Clooney, movie crew to film in Annapolis


ANNAPOLIS - George Clooney will be in Annapolis this week filming Syriana, a movie about the CIA's war on terrorism.

The actor and crew are scheduled to set up shop in a conference room in the James Senate Office Building during working hours Tuesday and Wednesday, said Victoria Fretwell, public information officer for the Maryland Senate.

"They've been very accommodating," Fretwell said of the crew, adding that filming will not interrupt legislators' schedules.

"There'll be some trucks parked, but it's not going to stop the flow of traffic in any way," she said.

Asked why the production unit chose the state capital, Fretwell said. "They were looking for a conference room and ours fit the bill."

The film crew moves to Annapolis to film the conference room scenes after shooting in Baltimore's Guilford neighborhood last month.

Clooney, star of the films Ocean's 11 and O Brother Where Art Thou, is expected to be on hand for shooting. The movie, based on Robert Baer's book See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism, is being directed by Steven Gaghan and is slated for release next year. The movie also stars Matt Damon, Greta Scacchi, Chris Cooper and Amanda Peet.

"We're just trying to shoot our movie and get out," said Rob Harris, unit publicist for the movie, who declined to comment on the Annapolis visit.

The Maryland Film Office also declined to comment, though Hannah Byron, director of Baltimore's Division of Film, Video and Television, said the crew intends to continue filming in Baltimore for a couple more weeks.

Howard Sinder, a salesman at Johnson's On the Avenue who had heard about the Clooney stopover, said he hopes for a slight business boost due to filming.

"We're not basically an impulse shop," he said, to the backdrop of $60 ties, $125 belts and jackets on sale for $450 at the Maryland Avenue haberdashery.

Regardless, he said, "It's fun. My wife is a big fan of Mr. Clooney's, and she'll probably be standing outside in the crowds."

Down the street at City Dock Coffee, barista Mona Bustard said she hopes for even more production visits, particularly near her shop.

"There's a lot of filming in Baltimore, and all my friends who work up there say the business goes through the roof ... anything that brings more business to Maryland Avenue is definitely a good thing."

Film crews can make residents apprehensive, however.

Kelly Richard, owner of The League of Maryland Craftsmen on Main Street, had not heard about the shoot, but said when film crews arrive, "It does affect traffic in the area ... that in addition to construction doesn't necessarily help us."

It's not the first time Annapolis has been temporary home to Hollywood. Chris Rock filmed part of his comedy Head of State in the State House, and the television series The West Wing filmed at nearby St. Anne's Church in May.

Fretwell said she met with IMAX representatives Friday to arrange the shooting of a film about early American history in the Old Senate Chambers.

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