Art is about to imitate life in Pleasant Grove City.
Film crews for NBC-TV are in Pleasant Grove through Wednesday shooting footage along its Main Street for a pilot film that may be developed into a situation comedy television series.The made-for-television movie is titled "American River." It is about a small town in Washington where "everyone knows and loves each other," according to City Recorder Charmaine Childs. Childs has been working with NBC's location crew making arrangements for the filming.
I tried to get information about NBC's trip to Pleasant Grove from representatives of the network. Emily Kaufman, associate producer for the film, seemed delighted to hear from me at first . . . she thought I was the Brooke Adams who is a movie star. However, when she realized that I was "Brooke Adams, Deseret News reporter," she was not so delighted, or so helpful. She told me to give her a call in May, when she would be happy to tell me all about the movie and when it will appear on TV. Sorry Emily, this isn't the movies.
Back to the script: In the movie, wealthy land developers arrive in the town with hopes of developing the mountains behind it into a ski resort. The developers also want to redevelop the businesses along the town's Main Street into a Bavarian-style village to complement the ski resort.
Sound familiar? It should. Last year, Mark Fuhriman, an associate of the Newheart Institute, approached cities in Utah County with proposals to redevelop them into European-style theme villages, each with authentic architecture, decor and cultural events. He said tourists would flood the valley, and that a half-million visitors per village per year was not unrealistic.
Pleasant Grove, Fuhriman suggested, would make a perfect Swiss-Austrian village - which is close enough to a Bavarian village for me. Fuhriman did not suggest construction of a ski resort on Molly's Nipple or any other mountains behind Pleasant Grove.
Back to the movie: Unfortunately, the town's residents are not excited about becoming a Bavarian village and ski resort, and they fight the takeover attempt.
Back to real life: NBC initially made arrangements with Pleasant Grove to close Main Street during the day and a half of filming. Unfortunately, NBC contacted the city March 23, which meant that the city had very little time to give notice about the filming to business owners along Main Street. By the time business owners were contacted, some already had sent out fliers in preparation for major sales - for the days of the filming, of course.
"The business owners feel they weren't given sufficient notice," Mayor David Holdaway said. "Some have really laid it on me that we weren't considerate."
Holdaway said the exposure provided to the city through the filming would be wonderful. However, Holdaway said the business owners thought the city should have discussed closure of Main Street in a City Council or other meeting that allowed for public comments.
That may be the way decisions are made in real life, but this is the movies, which don't have time for such things as public meetings on whether a city's Main Street should be closed to accommodate a film crew.
Friday, Holdaway said he had been warned about "everything from threats of strikes to acts of civil disobedience" if the city closed Main Street.
"We may end up hauling people off to jail," Holdaway said. "I guess you can't say nothing controversial ever happens in Pleasant Grove."
By Saturday it appeared that at least some business owners had calmed down. Jim DeGroot, owner of V&S Variety Store on Main Street, said he was "disappointed in the short-term notice given" but agreed the filming might be good for the city.
"We are trying to work with them as much as we can," DeGroot said. "Everyone wants them to do it, but we do have some concerns."
DeGroot is one of at least two business owners who has sales planned the same days as the filming. An NBC location director told DeGroot that Main Street will be blocked off only for one-minute intervals during actual filming; however, all parking on the street will be occupied by vehicles being used in the movie. DeGroot said the location director also told him the filming will attract people to the downtown area and actually increase his business.
DeGroot believes NBC should puts its money where its mouth is.
"NBC has a lot of money, and if the filming affects business adversely, they should be willing to cough up the difference," DeGroot said.
If, however, business does indeed increase substantially, DeGroot said he told NBC he would be willing to pay them.
Say . . . now there's an idea for a sitcom: A film crew comes to a small town to make a movie all about how some wealthy developers want to build a ski resort on the mountains behind a small town and also want to turn the town's Main Street into a Bavarian village, but the town's residents don't want to go Bavarian, and end up fighting off the developers. But when the film crew shows up to begin filming, business owners and residents of the real town decide they don't want to be part of show business - unless they are fairly compensated for their trouble - and stage all kinds of acts of civil disobedience that disrupt filming and cause the whole town to take sides over the issue.