Free Press Business Writer
George Clooney and Hilary Swank, two of Hollywood’s biggest box office draws, are expected to film movies in the newly starstruck Detroit area in the next two months.
Clooney is set to star in the Paramount film “Up in the Air,” part of which is set to be filmed at the Berry and McNamara Terminals at Detroit Metro Airport likely for a week in late February.
The producers of “Betty Anne Waters,” starring actress Swank of “Million Dollar Baby” fame, have been granted permission by Livingston County Commissioners to film March 4 outside the historic county courthouse in Howell.
Scott Wintner, a spokesman for the Wayne County Airport Authority, said the airport does not have a contract signed yet with the movie studio but that typically is done at the last minute. The studio will have to pay the airport to film there -- fees for a production involving 16 or more people start at $4,400 for four hours and $600 for each additional hour.
Janet Lockwood, director of the Michigan Film Office, said the Clooney film “fell into our laps” because the airport has an empty terminal -- the Berry building, which was decommissioned after the North Terminal opened in September. It is now vacant, save for a few authority offices.
Clooney is expected to star as a professional who specializes in career transition counseling (a euphemism for firing people). He is looking to accomplish his two main goals in life: to accumulate 1 million frequent flier miles, and to land a job at a mysterious management company called MythTech, according to the Web site IMDB, which catalogs movie information.
The movie is expected to be directed by Jason Reitman, who was nominated for an Oscar for his work on the 2008 movie “Juno.” It is based on a book by the same name, written by Walter Kim.
For movie starring Swank, the Livingston commissioners unanimously approved a resolution Monday for Ann Arbor-based Innocence Productions, Inc., to use the west side of the county courthouse grounds for filming from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. on that date. The movie is expected to be filmed at multiple locations in Michigan over several weeks.
“It’s definitely a positive event for the community and something to be upbeat about during these difficult times,” said Maggie Jones, chairperson of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners, who added that the production company also donated $1,000 to a community foundation.
The film, based on a true story, is about a single working mother who puts herself through law school in order to represent her brother, who was wrongly convicted of murder and has used up his attempts to appeal his conviction.