It's a B.C. summer of stars and film shoots

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      Vancouver’s film industry has been through a lot of rough patches over the past year: the U.S. screenwriters’ strike, the high Canadian dollar, increased competition from other jurisdictions, and the cancellation of five locally shot TV shows. Now there’s the looming possibility that a Screen Actors Guild strike will also affect production levels.

      In spite of all of these things, the industry has proven that the show must go on. Here’s a rundown of just some of the stars and productions, from both the East and the West, that have recently been in Vancouver or will be visiting our city during the summer months.

      Hollywood and Canadian

      Lower Mainland film buffs and stargazers might want to keep an eye out for who’s holding up the coffee lines or placing extra-special restaurant orders this summer. They might just catch stars like Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, or Amy Adams from Fox’s Night at the Museum 2: Escape from the Smithsonian, which is in production here until September 23.

      Just be careful if it’s Under Siege tough guy Steven Seagal, who could be hanging around after starring in Insight Film Studios’ made-for-TV movie Ruslan, in which Seagal plays a spy novelist who discovers that “the sword is mightier than the pen”—or so says Insight’s press release. In August, the Vancouver production company will also begin principal photography on Tower, a feature starring Mira Sorvino (WiseGirls).

      Martha MacIsaac (Superbad ) will be travelling between Vancouver and Williams Lake until July 18, as she’s taking the lead in Anagram Pictures’ ecological thriller The Thaw, with Val Kilmer (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). MacIsaac plays a student who’s conducting research in the Arctic when a deadly prehistoric parasite emerges from the melting polar icecap. It also stars Steph Song (jPod ), who recently completed filming the comedy-drama Dim Sum Funeral with Russell Wong, Kelly Hu, Bai Ling, and Talia Shire.

      Actor Crispin Glover will be in town, not to film, but as writer-director-producer of the film What Is It?, which will be presented at the Pacific Cinémathí¨que from July 18 to 20.

      Science-fiction fans will have plenty to blog about. The Sci-Fi Channel’s Sanctuary series will be shooting until September 11, starring Stargate alums Amanda Tapping and Christopher Heyerdahl. There’s also a Battlestar Galactica spin-off entitled Caprica that wrapped on June 19. The pilot episode stars Paula Malcomson, who made her mark as Trixie from HBO’s Deadwood series.

      Two more Vancouver productions round out the summer: Waterfront Pictures’ Message Deleted, the third film in screenwriter Larry Cohen’s Phone Booth and Cellular franchise, and Force Four Entertainment’s tentatively titled made-for-TV movie Playing for Keeps. The latter is now in production and stars Jennifer Finnigan (Crossing Jordan ) and Roger Cross (24 ).

      > Sean Minogue
      With files from Craig Takeuchi.


      The last weekend of spring kicked off the summer’s big entertainment season for the South Asian community in the Lower Mainland.

      On June 14, Punjabi bad-boy rock star Babbu Mann took to the PNE Agrodome stage for a “purely Punjabi” concert. Mann ventured into acting, to some acclaim, for his role as a “Sikh radical” in the politically charged film Hawayein. Mann, who has been known to fight with audience members and even the media, told the Georgia Straight during an interview in Surrey that he doesn’t make apologies for his image. However regrettable some of his actions may be, he says, they are a natural part of him, not an act.

      The biggest Bollywood show that will hit Vancouver, however, is the Bachchan family–fronted Unforgettable Tour (August 17), featuring Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan (Sarkar Raj, Bhoothnath), his son Abhishek Bachchan (Guru), and his daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (Dhoom 2 ). The latter has made the jump from being the top Bollywood leading lady to a burgeoning Hollywood career (The Mistress of Spices, The Last Legion) and will be seen in the upcoming Pink Panther 2, starring Steve Martin.

      The Unforgettable Tour will also feature Bollywood stars Madhuri Dixit (Devdas) and Preity Zinta (Dil Chahta Hai ), along with dancers and singers. The GM Place show is being managed locally by Bollywood fanatic, television host, and concert promoter Kamal Sharma of Kamal’s Video Palace.

      “This is going to be the show of the decade,” Sharma told the Georgia Straight. “This is going to be Amitabh’s last show, as well as a farewell tour for Madhuri to her fans. Aishwarya, who is rumoured to be pregnant with Abhishek’s first child, certainly won’t be hitting the stage [again] anytime soon—so it’s certainly going to be a not-miss show.”

      Also recently in town was screen star Dev Anand. See this Movie Note for more on Anand's visit to Vancouver as part of a cultural delegation.

      > R. Paul Dhillon