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Letter to the Editor: Legislature has driven away film industry

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Thank you for running the recent Fayetteville Observer editorial about the demise of the film industry in North Carolina. But I don't buy the premise that Republicans in Raleigh have not given movie makers incentives.

They have given them plenty: An incentive to stay away, an incentive to look elsewhere and, with the passage of the “Bathroom Bill” (now repealed), an incentive to write off North Carolina completely. The Observer noted that Wilmington, up until not so long ago, was the epicenter of cinematic activity in the state, but that its well deserved moniker of “Hollywood East” is now just a memory.

Well, here are some memories of my own. Starting in 1987, with dramatic training from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, I was able to build a motion picture and television resume right there in the Port City, playing a variety of roles – a New York City cop in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, an ESPN courtside director in “Never Give Up: The Jimmy V Story” and a ballistic soccer dad on “Dawson's Creek” to name a few.

As a performer, it was invaluable to have the opportunity to work with established stars like Robert Wagner (as R.J.'s stand-in in a CBS miniseries) and Andy Griffith (acting scenes with Ben Matlock).

Additionally, as a tour guide for five years with the “Hollywood Location Walk”, I showed excited fans from all over the world where their favorite TV shows or movie was filmed in downtown Wilmington.

Brooke Shields, Michelle Williams, Tim Robbins and Frances McDormand all shopped at my collectibles store there (not to mention countless set dressers).

Ms. McDormand's current movie “Three Billboards” (a rare N.C. feature production, shot in Sylva) is up for several Oscars and, for the moment, puts our state back on the cinematic map. Let's hope its success prods state lawmakers to keep improving incentives for filmmakers. Then, perhaps, lights, cameras and lots of “action” will roll back into North Carolina. It's only beneficial.

LEW MUSSER

Rocky Mount

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