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„Our theme was that of movement, running, transition,“ commented Mancuso. „And in a lot of ways, Atlanta signifies a transitional South that still has some good ole boys in it and yet truly is a progressive city, the gateway to the future for the South.“
They stepped up their scouting efforts, looking for unique sites and devising new exciting scenes to further flesh out the script. Since Mancuso and Associate Producer Vikki Williams had previously filmed in Atlanta, they knew that the city offered locations that ranged from the gritty urban to the lush suburban to the farming hinterlands all within a short drive of Atlanta’s inner core.
„I love Atlanta. I’ve been shooting here on and off, either as an actor and then as a director, for the last 20 years,“ enthuses Hooks. „I know the town well. The people are fantastic. There’s a great talent pool here from which we can draw a lot of our key positions.“
Many of the selected film crew from the South had worked on numerous acclaimed films and TV shows, such as Fried Green Tomatoes, The War, Andersonville, and the long running series In The Heat Of The Night.
And with long standing residents such as Elton John, Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, Bernard Shaw, the Hawks basketball team and the entire LaFace Artists franchise, crowds appreciatively do not go wild at the sight of „stars.“
There were a lot of things FLED members could count on during production. The cigars for example. The Cohiba cigars are not only an essential prop in the script, but also one of the more pleasureable pastimes that Baldwin, Mancuso, Hooks and even Hayek shared.
On the first day of production, technical director Robert Visciglia made a makeshift humidor for Hooks out of his microwave. Baldwin, of course, never traveled without one. And a surprise benefit of picking the actors who played the Cuban Mafia villains out of Miami was the fact that they had a direct connection to some of the finest blends.
The office staff could always count on at least one box, with generally three or four arriving every day for Baldwin. Baldwin is a major shopper and does a lot of it while filming. If any Atlanta resident was hoping to have a Baldwin sighting over the weekends, the mall would be the place.
There and in a box a the Omni watching the Hawks shoot hoops. The first weekend both Baldwin and Fishburne were in town, they joined with Hooks, Mancuso and Whitmore for a Hawks/Knicks game.
The actors and filmmakers found that Atlanta had a lot to offer in terms of weekend diversions. Fishburne declined the bright lights, preferring out of the way bookstores and small jazz/blues clubs. The only time the press was able to spot him was during the Martin Luther King day parade, where he accepted Coretta Scott King’s offer to walk with her. And with his commitments to continue publicity on Othello perform several public service announcements for charity organizations, he really didn’t have a lot of time the first two months of production to consider many recreational activities.
However, he did manage to assure that the cast and crew got to attend a free screening of Othello, complete with the requisite lowfat popcorn and Coke.
Mancuso and Hooks, with only morning hours free even during off days, soon found just which golf courses fulfilled their needs. Directions, however, could sometimes prove challenging. During one brightly lit day in which Mancuso planned to golf against Baldwin, the producer had driven for over an hour in what he was sure was the right direction. Only when he saw a sign that said „Entering Tennessee“ did he realize no golfing would take place that day.
Baldwin, on the other hand, was here, there and everywhere. Weekly began haunting in hopes of catching him.
He played a celebrity fundraising tennis tournament with Elton John, Pete Samprass and Andre Agassi. He persuaded Mancuso to explore both the elite and the dregs of Atlanta’s clublife.
But, at heart, Baldwin is as much of a quiet, stay at home, enjoy the basic joys of life as Fishburne. He says this is the main reason he decided to live in Tucson after he met and married his wife, Kennya.
Hayek, during her free time, took the city on foot walking far and near. Often bundled up in a fur coat and woollies against the cold, only someone who could identify her by her eyes alone would know who the brisk foot trafficker was.
Will Patton was the most adventurous. He’d simply get in his car and drive down any country road, meandering along. This pattern, he says, allowed him to see some of the most beautiful countryside in Atlanta and neighboring states.