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Courthouse star is Eddie Murphy Actor fights corruption in new movie.


The Clarence Mitchell Courthouse in Baltimore was crawling with dozens of Hollywood types -- production managers, a guy with a rack of 50 ties, men lugging big bundles of wires -- as actor Eddie Murphy was in town today to film part of a movie that seems to imitate life these days.

The movie, a comedy called "Distinguished Gentleman," is about corruption in Congress.

A production crew consisting of about 125 people was bustling in and out of the courthouse. Several tractor-trailers, a tour bus and other vehicles were parked by the North Calvert Street entrance.

Mr. Murphy plays a small-time con-man named Thomas Johnson who is elected to Congress. He tries to use the system for his own gain,then he has a change of heart. The character eventually tries to expose corruption and greed in Congress, said a production official who asked not to be named.

Baltimorean Charles Dutton also is in the movie. He currently stars in "Roc," a Fox network sitcom. Steven Newman, a publicist for the movie, said Mr. Dutton was not scheduled to be part of the filming in Baltimore.

Jay Schlossberg-Cohen, director of the Maryland Film Commission, said the three-day filming is big news for the local economy.

"It kicks off what looks to be a very good year for us," he said.

A movie by director-actor-writer Robert Townsend also will be filmed partly the Reservoir Hill area. Called "Meteor Man," the movie is described as an inner-city fairy tale about a school teacher, portrayed by Mr. Townsend, who is struck by a meteor.

The Eddie Murphy film is a production of Hollywood Pictures, a division of Disney. "It's really the first time Disney has shot here," Mr. Schlossberg-Cohen said.

He said the commission is negotiating with Disney to have parts ofthree or four films shot locally.

Mr. Schlossberg-Cohen said he could not estimate the economic impact of the filming. If the multipicture Disney deal is closed, he said, "We're talking about millions."

Filming at the courthouse will continue through the weekend, Mr. Newman said. A sixth-floor courtroom is being used to depict a federal building in Washington.

Most of the movie is being shot in Washington and Los Angeles, the production official said, and it is to be released around Christmas.

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