Thursday, February 7, 2008

Montana in Middle Tennessee?

Posted By on Thu, Feb 7, 2008 at 12:24 PM

click to enlarge hannah7.jpg
The best of both worlds, indeed. Nothing is official—no formal announcement is being made, and the outcome still hinges on a number of factors, from the ongoing WGA strike to budget considerations—but chances are looking good the upcoming Hannah Montana feature will shoot in Middle Tennessee, perhaps as soon as late March or April. Jim Humphres, Nashville-based business manager to both Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus, stresses that "no formal notification" has been made whether the movie will film here. The state has been under consideration for the planned feature since at least last fall. But he says that Disney and Tennessee's state film commission have been "diligently working" to find acceptable terms. We'll bet they have. Not yet 16, Miley Cyrus made headlines around the world last weekend when the Hannah Montana concert film grossed more than $31 million. That figure is doubly astonishing when you consider the movie was released the weekend of the most watched Super Bowl in history. Humphres says the Williamson County native may be a presenter at both the Grammys and the Oscars. "Not bad for a girl from Thompson's Station," he says. The state's chief rival, to no one's surprise, is reportedly Louisiana, whose tax-credit incentives for film production are one of the biggest lures in the South. But Humphres gives the state and its film commission credit for "aggressively moving in the right direction." If Tennessee lands the film, the subsequent PR bonanza—and more importantly, millions of dollars of in-state spending and jobs created—would be a major coup for Gov. Phil Bredesen and the state's film industry. What may tilt the table in Tennessee's favor is comfort. If the Hannah Montana feature films here, it would probably shoot near the Cyruses' home in Thompson's Station. "Miley and Billy Ray really want to come back to Tennessee and work close to home for awhile," says Humphres, who has managed Billy Ray Cyrus' business affairs since 1991—"even before 'Achy Breaky Heart,'" he adds with a chuckle. "I think it will end up here," he says. UPDATE: A veteran Middle Tennessee film-industry professional is saying that the shoot will indeed be here in mid-April.

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