A noted eccentric was recently spotted tromping around the lobby of the Westin Bayshore Hotel.
No, it wasn’t the ghost of Howard Hughes, who stayed there in 1972 when he was on the lam from U.S. tax collectors. It was actor Shawn Doyle, who was shooting a new TV series, Endgame.
Doyle plays Arkady Balagan, a Russian chess champion who turns his “extraordinary skills of perception and strategic thinking to solve crimes that have stumped others.”
Balagan likes to lounge around in his bathrobe, barefoot, which would probably upset hotel guests if he weren’t being pursued by movie cameras. The Bayshore’s marketing communications manager Mitchell Fawcett said guests love it when film crews set up shop.
“Anytime we do filming at the hotel, more often than not guests are excited to be part of the set,” said Fawcett.
“It’s rare that we get complaints. It’s ‘What’s shooting here? What actor is staying here? What’s going on?'”
The Bayshore is Balagan’s home for the series, although it’s called The Huxley. Ironically, the producers didn’t know about the Howard Hughes connection when they started filming.
“It’s a coincidence, because [Hughes] had nothing to do with the choice of the Westin Bayshore,” said Endgame publicist Julia Frittaion.
“People keep thinking that’s why they picked it, but that’s not true. It was the manager that came up and said ‘Hey, this is kind of funny.'”
Endgame will be shown on the Showcase channel in the spring of 2011. The series features Doyle (known for roles in Big Love, Lost and 24), Torrance Coombs ( The Tudors, Jpod), Patrick Gallagher ( Glee, True Blood), Kate Isabelle ( The Good Wife, Sanctuary), Carmen Aguirre ( Tin Man, Da Vinci’s Inquest) and Melanie Papalia ( The Assistants, Intelligence).
Dennis Hopper’s visit to Vancouver in 1979-80 didn’t attract the same press as Howard Hughes, but in local movie lore it’s much more infamous.
The late actor was here to star in the movie CeBe, a dark tale of family strife and murder. The director was gonged two weeks into the shoot and Hopper took over, throwing away the script and improvising.
The movie was shot in the middle of Hopper’s wild years, which meant there was a lot of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll on set. Somehow he managed to put together a movie in the midst of the chaos. Retitled Out of the Blue, after the Neil Young song, it was acclaimed at the Cannes Film Festival but never achieved wide release, and disappeared from sight.
Pacific Cinematheque has located a restored print and will be doing a screening of Out of The Blue tonight at 7 p.m. Several local people who worked on the film, including publicist Julia Frittaion, will be on hand to recount stories from the shoot.
The movie is quite interesting from a Vancouver perspective, with shots of the pre-Expo ’86 city, along with music from Powder Blues and the Pointed Sticks. New Westminster’s Raymond Burr was also one of the stars.
Out of The Blue also screens Sunday, followed on both nights by another chaotic rock ‘n’ roll film, Alex Cox’s Straight To Hell.
Pacific Cinematheque will be holding a fundraiser, A Night on a Film Set, next Thursday, Nov. 18 at the Canvas Lounge in Gastown.
People will be able to make a minute-long silent movie against a green screen, pose with silent film characters who will be roaming around, and chow down on a gourmet “craft” services table. Makeup artist Dena Kent will be on hand to give cosmetic touch-ups, prizes will be given away in a “mystery film can,” and there will be a silent auction that includes the chance to bid on a walk-on role in a new feature, Will.
Tickets are $105 and can be ordered through Pacific Cinematheque at 604-688-8202.
“We need to get people supportive of the Cinematheque,” said local film producer Christine Haebler, who is co-producer of Will.
“It’s just crazy -people don’t understand that it plays such a vital role in our community. It’s the only museum of film that exists in Western Canada. There’s no other cinema like it, that’s showing types of films that would never be shown anywhere else.”