A trio of actresses with four Best Actress Oscars among them -- Jodie Foster, Holly Hunter and Anne Bancroft -- will make Baltimore their temporary home next month during the filming of "Home for the Holidays," a romantic comedy.
Ms. Foster will co-produce and direct the movie, in which Ms. Hunter and Ms. Bancroft play a daughter and her mother coming to terms during a hectic Thanksgiving celebration.
Over the past two weeks, Ms. Foster and a film production team have been in Baltimore scouting locations, auditioning for smaller cast parts and interviewing for production employees.
Shooting is scheduled for three weeks beginning in mid-February. Although they are still negotiating with organizations, potential shooting locations include the Baltimore Museum of Art and Baltimore-Washington International Airport, said co-producer Peggy Rajski yesterday.
"We want to use all the wonderful locations you have here in Baltimore," she said, noting the city offers "a wonderful mix of architectural styles" that complement "the look we had in mind for the film."
Ms. Foster, who won acting Oscars for "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991) and "The Accused" (1988), will not appear in the picture. This will be the second film she's directed -- the first being "Little Man Tate" in 1991.
A press conference to announce more details about the movie will be held next week by the Maryland Film Commission, Producer's Club and other organizations.
Ms. Rajski said the commission's pursuit of production work, which included a reception for Ms. Foster aboard the sailing ambassador Pride of Baltimore II in Los Angeles last fall, 'N "certainly played a role" in the decision to produce in Baltimore.
In addition to Ms. Hunter and Ms. Bancroft -- who won Academy Awards, respectively, for "The Piano" (1994) and "The Miracle Worker" (1962) -- the movie's ensemble cast will include Robert Downey Jr., Charles Durning, Claire Danes, Dylan McDermott, Cynthia Stevenson and Steve Guttenberg, according to Stuart Kleinman, president of Egg Pictures, Ms. Foster's production company.
In the film, Ms. Hunter will play an art restorer at a Chicago museum who, having "the worst day of her life," comes home to her eccentric family in Baltimore for Thanksgiving dinner, said Mr. Kleinman. The screenplay is by W.D. Richter, who also wrote "Nickelodeon" and "Brubaker."
Ms. Bancroft will play her mother, Mr. Durning her father, and Mr. Downey and Ms. Stevenson her siblings. Ms. Danes, the teen fTC actress who won a Golden Globe Award on Saturday as Best Actress in a Television Drama for "My So-Called Life," will play Ms. Hunter's daughter. Mr. Guttenberg is to play a brother-in-law, and Mr. McDermott a friend of her brother -- and a potential love interest.
A publicity synopsis decribes the film as "a fast-paced, witty romantic comedy" that offers "an irreverent and poignant look at a universal human experience" -- that being an adult child coming home for family rituals.
The film's Baltimore connection surfaced late last month when the BMA confirmed it had entered into talks with Ms. Foster about using the museum.
If a location agreement is reached, however, the film will depict the museum as the Art Institute of Chicago, where Ms. Hunter's character works, said Mr. Kleinman.
Ms. Rajski, who produced "Little Man Tate," said the film's mix of characters is reflected in the city of Baltimore. Additionally, she said some undisclosed local homes probably will also be used for location shooting.
Ms. Foster and her team last week held interviews and auditions in the production offices of the TV series "Homicide," located in the old fire house at the foot of Recreation Pier in Fells Point. Ms. Rajski said "a few" local people were cast in small parts.
The actress/director was spotted at least once in The Daily Grind, a coffee house across Thames Street from the "Homicide" location.
Ms. Rajski said "a synchronicity of timing" brought the Pride of Baltimore to Los Angeles just as "Home for the Holidays" planners were seeking a location for the film. She noted that Boston was originally envisioned as the setting by the Massachusetts-based screenwriter.
State officials, including then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer, visited Hollywood in September in hopes of attracting productions to Maryland. They staged a $16,000 reception aboard the visiting sailing vessel, which was attended by Ms. Foster and many other film figures.
The film commission has said at least four film projects are considering using Maryland locations this year.