Keep eye for Clooney in Guilford

August 19, 2004|By Chris Kaltenbach

It looks as if the local chapter of the George Clooney fan club will be meeting next week in Guilford, the posh North Baltimore neighborhood.

Scenes for Syriana, a spy thriller set against the backdrop of the gulf war and the continuing unrest in the Middle East, will be shot in Baltimore during much of the coming month. Among the first locations will be a home in Guilford.

Homeowner Douglas Becker, chairman and CEO of Laureate Education Inc. (formerly Sylvan Learning Systems), would not comment on the filming. But an e-mail sent to neighborhood residents this week says film crews will arrive Aug. 26 in Guilford and remain for about a week.

According to the e-mail, Becker plans to donate the $15,000 he'll be receiving for use of his home to Sherwood Gardens.

Howard Friedel, president of the Guilford Association, said he hadn't seen the e-mail, but is not concerned that the production, with its attendant cast, crew and equipment, will unduly stress one of the city's wealthiest neighborhoods.

"Not at all, it happens every year or two," said Friedel, noting episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street were sometimes filmed in Guilford, and that a PBS crew from Boston came down earlier this year to film Sherwood Gardens. "It's never disruptive."

Anne Hopkins, a past president of the association, said she had read the e-mail and welcomes the film crew's visit - especially if it helps subsidize the gardens, a neighborhood showpiece that has achieved national fame.

As for the idea that movie stars will be walking the streets near her home, "that's not my world, so I can't say whether I'm interested one way or the other," she said. "But I am happy for those who are."

Syriana, based on Robert Baer's book See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism, is being directed by Steven Gaghan and is slated for a 2005 release. In addition to Clooney, who is supposed to be filming in Baltimore this week, the movie also stars Matt Damon, Greta Scacchi and Amanda Peet, who are not.

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