Zellweger film to shoot in Baltimore

April 11, 2008|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,Sun reporter

My One and Only, a romantic comedy starring Renee Zellweger and loosely based on the memoirs of actor George Hamilton, will begin shooting in Baltimore next month, state officials said yesterday.

"We're happy to have this project come in, particularly since they'll be filming the entire movie here," said Hannah Lee Byron, the state's assistant secretary for tourism, film and the arts.

Set on the East Coast in the 1950s, My One and Only will star Zellweger as Ann Deveraux, a glamorous divorcee hitting the road in search of a wealthy husband. It will be directed by Richard Loncraine (Wimbledon, Firewall). The production company is still scouting locations for the shoot, Byron said.

Maryland film officials have been looking to bring a project to the state since HBO's The Wire wrapped last summer. Although a steady stream of projects over the past several years - including feature films like Ladder 49 and Rocket Science - had provided steady employment for local technicians and other film-related craftspeople, the lack of work in the past several months has caused concern that those workers might have to find jobs elsewhere.

"It's very important that we keep the stream of shows coming in, to keep [the local crew base] working." Byron said. "We did want to get those people employed."

She said the movie is expected to provide jobs for about 180 local technicians and other crew, as well as 750 actors and extras. The shoot is expected to last for about eight weeks.

State officials were able to lure My One and Only here partly thanks to $4 million in economic incentives approved by the General Assembly for the fiscal year ending July 1. The incentive program, begun in 2004, offers a partial rebate of locally paid wages.

Other projects that benefited from the fund were Step Up 2 the Streets, which filmed in Baltimore last summer, and Bumper, a thriller shot last year in Baltimore County.

Another $4 million in incentives was approved for the coming fiscal year, which should help in attracting more projects. But Byron, a former head of the Baltimore film office, said more money is needed if the state is going to continue attracting major film production.

"This allows us to barely tread water," Byron said. "We are coming off a very difficult legislative session, in terms of the budget, and we're working very hard to look at other funding mechanisms."

Location shooting can contribute as much as $200,000 a day to a local economy, according to figures from the Motion Picture Association of America. Live Free or Die Hard, which filmed several key scenes in Baltimore over a 10-day period in September 2006, pumped an estimated $2.6 million into the state coffers.

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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