The real Hollywood North

by Janet Smellie
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 31/97) - It's no rumor now. The town of Iqaluit is quickly becoming Hollywood Baffin.

With scouting crews and casting directors in town, this spring's shoot of Glory and Honor, a Turner Broadcasting made-for-TV movie is quickly becoming the main topic of conversation in this Baffin Island community.

Glory and Honor will revisit the rigorous yet successful 1909 trek to the North Pole by explorer Robert Peary. But instead of focusing on Peary, the film will tell the story of Matthew Henson, his assistant.

Brandy Brooks, a publicist with Turner Broadcasting Network (TNT) in Atlanta, says crews are busy casting the movie now, both in Iqaluit and down south.

"They're busy in pre-production. There isn't a date yet set for filming, but it will air in 1998 on TNT (Turner Network Television)," Brooks said.

While some rumors are circulating that the film will star Samuel Jackson, who recently played opposite Mel Gibson in Ransom, Brook's says Henson's role has yet to be cast.

Alain Carriere, the president of Iqaluit's Chamber of Commerce, says that, while Iqaluit has served as the scene for many a movie, people are definitely excited over this production.

"In the last 10 years there's been quite a number of movies made here. Certainly from a chamber perspective we have certainly been aggressive in persuading movie people we've got a good location, and all the services they would need," Carriere told News/North.

"I figure they'll leave about $1 million in the local economy. They'll be utilizing all sorts of services from dog owners, vehicle renters and construction companies," Carrier says. "We definitely hope to become the next Hollywood North."

But according to one Iqaluit businessman, Iqaluit's already there.

"Movie-making has a long history in Iqaluit. White Dawn was made here, Paul Newman's Quintet, movies with Richard Chamberland and Rod Steiger. Map of the Human Heart -- even the worst movie ever made (Shadow of the Wolf) was made here," Bryan Pearson said in an interview from his local cinema, Astro Theatre.

"These movies offer an enormous boost to the economy. But will we become the next Hollywood North? I think we're already there."

The community's also hearing rumors that major scenes from Endurance, a multi-million-dollar movie now under review by Tristar Pictures, will also be shot in Iqaluit.

It will revisit the life and times of Shackleton, an early South Pole adventurer. Tristar publicists in Toronto did not return calls.