Steve Mensing, Editor
♦”Sleepy Hollow will not be coming to Salisbury. It came as no shock to many familiar with the North Carolina film industry that Salisbury got passed over by 20th Century Fox for Wilmington, NC. No shame in getting beat out by Wilmington–in recent years that city by the sea has become the epicenter of North Carolina’s film industry. Wilmington logistically and location wise is frequently a first choice for film productions in our state. Wilmington has much going for it. EUE Screen Gems Studios is here and so is the Wilmington Regional Film Commission. EUE Screen Gems Studio is the largest domestic television and movie production facility outside of California. The city is cooperative and provides a cornucopia of varied locations. It is truly an alive and historic city with much to offer. People summer there and the battleship U.S.S. North Carolina is parked stoically in Wilmington’s harbor. What more could 20th Century Fox desire when shooting a supernatural thriller based on Washington Irving’s classic “Ichabod Crane”?
Perhaps some are saddened by Salisbury’s rejection as a locale–it gave locals momentary excitement and pride and took their minds off the ongoing economic stagnation here. Yet the last visit by “Sleepy Hollow” left some very unhappy residents in its wake. The short-lived pilot led to a number of downtown restaurants and businesses losing thousands of dollars in profits when their streets were shut down. Some Salisbury businesses and restaurant owners held out hope the city could cut a worthwhile deal for them if “Sleepy Hollow” returned, but those hopes apparently won’t bare fruit. Salisbury can remember its brief fling with the celluloid world and the thrill of rubbing elbows with TV actors and directors. Cut.
Back when Sleepy Hollow pilot was first being shot I headed down Council Street, near Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, and saw cables and lighting systems being set up. Activity everywhere. It briefly reminded me of being back in Philly some years ago when “Rocky” was being filmed in the Italian Market. Saw Sylvester Stallone strolling with his posse and bantering with venders and young women. The sidewalks were crowded with people hoping to catch a glimpse. A decade later “Marky” Mark Wahlberg sat on my stone front steps on 10th Street in South Philly reviewing a script for the movie “Invincible”. We chatted a bit before I stepped inside. Some years before that over in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square area I blended in with the extras in an Eddie Murphy flick called “Trading Places”. I took position in a small cluster of bystanders while Eddie was filmed entering the Curtis Institute of Music. The Curtis interior had been turned into the set of an exclusive men’s club. My scene wound up on the cutting room floor. However my buddy Louie Cuevas, the Barclay doorman, can be seen in the background in one scene handing out valet parking tickets under the hotel’s canopy. If you watch the scene closely, where Eddie propels himself along the sidewalk with knuckle gloves on a carpet dolly in Rittenhouse Square, you can catch Louie in the background–way in the background. Kind of like Salisbury’s experience with “Sleepy Hollow”.
When the “Sleepy Hollow” trucks and vans pulled into the Wrenn Parking lot the first day I was gabbing with someone in front of the library on Fisher St. Midway through the conversation we noted the infamous catering truck roll into the lot. It was pretty sizeable and reminded me of catering trucks I saw near Philly film locations. Those catering trucks reduced production costs.
“So much for Salisbury’s restaurants,” I said.
“All the production crews and actors are union. They get fed gratis. It’s part of their contract.”
“How do you know that?”
“I’ve lived across from a film set in Philly and was told production caterers always set buffets out for the cast and crew. It’s cheaper than providing an eating allowance and the cast and crew doesn’t go far, so nobody’s late when they start shooting.”
Listen I hope nobody takes this loss too hard. Getting rejected is a fact of life everyone accepts sooner or later. It happens to the best of us and even small cities. Don’t give up the ghost of filmdom. Later this summer a film crew is going to be a shooting a full length documentary in downtown Salisbury. It’s conceivable it could put Salisbury on the map. No this is a serious documentary. The working title is “Stranglehold”.