Monday, July 12, 2004

MOVIES: U.N. Allows Kidman-Penn Film Access; U.S. Government Not Necessarily Movie-Crew Friendly; What About Craig T. Nelson?

Monday's Financial Times featured an interesting article looking into the intricacies of filming at United Nations headquarters in New York. The U.N., like the Capitol, for years has had a strict no-filming policy for motion-picture studios. (In the 1950s, U.N. officials denied an Alfred Hitchcock request to film "North By Northwest" on site, the FT reports.)

But the Nicole Kidman-Sean Penn thriller, "The Interpreter" was granted special permission to film at the United Nation's First Avenue headquarters, but only on the weekends. The FT reports that the weekend-only policy has created some challenges for the crew, including switching back country name placards in the General Assembly before the end of the weekend. (Wouldn't it be, afterall, confusing for the representatives from Malawi or Zambia to find out they had a new neighbor, Matobo, the fictional African state in the movie. Remember San Monique in "Live and Let Die"?)

But would something like this ever be allowed in Washington? Don't count on it. The United Nations needs money. The U.S. government has access to plenty. Which is why, perhaps, certain government institutions, like Congress, forbid the use of their facilities for for-profit non-news filming purposes.

Roll Call has had a few interesting articles the past year or so about different attempts to film at the Capitol, including a failed attempt by Discovery Communications to do a documentary featuring the construction of the Capitol Visitor Center as an engineering marvel. George Clooney and HBO's now-defunct pseudo docudrama "K Street" ran into some trouble back in 2003 when film crews were caught filming in Senate office buildings, Roll Call reported at the time.

But the District has been the scene of many other movies, at least off the grounds of federal property off-limits to film crews. has, to the Oculus' knowledge, the most complete listings of locations used for movie filming in the capital city. (Who knew that the Benito Juarez statue near the Watergate was in "Being There." Or that the Hall of States, the home of C-SPAN and Fox News, was used for the filming of the 1978 Sylvester Stallone movie F.I.S.T and 1993's "The Point of No Return.")

And who could forget about great prime-time television moments filmed in the capital city? What about last summer when CBS's "The District" (apparently a show starring Craig T. Nelson about the District of Columbia police department that nobody in the District has seemed to have heard of) transformed the rustic F Street patio of Kellys' Irish Times into a fashionable sidewalk cafe?


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