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Tuesday, Sep 18 2012 08:36 AM

Hollywood in Tehachapi: It's hard to keep a secret in a small town

Related Photos

A California Highway Patrol officer and private security guards were on hand last Friday near the scene of shooting for a Warner Bros. film near Tehachapi. Photo by Matt Martz

Best known for its sweet-smelling apple orchards, towering mountain vistas, giant wind farms, and inventive stretch of railroad track that makes the most diehard train enthusiast swoon, Tehachapi has added one more inclusion to its repository -- Hollywood hotspot.

Although their presence and whereabouts were cloaked in a veil of secrecy, many residents identified the stealthy movements of film crews as they crept into the city, maxing out capacities at local hotels, and hanging out in neighboring watering holes and eateries.

So why the big hush-hush?

While it's true that any filming that occurs within the County of Kern requires a permit, which is a public document, a ruling from the Kern County Counsel's office states that location filming is considered a temporary job siting and is bound by the confidentiality under Economic Development Law according to Joanie Haenelt of the Kern County Board of Trade.

"We are bound by the California Government Code of Economic Development not to disclose location sites without the consent of the production company," Haenelt said in a statement issued last Friday.

"They do not wish that any information be divulged at this time."

However, it didn't take long before gossip circulated as snooping stargazers spotted Hollywood's elite around town, and at Western Wind Energy just off Cameron Road, where crews were busy setting lights, and positioning cameras into place for that familiar call of "action!"

A member from the production unit, who did not wish to be named, also told the Tehachapi News, "The film, produced by Warner Brothers is part of a billion-dollar grossing trilogy of a 2009 American comedy film, co-produced and directed by Todd Phillips."

It's still unofficial, but the word circulating around town is that the film is "Hangover III." And the presence of actor John Goodman at a Subway restaurant in Tehachapi on Friday seems to confirm the all around town chatter as the comedic actor is known to be signed for the film.

According to the website eonline.com, the third film in the Hangover series that starred the "Wolf Pack" actors -- Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Justin Bartha -- was shooting in Pasadena earlier this month. Heather Graham, who was in the first film but not Hangover II, is in the cast, as is Goodman.

Entertainment websites have been reporting on the anticipated filming and report that other cast members will include Ken Jeong, Jeffrey Tambor, Gillian Vigman, Sasha Barrese and Jamie Chung.

Mike Tyson will play himself and what has been reported about the plot is that it includes scenes in Las Vegas and Tijuana and a road trip -- making the scenes being shot in the hills around the windmills and adjacent desert areas make sense.

A presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with Legendary Pictures, "The Hangover Part III," is set for release in May 2013, according to entertainment websites.

scheduled for release beginning May 24, 2013, will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Celebrity sightings

Posting on Facebook, Tehachapi resident Aileen Barker reported seeing Goodman.

"No one wanted to say anything," she said. "It was so funny. As soon as he walked out everyone in the restaurant started talking about him."

Russell Miller reported on Facebook that he saw movie people at Red House BBQ; Diana Mckelvey saw someone who looked like the character Alan (Galifianakis) inside Trader Bo's and

"We said, 'hi, Alan,' and he waved, but we just thought it was a guy who looked like him, so we didn't talk to him," she said.

And Brittany Carrington said she thinks her husband saw "Alan" too.

"My husband said he saw a dude who looked exactly like Zach Galifianakis walking up Tucker," she said. "That was before we heard (about the filming), now we know it really was him!"

Highway impact

Besides the wind farm, other areas that will be used for the project, include a seven-mile segment of Highway 58 east of Tehachapi between exits 165 and 172, as well as Inyo-Kern Airport.

There have been unconfirmed reports that a hangar in Mojave is also being used by the film crew.

According to Edward Smith, Public Information Officer for the California Highway Patrol in Mojave, no road closures are expected, but motorists can anticipate minor delays in travel as the CHP runs traffic breaks in that area on Sept. 23, and 24.

On location in Tehachapi

Tehachapi has been the backdrop for many films over the past seven decades, including John Ford's 1940's classic, The Grapes of Wrath, season four of the hit television show Endurance, and more recently for a commercial shoot in March for the 2013 Dodge lineup.

The filming of that commercial in downtown, brought thousands of dollars to the community. (Although the commercial was never aired).

So, it's no surprise that following a shoot for Pacific Gas and Electric in Bear Valley Springs in June, Tehachapi will once again be the setting for another corporate TV ad.

Filming at ostrich ranch

Cooper Tires will begin filming a commercial beginning today at Indian Point Ostrich Ranch in Cummings Valley.

"What I currently know is that the shooting will take two full days with a crew of 13 to 15 people," founder of the ranch Joel Brust said. "I was told that the technical staff will be staying an additional day or so to obtain various stock footage."

Brust also said his nephew David Brust will be telling a story for them on camera.

"David has already met the director and line producer when they were here last Friday," he added."They had him sign a standard Screen Actors Guild contract."

Television crews at Indian Point are becoming as familiar as the birds themselves, as this marks the second time in the past 12 months the ranch has been turned into a set, after last September's shooting for a television pilot for the A&E Channel.

Economic impact on Kern County

In an interview with KERO channel 23 earlier this year, Haenelt said the county issues between 20 and 25 film permits per month.

That's good news, as funds poured into movie production have had positive impact on our local economic situation. Funneling in $19 million in economic value to Kern County in 2011, and $9.6 million within the first five months of this year.

Locally, the most visible evidence of the filming is full parking lots at area hotels and motels -- including trucks with Warners Bros. logos on them.

Restaurants have also benefitted from the filming. Although meals are served on the set, a number of crew and cast members have already been seen exploring Tehachapi's offerings.

Haenelt said the production company asked for information about the area and she provided 200 copies of the Kern Board of Trade's visitor guide as well as 200 copies of the Tehachapi Visitor Guide, published by the Tehachapi News.

She said the economic value of the filming will be calculated when it is complete, and stressed the importance of leaving the film people alone while they are here so the area will be recognized as film-friendly and production companies will return here in the future.

CLAUDIA ELLIOTT contributed to this report.

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