Michigan Town Woos Hollywood, but Ends Up With a Bit Part
By LOUISE STORY, NYT
PONTIAC, Mich. — Even the great and powerful Oz could not save the film studio that was supposed to save this town.
The studio, a state-of-the-art facility fit for Hollywood blockbusters, had risen from the ruins of a General Motors complex here. It was the brainchild of a small group of investors with big plans: the studio would attract prestigious filmmakers, and the movie productions would create jobs and pump money into the local economy. A glamorous sheen would rub off on this down-on-its-luck town.
But in Pontiac, happy endings do not usually come Hollywood-style. The tale behind the studio, though, was cinematic in its own right, filled with colorful characters, calls from the White House and a starring role for Michigan’s taxpayers. Rounding out the cast was a big-budget Disney movie, “Oz: The Great and Powerful.”
It all started back in August 2007, when Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm met with Mike Binder, a Michigan-born actor and director who was lamenting the state’s lackluster program to award financial aid — otherwise known as film credits — to the movie industry. Ms. Granholm, an aspiring actress when she was in her early 20s, became determined to make Michigan competitive, she recalled.