The city election involved lots of debate over a new headquarters for the Terre Haute Police Department.
But is Raleigh, N.C., really a fitting location? The 750-mile commute for the cops would be dreadful.
Seriously, a building in downtown Raleigh posed as the THPD headquarters Wednesday during the filming of a scene in the upcoming movie “Arthur Newman, Golf Pro.” The production crew of Vertebra Newman Film Co. placed Terre Haute Police Department signs and insignias on the exterior of the Raleigh News & Observer newspaper building on McDowell Street. The largest sign identified the site as THPD “Central Precinct 427.” A squad car also bore an eerily real THPD decal.
The film stars Colin Firth as Wallace Avery, a man whose life has unraveled. He’s lost his job, his ex-wife and son despise him, and he’s blown his chance at his dream job on the professional golf tour, where he’s known as “The Choker,” according to a synopsis provided by the film company. Even his unemployment checks wind up getting lost. Wanting to escape it all, “Wallace decides to take advantage of an offer he received after helping the owner of a private club in Terre Haute correct his swing — a job as the club’s pro.”
So, he fakes his own death, takes on the identity of a golf pro, Arthur Newman, and heads out on a road trip. In this alternate universe, he meets a young girl named Mike (played by Emily Blunt), who is also running from a troubled past.
Together, they break into vacant houses and assume the absent owners’ identities. Anne Heche plays Firth’s girlfriend, who badly mistreats him.
A pair of Terre Haute police officers are played by actors Michael Beasley and Ron Prather, with a half-dozen local extras acting as fellow cops, according to Brooke Cain, a reporter for the News & Observer who covered Wednesday’s activities.
Several other North Carolina towns served as other U.S. cities depicted in the movie, including Orlando, Fla.
Readers may ask, “Why Terre Haute?” Well, no one from Vertebra Newman was available Thursday to explain the choice. Such cinematic mystery is becoming a baffling trend for Terre Haute. Comic actor Will Ferrell and a small production crew showed up unannounced at Seventh and Wabash one morning in September, filmed what appeared to be an Old Milwaukee beer commercial, dined at Cracker Barrel and left without explanation.
Now, a Southern city is pretending to be Terre Haute for a day in a movie starring an Academy Award winner (Firth), a Golden Globe winner (Blunt) and an Emmy Award winner (Heche), and the question remains, “Why Terre Haute?”
Folks in Raleigh probably wondered the same thing Wednesday as they watched the movements of the actors.
In the Terre Haute scenes, Firth sits in a park (Raleigh’s Nash Square) across the street from the police station. (Imagine that — the 2011 Oscar winner for Best Actor camped out in a local park.) Blunt walks out of the station lobby and into the park to meet Firth. Blunt’s outfit and makeup looked a bit Gothic, with “short shorts” and blackened hair, said Cain. She speculated that Blunt’s character might have been in trouble with the law. Heche did not act in that scene, but did in another shot elsewhere in Raleigh, reportedly meant to be Orlando.
News & Observer officials had been contacted by the production company earlier this fall, and a location scout visited the building, said Felicia Gressette, the newspaper’s vice president of marketing.
“They liked the look of our building, which is mid-’50s, vintage,” Gressette said.
(Obviously, mid-’50s, vintage is also Hollywood’s image of a police station in Terre Haute.)
The News & Observer agreed upon a deal for the filming, but no one at the newspaper realized it would be the setting for a police headquarters in Indiana.
“We all came to work [Wednesday] and saw a great big sign on the front of the building saying ‘Terre Haute Police Department,’” Cain said, chuckling.
The presence of the high-profile cast members caught the attention of numerous newspaper staffers and other Raleigh residents. “I mostly worked,” Gressette said, “but some spent a good deal of time star gazing.”
Terre Haute residents — real Hauteans living in the actual Indiana city — reacted much the same way when Ferrell breezed into downtown two months ago. The sign of Hollywood types isn’t quite so rare for Raleigh locals. North Carolina, especially Wilmington, has an active film industry. In fact, Firth came to neighboring Durham in 2009, the setting of his recently released movie “Main Street,” which didn’t wow theater-goers or critics.
“I hope [‘Arthur Newman, Golf Pro’] is a good movie,” Gressette said.
Me, too. In the meantime, Hauteans can pop open an Old Milwaukee, break out the golf clubs and wait to see how Will Ferrell and the Vertebra Newman Film Co. portray our humble town.
Mark Bennett can be reached at (812) 231-4377 or email@example.com.
The city election involved lots of debate over a new headquarters for the Terre Haute Police Department.
- News Columns
MAX JONES: Newspapers can be fun, too; check out Readers’ Choice
Smart and savvy newspaper readers (that’s all of you, of course) know full well that their daily consumption of news and information isn’t an exclusively high-brow pursuit.
MAUREEN HAYDEN: Lugar’s Legacy
In October 2012, at a dinner with friends, I found myself sitting next to a woman who’d grown up in Russia.
MAUREEN HAYDEN: AG goes after his own kind
Supporters of same-sex marriage hailed Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring when he announced that he wouldn’t defend his state’s prohibition against gay marriage.
THE OFF SEASON: So what does kindness look like?
There is an argument going on near my window sill. As I sit down to clack away at what will be a story about kindness, a squirrel and four blue jays bicker over a pile of birdseed I have left as charity.
I am not sure who will win out, but my money is on the jays, if anything, for their persistence and general orneriness.
MAUREEN HAYDEN: Offshore tax havens undermine state
Gov. Mike Pence has spent months pushing the idea of repealing the tax on business equipment that provides $1 billion a year to schools, libraries and local governments.
MARK BENNETT: Illinois officials content their state has its business advantages, too
Most people count the Wabash River as an economic asset for Terre Haute. Of course, economic development officials in the Land of Lincoln beg to differ.
MIKE LUNSFORD: ‘To sleep, perchance to dream’
I’ve been thankful this winter for a full propane tank and ample cold cranking amps and school snow-delay days that have kept me off the roads until the sun is up on the most frigid of these mornings.
MAUREEN HAYDEN: Overshadowed bills address veterans, guns, ‘Do Not Call’, TANF drug tests
If you’ve ever blown past a school bus with its bright red “Stop” arm extended, convinced you wouldn’t get caught breaking the law because no police were around, you might think twice about trying it again.
MAUREEN HAYDEN: Law hits poverty-stricken schools hard
Chuck Brimbury is no-excuses kind of guy.
MARK BENNETT: Indiana should revisit its time-zone classification
Mister Spock would look at the situation in Indiana and, in that dispassionate “Star Trek” voice, utter a firm conclusion.
“That is illogical,” he’d say.
MIKE LUNSFORD: The night the snow fell
You would think that the cold winds and deep snows that we endured two weeks ago would be old news by now, but as I stood in the checkout line at a grocery store just a few days back, a gallon of milk in one hand and a quart of orange juice in the other, a customer just ahead of me appeared to be stocking up to make a run for the Donner Pass, and all she could talk about was the storm.
MAX JONES: Digging for wisdom in Larrison’s lament
Ferocious winter storms have been a rarity in west-central Indiana in recent decades, even though heavy snow or sub-zero stretches of days drop in occasionally to remind us how miserable they can make us.
MAUREEN HAYDEN: Plenty of ‘emptiness’ to go around at start of 2014 session
Last Tuesday’s cold start to the 2014 legislative session was warmed by the standing ovation given to House Minority Leader Scott Pelath following his traditional opening day remarks.
MAUREEN HAYDEN: Conservative fight against constitutional amendment
Megan Robertson grew up in a Democratic family in a heavily Democratic area known as “the region” for its proximity to Chicago.
MARK BENNETT: Album turns memories into musical Christmas message for Terre Haute’s Dave Frey, band
In a way, Dave Frey walked in the footsteps of Charles Schulz.
Both men worked hard to let Linus Van Pelt explain the “true meaning of Christmas.”
MARK BENNETT: ‘Longest Night Service’ a time to reflect, remember
Holiday images rarely depict hurt or struggle.
MAUREEN HAYDEN: Meth labs so prevalent, test kits on market for homebuyers
Donetta Held knows how strange the world of methamphetamine is.
MIKE LUNSFORD: ‘The mind is a dark forest’
If you hadn’t noticed by reading this newspaper or hearing me crow about it myself, I have another collection of stories out in print.
MAUREEN HAYDEN: Hoosiers’ priorities vs. legislators’ agenda
Every year at about this time, Statehouse reporters like me ask lawmakers what their priorities will be for the coming year.
MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Cheneys’ feud hits Indiana
Oh, it’s on.
If there was any doubt that the coming fight over the same-sex marriage ban amendment in Indiana was going to be elevated to the national level, it’s gone.
Chamber: Repeal ‘smoker’s bill of rights’
When Indiana lawmakers return for the 2014 session in early January, they’ll step into the highly charged issue of marriage equality as they debate the proposed amendment that would lock into the state constitution a ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions.
MIKE LUNSFORD: Inching on toward a cold winter?
I’m not ready for snow and ice and the daggers of a north wind, but I have finally accepted the fact that winter is nearly here.
MARK BENNETT: Words, and what they mean, is what we remember
I remember scanning the granite wall at the grave of President John F. Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery, looking for those words.
Citizens fight for school funds
Never underestimate the power of high school band parents.
MARK BENNETT: Tommy John getting another shot at Baseball Hall of Fame
Go ahead, circle Dec. 9 on your calendar.
Pence eyes reducing infant mortality as key legislative goal for administration
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence opened the state’s Infant Mortality Summit last week by sharing a personal story: He and his wife had struggled with infertility issues early in their marriage, so the eventual arrival of their three children was met with deep gratitude and appreciation.
Filling our void: Terre Haute artist Bill Wolfe poured his heart and soul into the project of a lifetime
Bill Wolfe thumbed through a series of photographs documenting his sculpture of basketball legend Larry Bird.
MIKE LUNSFORD: Pumpkins: Good for the fork and the (carving) knife
My wife and I are fairly frugal; we are budgeters and planners. In the fall, we set aside what we’ll need to heat the house and pay the doctor and buy sensible shoes for school. I think we’re going to have to open an account for pumpkins, too.
MAX JONES: Fight for public access among Dave Cox’s legacies
A group of Indiana newspaper editors who advise the Hoosier State Press Association on issues related to access to public records and meetings had the opportunity to meet new Public Access Counselor Luke Britt last week.
MARK BENNETT: Indiana’s Donnelly part of ‘The Middle’ that got deal done
Hanging out in the middle isn’t cool.
Its occupants don’t attract a captivated circle of listeners at parties, their comments don’t inspire hell-yeahs on Facebook, and they don’t pretend to always be right.
- More News Columns Headlines
- MAX JONES: Newspapers can be fun, too; check out Readers’ Choice