Film scouts ride into county ahead of Civil War series


Film scouts are scanning the county horizon, searching for the most authentic sites to shoot Civil War scenes.

Communications director Micki Smith toured Uniontown, New Windsor and Harney recently with the production manager of "Killer Angels," a four-hour miniseries that will air on Turner Network Television.

Most of the shooting will take place at the battleground in Gettysburg, Pa., but some will be done elsewhere. "We were looking for a small town to replicate the time of the battle 130 years ago," said Smith. "We need to re-create smaller and less grandiose homes of the era."

Based on the 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel written by Michael Shaara, the film focuses on the three-day Battle of Gettysburg.

"We expect it will set new standards in authenticity and scale for television historical drama," said Allen Sabinson, senior vice president of original programming for the network, in a news release Friday.

The production manager thought Uniontown just might fill the bill, Smith said.

"I am hopeful," said Smith. "If I had to make an educated guess, I would say the town has about a 50-50 chance."

If Uniontown is chosen, the crew would arrive in mid-August to shoot three scenes, with about 1,000 "soldiers."

"There's an arrival and an exodus," said Smith. "There is also a scene where soldiers pick up supplies."

Charles Fox, deputy director of the Maryland Film Commission, said the movie has been in the works for several years, since director Robert Maxwell purchased the rights to the book and wrote the script.

"Those involved have been trying to get this project going for years," said Fox. "Funding has been quite a struggle."

The recent popularity of the Civil War documentary on PBS may have given the project the boost it needed, said Fox.

"That documentary reawakened a great interest in the Civil War, the only war on our soil," he said. "TNT went for it."

Misty Skedgell, publicist for the Atlanta-based network, said actual cast members will number about 100.

"Re-enactors and background artists will number in the thousands," she said.

The station plans to air the film in 1993, possibly around the July anniversary of the battle, she said.

Actor Tom Berenger has been signed to play Confederate Gen. James Longstreet. Skedgell declined to say which other actors the network was pursuing. Fox said Oscar winner Robert Duvall was being considered for the part of Robert E. Lee.

Smith said she expects a decision on the site as early as next week.

"Right now, trees are hiding the power lines," she said. "We can't have BG&E; trim the trees and expose the lines."

Whether the cameras come to Carroll or not, county businesses will be helped by the production, said Smith. Many crew members will be staying in motels here, patronizing restaurants and shops.

"Movie making helps the economy of any surrounding community," said Fox. "We are trying the best we can to attract films to the area."

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