Movie draws spectators to film site, bars, restaurants, hotels

Friday, January 13, 2006

The crew let onlookers get close and at times stopped to take their own pictures.

The spectacle of watching a movie in production has area residents slipping out of work and taking their children out of school to stand outside for hours.

Others staked out restaurants, bars and hotels for a glimpse of their favorites from the cast of "Killshot."

And for one lucky seventh-grader, the experience includes a lifelong memory and inspiration for a possible career.

Johnny Knoxville, who plays a sleazy U.S. marshal helping stars Diane Lane and Thomas Jane survive the witness protection program, is Anna Mae Zembsch's favorite actor. When her mother retrieved her from Central Junior High School for an hour Monday to watch filming in downtown Cape Girardeau, she didn't believe it at first.

Later that day, when her father took her back to the set in an attempt to get a glimpse of Knoxville, he responded when she called out to him.

"We were waiting for him to come out of the trailer, and when we saw him we started screaming really loud and yelling 'We love you' and stuff," Anna Mae said.

Knoxville came over, signed an autograph and then posed for a picture with Anna Mae. "When he left I said, I love you. He said, 'Bye, bye, sweetheart,' and I almost fainted."

The brush with fame has left friends a little jealous and Anna Mae thinking about either being a journalist who can report on famous people or studying acting or another field to become famous herself.

Anna Mae was able to go out to the Missouri Dry Dock Tuesday in the rain to see her favorite again. When she heard Wednesday he had left Cape Girardeau, she was crushed. "I cried. I have been sad all day."

In joining the crowd watching from the sidelines, Anna Mae was one of many area residents who came to watch the painstaking work required to make a major feature movie. Unseasonably warm weather Thursday brought out another crowd to watch Jane talk on a pay phone at the Southern Bi-State Oil Co. store at South Sprigg Street and Highway 74.

More than 100 people at times stood as the crew spent about three hours setting up a shot and doing retakes. In the scene, extras drove their cars in along Sprigg Street while cameras caught Jane as he played out a telephone call.

Lane concluded her scenes Thursday morning and left Cape Girardeau, said Andrea Sporcic of the Missouri Film Commission. Today's action is mostly driving scenes on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, she said.

Filming will return to a set location in Cape Girardeau Saturday. Actor Mickey Rourke will come to town for filming that includes a scene at Brenda Place restaurant at 602 Morgan Oak St., Sporcic said. The schedule, however, is subject to change, she said.

Donna Palmer brought her 2-1/2-year-old granddaughter, Paige Wills, out for the fun. While Paige at times seemed more interested in the twine holding up an advertising sign in front of the convenience store, Palmer watched in fascination.

"It is just very exciting to see how much goes into it with the preparation and everything," she said.

Some people had a little more than a curious interest in the movie. Charles Parsons, an independent filmmaker in Cape Girardeau, has been watching each day.

"Monday, the first day, I was everywhere," he said. "I checked it out at the dry dock, but security was really, really tight there. I took some time off from work to see how the big boys do it."

Randy McWilson, an instructor at the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center, brought his class down for a look at the production. "It is really great for the students to be inspired by what they are seeing," he said.

Being part of the filming appealed so strongly to some that they went to extraordinary lengths to land a job as an extra. Randy Wheaton of Anna, Ill., was determined to get a role. He was in luck when he and his wife stopped at Denny's Diner in Cape Girardeau last weekend.

Wheaton overheard someone offer a greeting in the almost deserted restaurant and realized they were probably part of the crew. "I got my chance," he said. "I told my wife I was going to go talk to them."

Inquiring what it would take to be part of the movie, he was told that the producers needed to locate a tugboat. "I know the port manager, and he lined me up with a half-dozen names of people to call," he said.

Then he helped Ed Brooks of Dirt Road Picture Cars prepare the "hero truck" that will be used in a scene, and Wheaton was in. Thursday, he drove his pickup a half-block in one direction, then did a U-turn, came back in front of the cameras and did it again.

"Most of all out of this, you get bragging rights," he said.

The film crew was relaxed Thursday, allowing onlookers to get close to them and at times stopping to take their own pictures of the people gathered and their co-workers.

Dan Kinkade of St. Louis, the location manager, said the crew appreciates the welcome Cape Girardeau provided. "Everybody's been great, cooperative and enthusiastic," he said. "It has just been a breeze."

Along with the watchers on the set, many people have sought out the stars and crews in town. Knoxville spent time in several downtown taverns Monday and Tuesday, sometimes surrounded by crowds that forced him to seek refuge elsewhere.

Mark Weber, co-owner of the Rude Dog Pub, locked his door after Knoxville arrived about midnight Tuesday.

"I had to take the phone off the hook because people kept calling to see if they could get in," he said.

And Knoxville, star of MTV's "Jackass" program, did a typical stunt from that show, Weber said. As he drank a shot of tequila, "rather than lick the salt, he snorted it, slammed the shot and squeezed the lime into his eyeball."

And the aftermath is on film, Weber said. The visit Tuesday evening was his second time in the bar. "I got a picture of him after that happened," he said. "I did bring my camera in, just in case he showed up."

335-6611, extension 126

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