Friday, March 28, 2008

Northwest Indiana: The Hollywood of the Midwest!

As I write this, famed actor Johnny Depp is presently 20 minutes away from me, in Crown Point, Indiana. He's filming a movie about John Dillinger called "Public Enemies" and majority of the story happens in Crown Point. It's so cool that the star of "Ed Wood", "Edward Scissorhands", and one of Freddy's victims in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (Oh and he was in some Pirate movie I hear) is like breathing in the same mill polluted air as me! How awesome!

What better time to whip together a list of movies, and even some TV shows, that take place in and/or was filmed in Northwest Indiana, where I call home. For the time being.

1. A Christmas Story
Location: Hammond, IN
They never come out and say it's Hammond (for some reason it's Hohman, which is a street in Hammond. Oddly enough, according to the Wikipedia entry it's "Hulman"), but Jean Shepherd who wrote the book, then the movie, AND was the narrator in the film, is from here. There's even a Community Center named after him. If you have careful ears, you'll hear The Father mention Griffith, Indiana in the beginning, and the cloud of his profanity hangs over Lake Michigan to this day. And yes, there is a Warren G. Harding school in Hammond, pretty close to the Community Center actually.
But oddly enough, it wasn't filmed in Hammond, but Cleveland. Why this was picked, I dunno. But it's cool to know that a story that takes place in Hammond, Indiana is being told for 24 hours straight every Christmas.

2. Original Gangstas
Location: Gary, IN
This was a super trippy for me to see. Because not only does the movie take place in Gary, it was filmed IN Gary, almost entirely. So a lot of the exterior shots I was like "I KNOW THAT STREET! I GO IN THAT STORE! I BEEN DOWN THAT ROAD!!" It was weird. Anyway, we have Fred Williamson to thank for this, who is a Gary native. He came up with this idea about a gang terrorizing the residents of Gary and it's up to Fred and some old friends of his, played by Pam Grier and Jim Brown, to stop them! I can't imagine what the meeting was like between Fred and the mayor of Gary at the time of this filming, which was around 1995.

Fred: Yes Mr. Mayor of Gary. I wanna film a movie IN Gary about a gang of thugs who shoot and kill people, and there's going to be drive by shootings and houses blowing up, along with cars. Oh and throughout the movie I'm going to be bad mouthing Gary and urging all the residents to move out cause it's hopeless to fight against the gangs, until I end up doing it the end of the movie.
Mayor of Gary: YES! That'll help this city's image! Here's 200 million dollars!

Or something like that.

3. Richie Rich
Location: Gary Airport
For those of you not in the know, yes Gary has an airport. And yes, a scene from the 1994 live action movie starring Macaulay Culkin was filmed at said airport. It was probably only a 20 second scene (and not important enough to find any images or video on Youtube) but there's a scene towards the end when Richie (or his parents, it's been awhile) get out of an airplane and the entire family hug. Yes, Macaulay Culkin and two other actors, along with a professional film crew, had to fly to Gary, Indiana to film a 20 second clip of three rich characters hugging. I guess Gary's tarmac looked more believeable or something.

4. A Story On "Unsolved Mysteries"
Location: East Chicago, IN
This was a super big deal when this happened back in 1993. Unsolved Mysteries was seriously filming across the fuckin' street from me! And I didn't even know we had an Unsolved Mystery happen across the street from me! I remember the week they were there. There was this big huge semi truck with UNSOLVED MYSTERIES parked right on my block, and the building they were filming was just always crowded with crew, actors, and, considering this is E.C Indiana we're talking about, drunks.
Anyway, the story they were doing was this. Sometime in the early 80's some super important dude, like maybe the mayor or some city offical, went to some party at The Elks Club, which was across the street from where I lived in 1993. During the party he got a mysterious note saying they know what he's really been up to. This either involved drugs, money, or a girl on the side. The note asked to meet in the empty hallway in 10 minutes. So the city offical does and then some mysterious person he didn't see coming came up from behind and stabbed him to death and the mysterious person left. The identity of the killer was never found out, hence it being a "unsolved mystery", and I'm pretty sure it's still unsolved, knowing E.C police.
And no, sadly, Robert Stack wasn't there. They film his things on a sound stage in L.A. Darn.

5. Quantum Leap
Location: Crown Point, IN
This really shocked the hell out of me. The season 4 premire episode, where Sam and Al get switched and Sam is able to go back home for a little while, which means Al is the one who leaped into another body, takes place in Crown Point, Indiana. In the 1940's no less. Not a whole lot is said about the city, except a scene with Al trying to get into a house and he finds that the door is unlocked, in which he comments "Small towns". And as far as I know, this really wasn't filmed in Crown Point. At least I SHOULD'VE known if my all-time favorite show was being filmed 20 minutes away from me. Not that I could've done much about it considering I was 11 or 12 at the time.
And just to point this out, Sam is from Elk Ridge, Indiana, which is a real town, with a website. I love the images on that page. First the dude in the boat on top, then the pics of the hot chicks with babies towards the bottom. If that doesn't define the state of Indiana, I dunno what does.

6. Some Episode of "Early Edition"
Location: Hammond, IN
Ok, this one is vague on my end. Despite this show being super great and awesome, it's not out on DVD and kinda forgotten by now. To refresh your memories, it was about this dude from Chicago who, with the help of a magical ghost cat, got tomorrows newspaper today. And he uses it to help people out with shit. Well, surprise surprise! They actually filmed this show in Chicago. And at times they'd venture out to Indiana. The only time I can recall them filming an episode in Hammond is when me, Bill, and Bill's Mom drove to downtown Hammond and was at a shooting location. We stood there for like an hour and....nothing happened. Well, nothing much. It was in a section of town that's now abandoned and all we saw was just crew people and some lights. The filming was inside a building. After awhile, we just left. And I never found out when that episode aired. But I just wanted to tell that story.
OH! But my friend Bill has two stories about this show.
1. He was IN an episode of Early Edition! Seriously!! There was an episode where Gary, the main guy, had to pretend to be a substitute teacher at some high school to save a student. So the principal makes Gary teach this class for an hour. And Bill was one of the students in that class. And he was in the front row so like, he was all on camera. It's really cool! I wish this show would get on DVD so I can get some screen images.
2. Bill worked in this hotel/banquent hall place in Hammond and I guess one of the times they were filming locally, the star Kyle Chandler (He was the actor dude in Peter Jackson's "King Kong") stayed at the hotel Bill was working in and got to meet him for a few minutes. Man...Bill gets all the cool stories.

I shook Conan O'Brien's hand! HA!

Ok back on topic. Which is...I'm done. Those were all the films and TV shows I can think of that were filmed in my neck of the woods. I seem to recall hearing something about "Road to Perdition" being filmed somewhere but I can't find anything to back that up, so maybe I'm making shit up. If YOU happen to know any that I forgot, leave a comment!

Thanks for reading!


Eugene B. Bergmann said...

Good to see your comments on Hammond-born radio humorist Jean Shepherd (note spelling). Before he co-created and narrated A CHRISTMAS STORY, his stories were not only published in PLAYBOY, then published in books, but originated in his extemporaneous telling of them on his radio broadcasts (for 21 years on WOR radio in New York, reaching 26 states and syndicated elsewhere). Most people familiar with his career consider his radio work to be his crowning achievement. In 2005 he was posthumously inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, and the only book about him, my EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD! THE ART AND ENIGMA OF JEAN SHEPHERD was published.

Keep your knees loose,
Eugene B. Bergmann

Adam Blank said...

This is an awesome post. I lived in the Hollywood of the midwest, now I live in the actual Hollywood.
Just a couple things that must be said...

1. My father was an extra in Original Gangstas. He's a fireman in the background, putting out a car fire. Original Gangstas was directed by Larry Cohen, the guy who brought us It's Alive, Maniac Cop, and (my favorite) God Told Me To.

2. I might be wrong, but I always thought Jean Shepherd called the town Hohman, as in Hohman Avenue.

3. The guy who was killed at the Elk's Club was Jay Given. He was an attorney and I think he was planning on running for mayor (not like anybody would have beat Pastrick; it took a federal indictment to bring him down). And he wasn't stabbed, he was shot. Most likely by a cop. I believe the prime suspect’s last name was Cardona. Anyway, he failed a polygraph test and quit the police and moved shortly after. Not only were there 8 eye witnesses to the shooting (who all saw nothing), evidence was mysteriously taken from the evidence locker. Somewhere in my vast collection of crap, I have a VHS recording of this episode of Unsolved Mysteries.

Eugene B. Bergmann said...

Yes, Hohman is correct.

Jason Soto said...

Yeah I thought it was Hohman as well but looking it up on Wikipedia it said Hulman. Granted, Wikipedia isn't the most reliable source and you're probably right, just however edited the entry didn't know the proper spelling or something. I'll edit the post to reflect this.

And it's been years since I saw the Unsolved Mysteries episode so a lot of the details was fuzzy. Thanks for clarifying for me.

Dave Yaros said...

Am a big fan of Jean Shepherd, and like his father, a big fan of Oldsmobiles. I even have Jean Shepherd's voice (talking about Oldsmobiles) on my web site! It also has pictures of other deteriorating Gary architecture.

The web site is about the

Ethnic diversity
Past & Present People/Places/Events

of the "Steel City," Gary, Indiana. Of course U.S. Steel is covered, particularly the "World's Largest Plate Mill," the 210 inch Plate Mill. The site gives a thorough and understandable explanation of how steel is made. It also details the tragic story of the 1981 murder of Gary Police Lt. George Yaros. The web site has many photos and does permits users to contibute/participate in a blog.

The web site is Dave's Den

The web site url is

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