Archive for Saturday, October 21, 1989


October 21, 1989


Although no one is sure exactly how much is being spent or where, money from Michael Landon Productions' movie-making is making its way around Lawrence.

A look at just a few of many places where the makers of "Where Pigeons Go To Die" have spent their dollars gives some idea of the positive impact the project has on the local economy.

It also shows some happy merchants.

"We've increased revenues 20 percent for the month," said Richard Nathan, general manager of the Lawrence Holidome where Landon and the production crew is staying.

Nathan said that because the movie-makers chose to come in at the beginning of the motel's slower winter season and also at a time between Kansas University home football games, the added business helps all the more.

"We're happy to have them," Nathan said.

AT A NEWS conference when he arrived in town to begin filming, Landon estimated that his budget for the film would be more than $3 million. Based on that estimate, Jerry Jones, coordinator of the Kansas Film Commission, said $1 million or more could be expected to be spent by the production company in Kansas.

"Twenty-five to 50 percent of a movie budget is spent on location," he said.

Because "Where Pigeons Go To Die" is being filmed in three locations Baldwin, Overland Park and Lawrence some spending has occurred in all three locations. But because Lawrence is the home base for the production, many of the dollars are staying here.

Managers and owners of Lawrence restaurants, rental stores, car rental agencies, hardware stores and construction companies say they have gotten some of the business.

IN FACT, THE Hertz Rent A Car licensee at 23rd and Ohio ran out of cars to rent because of the business provided by the production company.

"We were sold out, literally," said Janice Zishka, who has been working to find cars for the movie production company.

Ms. Zishka said that most of the time, the Hertz agency has about 30 cars on hand to rent. But when they got the call from Michael Landon Productions, they were caught a little short.

"We really had to pull our hair out," Ms. Zishka said. "It really put a strain on us."

In total, the agency rented 10 cars to the production company including a car to Michael Landon himself and about six other cars to various crew members, she said.

Ms. Zishka said the last request she got from the production company was the toughest to fill.

"WE GOT A call last Sunday for a car for one of Michael Landon's producers," she said. "The only car we had was in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn. But a sheriff's department in Missouri called and said not to touch that car because it had been involved in some kind of drug deal in Missouri.

"I said `But it's rented; it's the only car we have,'" Ms. Zishka said.

Eventually, the officials released the car so it could be rented. Once again, Ms. Zishka said, the situation "was very hair-raising."

The larger cars rented by Hertz go for $700 a month, and the production crew has reserved them for two months, Ms. Zishka said. She would not say what kind of car Michael Landon rented for himself but said that when she eventually gets around to selling the vehicle, she will advertise it as "the car driven by Michael Landon."

OWNERS OF A local equipment rental agency and a hardware store both said business from the production company has been good. And both said this added business started coming in long before the majority of the production company arrived in town.

Bob Zimmerman, owner of the Lawrence Coast to Coast Hardware Store, said that ever since the production company began building sets for the movie about a month ago, the builders have come in about every other day looking for something.

He said they have purchased tools, paint and other hardware items.

"It's been a real plus for us," he said.

Bob Anderson, owner of Anderson Rental, said production company members have rented items as diverse as portable rest rooms to an air compressor. They even noticed some paintings done locally up on the wall of the business and rented them to help decorate a room for one scene.

AT THE CENTRON Corporation, where rooms were rented for the filming of some indoor scenes in the movie, construction also has been taking place.

Linda Pahlman, operations manager for Centron, said local construction workers spent a good part of this week building the sets to the production company's specifications.

Although the production company has brought in its own caterer to feed the crew on location, there has also been money spent at local restaurants.

Charles Paden, who with his wife owns Fifi's Nabil's Restaurant, said production company members do not always identify themselves, but he knows some have eaten there.

"Generally, it does impact on the restaurant," he said. "We've had Mr. Landon in a couple of times, and he had a party with him."

MONEY ALSO goes directly into area people's pockets when they are hired as extras and stand-ins or for small speaking parts in the movie.

Susan McCray, casting director for Michael Landon Productions, said that in all, the company will hire more than 100 extras, 10 to 12 stand-ins and six people for speaking parts.

Extras, she said, are paid $35 a day and stand-ins get the same unless they have overtime. And people with speaking parts earn $500.

Besides direct financial benefit to local merchants and people hired by the production crew, Jones and Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau, both emphasized the help coming to the area through positive publicity.

Mrs. Billings said other production companies could follow Landon's.

"From our contacts, Michael Landon Productions is very, very well-respected, and if they have a good experience here, word will spread," she said.

Jones said the Landon movie will result in a million dollars worth of free publicity. And he said this publicity works for an area on two levels.

It helps get other production crews interested in an area, he said, and it attracts tourists and their dollars to the area.

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