Carroll County charmed the cameras away from the Hollywood back lots several times in 1990, as cameras rolled on an ABC-TV miniseries, an FBI video and an employee training segment for an international company.

The brightest and best-known stars shone in Union Bridge, when Sidney Poitier and Burt Lancaster came to town in September to film a four-hour television miniseries.

Residents kept watch for about 10 hours as film crews put the cast through its paces. Longtime resident Shay Thomas called the production the "biggest commotion the town has ever seen."

Tentatively titled "Separate but Equal," the movie details the events leading up to the U.S. Supreme Court's momentous decision to desegregate the nation's schools.

Union Bridge won a part in the miniseries by virtue of its train station, built on Main Street in 1902.

Executive producer Stan Marqulies said his search for a historic depot ended at the Western Maryland Historical Society Museum, where 1950s-style passenger trains are housed.

"We needed a period train and a period train station," said Marqulies.

"Union Bridge had the closest thing to our needs and the most cooperative people."

The scenes shot in town will fill about 10 minutes of the total footage.

They depict a meeting between a black sociologist and Thurgood Marshall, the lawyer who later became a Supreme Court justice.

Poitier plays Marshall, and Lancaster has the part of attorney John W.

Davis, who often opposed Marshall in court.

After mingling with onlookers and signing autographs, Poitier pronounced Union Bridge "a wonderful town" and added that he was enthusiastic about the story line.

"It's history and it helps us define ourselves, to clarify where we came from and where we possibly have to go," said the Academy Award-winner.

Three other film crews came to the county in 1990: * Although not quite as star-studded, the FBI training film "NCIC -- Missing Children" was shot at several sites in Westminster, Finksburg and Union Bridge.

Police departments throughout the country will receive copies of the 10-minute tape, in which area state police and their families starred.

The tape portrays three situations in which the National Crime Information Computer, located in Washington, D.C., could help locate missing children.

The NCIC, which compiles information on missing or wanted people and other crime data, contains all Maryland's missing persons information.

"The film, designed to be shown at roll call, is succinct and gets the message across quickly," said Lt. Tom Murrill of the state police telecommunications unit. "We use the NCIC system every day."

* Westminster also landed a part in an employee training film produced by BMW of North America for its sales staff.

On a warm June afternoon, East Green Street had its brief moment of glory, as traffic stopped and Vince Clews and Associates of Baltimore County shot the scene.

* Vince Clews and Associates returned in August to film an Internal Revenue Service-sponsored saga of taxation at the Union Mills Homestead.

Curator Esther Shriver said they chose the location because "it looked like an old-time tavern." She already has received her copy of the 30-minute film and said it should be available for schools throughout the country shortly.

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