the-art film production facility out among the scrub pines & the sand dunes that can be found in Plymouth, MA  … I can’t imagine that this will be the last time that Mickey will ever be make a movie in Massachusetts.

Which means that – once I get back home to Kissimmee and find myself, while I’m processing orders for Greg White Comics, missing Boston yet again – that I no longer have to settle for the faux version of the city that I find in “Johnny Tremain .”

Johnny Tremain
Copyright 1957 Walt Disney Productions. All Rights Reserved

That someday soon there’ll be lots of made-in-Massachusetts movies speeding through Plymouth’s production pipeline. Which will then give those of us who genuinely miss the Charles River and its used-to-be “Dirty Water” a little taste of home.

Anyway … If you happen to be in the City this Sunday and can come by the Boston Comic Book & Toy Collector's Spectacular at the Radisson, be sure and drop by my booth. I’d be happy to talk with Disneyana fans about those Mouse House movies that featured scenes that were set in Beantown, like the original version of  “The Parent Trap” …

The Parent Trap
Copyright 1961 Walt Disney Productions. All Rights Reserved

… and “The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin.”

Bullwhip Griffin
Copyright 1967 Walt Disney Productions. All Rights Reserved

… but were actually shot on the Burbank lot.

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