I just read probably the most disturbing story i’ve ever seen in the Times Free Press. It wasn’t about a horrific crime or unfortunate situation affecting our community. No, this was a bona fide “news” story covering the clandestine arrival of Harrison Ford to whichever hotel was boarding him for his brief business trip to the Noog.
The story, as printed, included the details of Harrison Ford walking into a hotel—carrying some of his own luggage mind you—and heading straight for the elevator bank. The article went on to report the actor “declined comment along the way, not wanting to publicize his stay at the hotel.” So what does the TFP do? Publicized his stay at the hotel. Regardless of the actor’s privacy, this was news that needed to be reported.
I can see the editors of the paper now, gathered around the city desk smoking pipes as they planned their angle towards this historic, Pulitzer-potential news story. “We can’t send a cub reporter, he’d just freeze up as soon as he lays eyes on Han, I mean, Indiana, I mean, Harrison.” Then another chimes in, “We’ve got to send someone who can relate to a man of that stature. You know, our own success story who can maybe even build a rapport with the actor—and get the scoop!”
The seasoned reporter they ended up sending also interviewed two older female fans waiting in the lobby, likely tipped off somehow as to the exact location and approximate arrival time of the A-list thespian. Maybe even bribes were involved, no telling, but they were ready with questions they planned to ask Ford should he decide to have a seat and enjoy some complementary lobby coffee with them.
According to the article, “There he is!” was all they were able to exclaim as he quickly moved through the lobby. The elevators must have been really close to the front door. Meanwhile however, at that very moment, I was having a drink with a set designer on the project.
Among other little tidbits, she revealed that Ford was only scheduled to appear on set for seven days—total. His part, although key to the box office success his star power can attract, didn’t require him to shoot for more than a day here and there in the several cities slated for locations. He must be a first-take kind of actor.
With these facts in mind and doing the math, we realized that Ford must be pulling in just under $2 million per day for his part in the project. We also surmised that his limited appearance in the film likely meant he’d be gracing the Noog for a total of say, 36 hours. That’s a far cry from the local news media’s reporting for the last several weeks that, “Harrison Ford is filming a movie in Chattanooga!”
The excitement that ensued from the media’s initial battle cry enticed literally thousands of people to quit their jobs or at least take vacation time and wear suits in the burning sun for 12 hours a day at Engel Stadium. For weeks I’ve been scratching my head wondering how they were able to actually get so many people to drop everything and volunteer their time for days on end just to say they were a speck in the crowd in the baseball field scenes of a major motion picture. I mean, get a life people. Really! I’ve got a bridge for sale if you’re interested.
I get that the weeks of filming have done wonders for our local economy, which is the best part of the whole thing. It just amazes me how so many here in Mayberry can be duped into giving up several days of their time just so they can say they were in a film they’ll have to pay $10 to go see—just like everyone else. But hey, it just goes to show that—like Harrison Ford—once you’ve been in the movies everyone will surely wanna shake your hand.
Chuck Crowder is a local writer and general man about town. His opinions are just that. Take what you read with a grain of salt, but let it pepper your thoughts.