That wasn't the flutter of mosquito wings you heard last night; it was the sound of thousands of female hearts atwitter at the thought of Brad Pitt coming to Winnipeg to film a movie.
The Winnipeg Free Press carried the initial story yesterday, but The Black Rod (entertainment division) brings you the full story today.
Heartthrob Brad Pitt is indeed making a movie in which he plays gunslinger Jesse James. The script is based on the novel The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford written by Robert Hansen.
Shooting is scheduled to begin in Calgary on August 29 then move to Edmonton in late September. The production will wrap up in November. (Although, given Pitt's recent illness, don't be surprised if the start date is pushed back.)
Locations will reportedly be split between Heritage Park (where the Gunfighters Western Stunt Club perform the "Gunfight at the Boundary Corral" for tourists) and Fort Edmonton Park which has been booked by "a film company" around Oct. 1.
Believe it or not, right now the only definite casting is Brad as Jesse. Auditions for the rest of the cast, including the major role of Robert Ford, are still taking place. Casting directors have already read actors in LA and have opened the search to non-name actors.
Final selections may be announced this week or next. But here's a look at some of the roles the producers are looking to fill based on an audition call we got our hands on:
Charley Ford: 30s. A likeably ignorant country boy who apologizes for his failings before they can be found out. Something of a good-natured dog about him. Something hungry, grateful, and vulnerable that makes up for his general vulgarity. Easy to be around;
Robert Woodson Hide: 30-40s. Jealous of Dick's easy ways with the ladies. Sulks and moons the afternoon through over some imagined slight. An old stick-in-the-mud who is always fuss-budgeting around, telling people what they can and can't do. So crotchety and orthodox that he seems almost elderly. Stern as John the Baptist;
Ed Miller: 40-50s. His best years are behind him. He is operating on three wheels. He lives in filth and muck: mold crusted dishes stacked on the kitchen table; a cat on the kitchen cutting board licking something from the sink; his clothes are wrinkled as crumpled paper; his fingernails are outlined with filth; a corner of his mouth is stained with tobacco juice. Note: should be an actor with a weight of sadness about him;
Dick Liddil: 30s. A good-looking horse thief. A ladies' man. He flirts with Ida and Martha and seduces Sarah Hite. Mercurial, reckless and impetuous. Crime is a lifestyle choice: Dick always has a robbery in his past, anxiety in the present, and uncertainty in his future. He is charming, though; [You all saw the picture but only now do you know the true story of why Stephen Harper was dressing like a fat GAY Caballero, auditions can be sooooo humiliating]
Sheriff James Timberlake: 40s-60s. No bullshit. Ex-confederate guerilla;
Henry H. Craig: 40s-50s. Police Commissioner. Seemingly stern, but with a sense of humor. Skeptical;
Albert: 12-14. Good looking in a choir-boy way. Schooled in how to answer a sheriff's interrogation. Note: Should be able to work himself into a frenzy at the drop of a hat. We need a kid who can cry until snot runs out of his nose.
The film makers are also looking for hundreds of extras. You have until Sunday (the 24th) to get to Edmonton where you can apply at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Centre.
The Calgary call is Aug. 21st. If they need more extras in Winnipeg, remember that they're looking for men with facial hair (so get started) and women with long hair that can be braided or rolled up.
The rights to Assassination of Jesse James belonged to Brad Pitt's production company Plan B which he owned with Jennifer Aniston and his former manager Brad Grey. It's been in development for more than a year, but only got the green light from Warner Brothers in mid-June, says a Warner Brothers executive; coincidentally a week before Grey, who now runs Paramount Pictures, signed a three-year agreement giving Paramount an exclusive first-look opportunity to produce movies developed at Plan B.
The movie is being produced jointly by Plan B and Scott Free Productions (owned by Ridley Scott who directed Pitt in Thelma and Louise and Tony Scott who directed Top Gun). But it looks like it was Brad who decided to take the film to Calgary rather than make it in the U.S.
If you remember, after the trees-in-the-Exchange District debacle in Winnipeg, Pitt filmed Legends of the Fall in Calgary in 1993. And he apparently fell in love with the city and region. "It's one of the most beautiful places I've filmed. I'd come back in a heartbeat if the right project came along," he told the press while promoting Ocean's Twelve.
He just wrapped up filming an artsy-fartsy movie called Babel with Cate Blanchett in Morocco. Babel was directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who reteamed with Guillermo Arriaga the writer of his films 21 Grams and Amores Perros. (Maybe he owed someone a debt or something.)
He should be headed for Calgary any day now to prep for shooting. But whether he gets to Winnipeg is another question. Don't forget that he was just hospitalized for viral meningitis. Do you think his producers are anxious to expose him to West Nile carrying mosquitoes in River City?
Just as Winnipeg lucked out with Jennifer Lopez and Shall We Dance because of the SARS outbreak in Toronto, so we may lose out on Brad Pitt and Jesse James because of West Nile, which is most dangerous to people with weakened immune systems.
Thanks for nothing, Taz.
But The Black Rod will leave you with a tip, and you don't have to thank us.
Here's a rather interesting email that came our way, and, as always, we'll share:
A source tells xxxxxxx that after Brad finishes filming in Africa, he is scheduled to shoot a film in Canada and Jolie is planning to come along! "Pitt is going to be in the movie The Assassination of Jesse James, which will be shot here in Calgary (3 hrs from Edmonton) and in Fort Saskatchewan. Brad and Angelina Jolie have rooms booked for 2 months at the Hotel Macdonald." Brad Pitt will indeed take up residence in Edmonton, to shoot numerous scenes in Fort Edmonton Park once its summer season is over. The Assassination of Jesse James have decided the big Hollywood feature will be shot in Alberta in August and September.
Keep it under your cowboy hat and don't tell anyone, eh.