Lights, Camera, Action

Colorado's ready for that close-up.

Colorado's collected other memorable film clips. Every Which Way But Loose, the 1978 Clint Eastwood classic in which Dirty Harry partnered with an orangutan (and two Westword extras, barely visible in the back of a fight scene shot just off Colfax Avenue); City Slickers, the 1990 movie in which Billy Crystal says he "found my smile in Colorado"; Rodney Dangerfield in 1991's Ladybugs, which was enough to make you lose your lunch. And while Raymond Burr was a big fan of filming in our town, eventually we lost the Perry Mason TV movies to Vancouver, where much of the film industry has fled. (Peacekeepers, the new USA TV series supposedly set in the 1880s Colorado town of, yes, Silver City, is shot there.)

In 1995, Hickenlooper's restaurant got a role in Under Siege 2, with Steven Seagal playing a Navy Seal turned chef at the Wynkoop Brewing Co. That same year, Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead died at the box office. In 2001, though, Jack Nicholson did his best to liven things back up with a brief scene shot here for About Schmidt.

Fast-forward to this spring, when Sayles and Maggie Renzi, his partner and producer, decided that Colorado might work as the setting for the mystery they had in mind. They arrived in town just two months after the Colorado Legislature had hacked the 3.5-person Colorado Film Commission down to one person, now reassigned to the Colorado Office of Tourism. But Sayles and Renzi knew what they wanted without a bureaucratic dog-and-pony show. They wanted a place with "character," Sayles said at a August 4 press conference where he announced he'd be making his next feature here. "One I haven't seen in movies a million times."

And it didn't hurt that Denver has plenty of talented people eager to help out on the film -- in the office, on the set, with props, with parts. Or that, as he says, "Denver is a cool place to be."

It's going to look cool on film, too.

"We're putting a spotlight on something people don't know," says Renzi, who's been in Denver two months now, pulling the deal together. "We're going to help people discover Denver."

And that includes the people who live here. The Silver City crew will be filming in Leadville (which stars as the not-too-fictional Carbonville), in Idaho Springs and in dozens of spots around Denver, including the Millennium Bridge, the El Rio bar up by the chicken-processing plants, the Temple Events Center, the Equitable Building -- an "incredible lobby," says Renzi -- and the Cherokee Ranch, where the two-day shoot will serve as a fundraiser for the trust to which Tweet Kimball left her amazing castle outside Sedalia.

Shooting begins next Tuesday in the basement of 1770 Sherman Street, which will do duty as the office of an alternative Web site run by Tim Roth, with an assist from Thora Birch. By the time the crew wraps, around Halloween, Silver City will have captured more than fifty locations -- including the current Westword office, which apparently does a much more convincing job of playing at newspapering than I do.

My phone may not have rung, but Denver's finally going to get some long-anticipated action.

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