WITH MOVIE STARS
Copyright 2002 The Ottawa Sun
[ February 22nd 2002 ]
Bob Thornton, decked in a flamboyant get-up, fronting
his band at a local club, waiting for his wife
Angelina Jolie to get back in town from Salt Lake
City; George Clooney making the rounds of the
finest restaurants; Julia Roberts feeling right
at home; Nicole Kidman shopping up a storm; Drew
Barrymore blending with the local in-crowd; Matt
Damon and Brad Pitt checking out the night life.
Hey, is Montreal a hip place or what?
true. All or most of the above Hollywood deities,
and a goodly number of other lesser luminaries,
are in Montreal as of this writing. They're in
town shooting some of the dozens of films the
city will welcome from the U.S. and elsewhere
this year, as well as scores of Quebecois productions.
Toronto gets five minutes of bad Canuck jokes
on the Simpsons and thrills at Sideshow Mel Lastman's
plans for a blockbuster movie complex down by
the lake, Montreal is already well-established
as the preferred shooting location in Canada for
Hollywood producers. And it's obvious actors love
the place too.
who've seen Robert DeNiro in The Score, where
he plays a classy thief who owns a jazz club in
old Montreal, can't help but notice how comfortable
he seems in the cool, cosmopolitan ambiance of
a city but an hour by plane from New York. Thornton,
for example, ever the eccentric, has actually
been seeking out local media to let the townsfolk
know he appreciates their hospitality. The feeling
is mutual, of course, with Montreal appreciating
Thornton, his wife and, perhaps to a lesser extent,
by the way, is directing and starring in the movie
version of game show host Chuck Barris' book,
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Roberts, Barrymore,
Pitt and Damon are in the cast. Billy Bob is shooting
the drama Levity in the company of Morgan Freeman,
Holly Hunter and Kirsten Dunst. Kidman, Anthony
Hopkins, Ed Harris and Gary Sinise are doing the
movie of Phillip Roth's novel, The Human Stain,
directed by Robert Benton. Are we missing anyone?
that Montreal is crawling with movie stars and
crew is actually indicative of a growing problem.
The city has reached the point where its production
facilities are saturated and pricey movie productions
are being turned away. Oddly enough, a defunct
Korean car plant may provide the solution to Montreal's
movie glut. Where Hyundai failed, Hollywood may
some skeptics may say they'll believe it when
they see it, the vast Hyundai plant in Bromont,
less than an hour, traffic depending, south-east
of Montreal, may soon become North America's largest
movie production facility. The plant has been
idle since 1994 and ever since has been the subject
of numerous schemes to find a new vocation.
of Studios Bromont, Jocelyn Parenteau and Thomas
Rioux, said last week work will begin in earnest
to prepare the 1.2 million square foot building,
which sits on a 420-acre lot, for its first production.
The refurbishing will cost an estimated $ 24 million,
which is addition to the $ 20 million paid for
the massive building itself.
has an answer for doubters. He says a study conducted
by Arthur Anderson consultants -- insert Enron-induced
snicker here - concludes Studios Bromont investors
are "sitting on a gold mine." Those investors,
naturally, include Investment Quebec, an agency
of the Quebec government which would dearly love
to see the gigantic Korean white elephant transformed
into a movie studio, generating jobs, economic
spin-off, and of course gratitude to the ruling
party come election time.
and night life of Bromont or Granby or Cowansville,
may not be up to the standards to which Hollywood
stars have become accustomed, but then again merveilleux
Montreal is only a brisk limo or chopper ride