Originally created 04/21/00

Savannah misses out on filming



SAVANNAH -- You can stop looking for Jodie Foster now.

Savannah will have no role in the film adaptation of The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, which is being made by Ms. Foster's production company and will feature the star in the role of a one-legged nun. Instead, the movie will be made primarily in Wilmington, N.C., with Charleston probably substituting for Savannah during outdoor scenes.

"They wanted to film about three weeks in Savannah to get exteriors, but they could not get the exact location they wanted," director Jay Self told the Savannah Film Commission during a meeting Tuesday.

"I think they're pretty much tied to Charleston (for exterior location shooting)," he added. "They have not signed all the deals in Charleston, but I think that's the direction they're heading."

Mr. Self did not name the location the filmmakers wanted to use in Savannah, saying only that the property owners "were not comfortable with the script."

Altar Boys is based on Chris Fuhrman's autobiographical novel about growing up Catholic in Savannah. Mr. Fuhrman died in 1991.

Ms. Foster's company, Egg Productions, bought rights to the book in 1997. A team of filmmakers visited Savannah that year, but the project did not move forward until Ms. Foster recently expressed interest in playing the supporting role of Sister Ascension.

Savannah might have landed the entire project, Mr. Self said, if the city had a sound stage facility -- a project that has long been a commission priority and still appears to be years away.

The National Guard Armory, on Eisenhower Drive, remains the most favored site. And in an update Tuesday, commission member Edwin J. Feiler Jr. said the site could be available if the National Guard's hopes of building a new facility at Hunter Army Airfield are realized.

But negotiations among all those concerned -- from the Army and the National Guard to federal and state governments to the Savannah Economic Development Authority and the commission itself -- will take time.

"It's moving; it's glacial," Mr. Feiler said. "But from all I can understand, everybody seems to be pulling in the same direction and recognizing that this would be a terrific thing for Savannah to accomplish."

In other movie news, Savannah is in early running for another feature film.

Locations manager Michael Leon, who previously worked on Forces of Nature in Savannah, is visiting the city for a new project called Flamingo Rising.

Among the sites Mr. Leon will be looking for: undeveloped beachfront property where filmmakers can build a sail-in movie theater for shrimp boats.