Hollywood Comes to the Hub

Revenues from TV and film skyrocket

By now, nearly everyone knows that Good Will Hunting, last year's block-buster flick starring Harvard drop-out Matt Damon '92, was filmed in and around Cambridge. But how many people know about the scores of other big pictures, including Amistad and Glory, shot in Beantown?

Did any Harvard undergraduates head down to Landsdowne Street's Karma Club last Christmas to crash the cast party for "A Civil Action"? John Travolta and Robert Duvall star in this Touchstone Pictures production, which tells the true story of an ill-fated law-suit against two corporations accused of dumping carcinogens in Woburn, Mass.

Revenues from projects filmed in the Bay State have mushroomed from about $5 million three-and-a-half years ago to more than $101 million last year from feature films alone, according to Robin E. Dawson, executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office (MFO).

A Chance for Fame

For the ambitious, walk-on parts abound around Boston, where several independent films are currently in the production stage. These include Monument Ave., a picture about Boston's Southies starring Dennis Leary, and The Love Letter, a DreamWorks production featuring Tom Selleck and Ellen DeGeneres.

Those who consider themselves suited for television might call the folks at Fox about a walk-on role in one of the network's newest shows. All exterior footage for the sitcom "Costello," debuting this season with star Sue Costello as a stand-up comedian from South Boston, is shot in the city.

Some thought Boston lost its claim to television fame when the long-running series "Cheers," filmed at the downtown Bull and Finch Pub, aired its last episode in 1993.

But since "Cheers" said good-bye, a raft of new shows have taken up residence in the city.

"Ally McBeal," last season's hit from Fox, chronicles the daily trials of its title character, a Boston attorney and Harvard Law graduate played by Calista Flockhart.

The action in ABC's "The Practice," another law drama, which along with "Ally McBeal" is the brainchild of Boston native David Kelley, also unfolds in the city.

In addition to such current shows, re-runs of NBC's "St. Elsewhere," ABC's "Spenser for Hire" and MTV's "Real World VI" offer viewers glimpses of the Hub.

A Surprising Source of Income

The monetary rewards of playing host to Hollywood have earned the attention of Acting Governor A. Paul Cellucci (R).

Just last week he attended a ceremony honoring the winner of the 5th annual Boston Film Festival screenwriting competition.

Daily Variety, a magazine for entertainment-world insiders, actually dubbed the state leader "Massachusetts' movie enthusiast."