The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

March 6, 2010

Hooray for Hollywood ... and for Enid too!

Tonight is Hollywood’s night to shine.

The 82nd annual Academy Awards will be presented during an evening-long television spectacular hosted by Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin (who once ran into me exiting a Broadway theater, but that’s a whole other story).

As usual, I have not seen the vast majority of the films up for the Best Picture award. The lone exception is “Up,” the sweet but action-packed animated collaboration between Disney and Pixar.

If one nominee receives the coveted Oscar, there will be a connection to Enid — sort of.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Crazy Heart,” a film in which she plays a shy young journalist who falls in love with a broken-down country singer, played by Best Actor nominee Jeff Bridges.

Gyllenhaal’s character, Jean Craddock, works for a New Mexico newspaper but originally hails from, yes, you guessed it, Enid.

There is no evidence Gyllenhaal, a New York City native, has ever been to our fair city, and she certainly contacted no Enid journalists as part of her research before shooting began.

But if she wins, we can take at least a measure of pride in her accomplishment.

Enid, of course, has many ties to Hollywood, not the least of which is our town’s prominent mention in the film “Jurassic Park III,” which features frequent references to Enid and Westgate Shopping Center. Among the film’s final lines, referring to dinosaurs seeking a new place to live, is “I dare ’em to nest in Enid, Oklahoma.”

Glenda Farrell certainly nested in Enid. She was born here, in fact, and went on to star in 75 films, most notably a series during the 1930s and 1940s in which she starred as fast-talking newspaper reporter (there’s that theme again) Torchy Blane.

Enid has ties to those who labor behind the cameras, as well. Blake Evans, Enid native and graduate of Enid High, wrote the script for the film “Flyboys.” Former Enid resident Jim Strain co-wrote the script for the film “Jumanji.” Mark Marshall, another Enid native, has worked for both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, having a hand in such films as “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” and “Back to the Future.”

Hollywood has, of course, come to town a few times, the most recent being last summer when scenes from the film “The Killer Inside Me,” were shot here.

Other films shot in and around Enid include “Twister,” and “Dillinger.”

And of course Enid’s own moviemakers, Rick and Larry Simpson, are set to begin shooting their fifth movie, “Cactus Creek,” some of which will be filmed here.

Enid even broke into television recently when a character in CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” contemplated moving here because of our low crime rate and high speed Internet. He decided against it because there is no model railroad store here. Also, the Discovery Channel series “Ghost Lab” filmed an episode here in which they searched for the ghost of David E. George, who claimed to be presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth.

It’s nice for Hollywood to take notice of us here in the heartland once in awhile. But it’s just as nice to be able to keep our distance from Tinseltown.

Hollywood is crowded, and crazy and is a nice place to visit but ... well, you know the rest.

At least we can watch this year’s Oscars and have somewhat of a rooting interest. If Gyllenhaal wins, it will be a victory for Enid, sort of.

Just a note to Hollywood, next time you are casting the role of a shy  young journalist from Enid, I am available, and I work cheap. Shy I can do, young might be something of a stretch.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. E-mail him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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