Friday, September 21, 2007

Truth and Consequences

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2007 at 6:25 PM

Casting is underway in Memphis for Nothing But the Truth, the new film by Rod Lurie, director of the Oscar-nominated The Contender and the current Samuel L. Jackson drama Resurrecting the Champ. Signed on so far for the film are Kate Beckinsale, Matt Dillon, Vera Farmiga, David Schwimmer and Alan Alda, with more to be announced soon. The film, produced by Lurie, Yari Film Group mogul Bob Yari and Marc Frydman, commences shooting Oct. 10 and is expected to wrap by Thanksgiving.

Like The Contender, Nothing But the Truth is a topical drama, with some similarities in this case to the Valerie Plame controversy. "There is a reporter, and a CIA agent, and the reporter goes to jail," says Lurie, a veteran journalist who turned to feature filmmaking with the 1999 thriller Deterrence. In a rather unusual twist for contemporary movies, the journalist is a deeply principled hero. "Hopefully you guys will get behind this one," Lurie says playfully.

Even more unusual is that the film is not set in Memphis, but in northern Virginia. "It's very good for Tennessee that it's not set in Memphis," says Lurie, who filmed his 2001 drama The Last Castle with Robert Redford and James Gandolfini at the Tennessee State Penitentiary facility in Nashville. By showing other filmmakers that Memphis can double for other cities, Lurie explains, it will generate a lot more production interest. "If you can create a generic city here," he says, "that's going to open new horizons of film work."

Lurie also cites the state's new incentives package, a project that took years and a heavy political toll, as a major draw. "It shows great wisdom on the part of the government," he observes, as "each dollar goes through three or four generations."

Lurie credits Perry Gibson, executive director of the Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission, with convincing him to move the production to the state. "I don't think I've met such an energetic woman," the director says. "She found a way to deliver everything we needed." Between Gibson and Shelby County film commissioner Linn Sitler, he says, "they've taken such good care of us that they've whetted our appetite for shooting our next film here." That could be Lurie's announced remake of Sam Peckinpah's still-controversial rape-revenge drama Straw Dogs. Stay tuned.

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