City itching for football movie on scabs

This Just In...

June 04, 1999|By Dan Rodricks

THIS JUST IN: Warner Bros. has scouted Ravens Stadium -- excuse me, PSINet Stadium -- as a possible site for scenes for a Keanu Reeves film about the scab players who were hired to replace the Washington Redskins -- excuse me, the NFL team with the offensive name -- during the 1987 players strike. "The Replacements" -- the film, not the rock band -- is to be directed by Howard Deutch ("Grumpier Old Men") and is scheduled for summer production.

Apparently, Los Angeles also is in the running for location shots, but the prospect of Hollywood bringing a film to Baltimore again was enough to set off a buzz among local production crews; they're hungry for work in post-"Homicide" Baltimore and hopeful this movie lands in Maryland.

Michael Styer, head of the Maryland Film Office, wouldn't comment about "The Replacements" but said: "I am confident that there will be plenty of work around here for our crews this summer and fall."

WB scouts have visited Ravens Stadium within the past two weeks and were impressed with its production-friendly facilities. They're apparently interested in filming scenes during the Ravens exhibition season in August. If that happens, it'll make for interesting crowd dynamics -- Baltimore football fans asked to cheer, on cue, for football player-actors dressed in burgundy and gold.

Reeves, coming off "The Matrix," a box office success for Warner Bros., would play the leader of a motley crew of scab football players who led the Washington franchise to a winning streak during the 24-day strike in '87. (I hear Gene Hackman is supposed to play the team owner, fashioned after the late Jack Kent Cooke.)

Later this year, Reeves is due to star as master sniper Bobby Lee Swaggert in a Paramount film based on "Point of Impact," a thrilling 1993 novel by former Sun film critic Stephen Hunter. That film, produced by Mark Johnson and his Baltimore Films partner, Barry Levinson, is called "The Shooter," and Variety reported recently that with it Reeves would score his first $15 million payday.

Naughty development

Lorraine Whittlesey, composer in residence at the American Visionary Art Museum whose commissioned work has been performed at the Meyerhoff and Carnegie Hall, has a new reason to smile: One of her pieces has been picked up by the hip-hop group Naughty By Nature. It's featured in a cut on the trio's latest album, "19NaughtyNine: Nature's Fury," which is burning up Billboard's R&B charts.... Next gig for Baltimore's wonderful jazz vocalist Ethel Ennis: Downtown Bonn, birthplace of Beethoven. She'll sing in the German city this month. Her concert is one of several parting gestures by the U.S. Embassy, which will move to Berlin this summer. Germany is expected to complete the move of its government from Bonn to the new capital by next year.

Dusting off Nugent

For more than 20 years, reporter, author and teacher Tom Nugent guided hundreds of young Baltimore writers toward careers in print. He was a disciple of the New Journalism and wrote some terrific features for The Sun in the 1970s and 1980s. Along the way, Nugent, who taught at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and who now lives up in Michigan, penned scores of short stories cloaked in doubt, pain, yearning and hope. They were all set in the Crabtown of his fevered imagination.

But Nugent's work is largely unsung. To remedy this, his friends are banding together to publish a book of his life and his fiction. All proceeds from the project, which will culminate this fall in a reading and publication party, will benefit Mother Seton Academy in Fells Point. Anyone interested in helping should call my Sun colleague, Rafael "Hometown Boy" Alvarez, at 410-327-5254.

Schmoke on his rocker

Kurt Schmoke's appearance at the Greater Baltimore Committee's annual meeting was his last as mayor, so the GBC gave him a gift for his 12 years of service in Sleepy Hollow -- a rocking chair for the children's reading corner at the Pratt. The plaque attached to the chair was Seussian, inspired by "Green Eggs and Ham," one of the mayor's favorite children's books: "You do so like green eggs and ham! Thank you, thank you, Schmoke I Am!"

Painful reminder

The Orioles play the Phillies this weekend. Great. Another reminder that it's been 16 years since the Birds were in the World Series. I could barely hear Michael Bradley yesterday afternoon when he answered the phone at Video Americain's new location, 4321-23 Harford Road, Lauraville. Work is a couple of weeks behind schedule. Our favorite video store's third location -- the others are in Roland Park and Charles Village -- will be its biggest, says Bradley, partner with Barry Solan and David Ostheimer. You're talkin' 2,000 square feet, not Blockbuster size but big by Video Americain standards. Here's looking at you, kids.

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