My Town Monday: Movies Shot In Cincinnati

Earlier this month, the George Clooney film Ides of March opened, which excited a lot of locals here in the Queen City. Clooney, a native of nearby Maysville, Kentucky, who also grew up in Cincinnati, used the area for location shooting for the film. After all, much of the action takes place in Cincinnati, and even in the trailer, you can’t miss the Roebling Suspension Bridge or the skyline’s newest feature, Queen City Square.

But this is not the first movie to be shot here. In fact, Cincinnati has had several movies shot in and around the city. If you’re old enough to remember, WKRP in Cincinnati is not the first television series to use the city’s skyline and landmarks in its transition shots and credit sequences. Crime-centered soap opera The Edge of Night (produced by local corporate behemoth Procter & Gamble) used a shot of Cincinnati’s skyline from Mt. Adams to stand in for the fictional Monticello. (Which, it has been suggested, was located in Ohio.)

Getting back to the silver screen, what movies were shot here?

A few of them…

Eight Men Out, 1987: This John Cusack movie about baseball’s 1919 Black Sox Scandal was, appropriately, shot in Cincinnati. Eight White Sox players were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.

Rain Man, 1988: Tom Cruise comes to Cincinnati to retrieve his autistic older brother, played by Dustin Hoffman. There are scenes on the Roebling Suspension Bridge and in the Dixie Terminal Building, which offers a spectacular view from the lobby of the bridge and the Northern Kentucky skyline. Sadly, that view, which I once got to see on a daily basis in the pre-9/11 era, is no longer there. The Banks riverfront development has blocked the view.

Lost in Yonkers, 1992: The Martha Coolidge adaptation of Neil Simon’s play takes place in 1940’s Yonkers. The problem is Yonkers looked like 1990’s Westchester County. So Northern Kentucky, which looks in places like a World War II era town along the Hudson, doubled as Yonkers of Simon’s youth.

Milk Money, 1993: This Richard Benjamin film starring Ed Harris and Melanie Griffith shows a lot of Cincinnati locations, though it’s not really clear if the film is set here. Most of the film was shot in the Mt. Lookout neighborhood, which means I likely delivered pizza to the crew at some point. There are also some great shots of downtown, and the seedy flophouse Ft. Washington Hotel makes an appearance as Melanie Griffith’s “office.” In one scene, Griffith, who plays a hooker, is kicked out of a limo while servicing a businessman in a parking garage. When I finally saw the movie, I realized that I parked in that same garage almost daily in 1997.

The People Vs. Larry Flynt, 1996: The only film on this list not listed on the Chamber of Commerce’s web site. But you can’t tell the story of Larry Flynt without shooting it in Cincinnati. The bar that doubles as the original Hustler Club is actually a quiet fern bar on the corner for Fourth St. and Central Avenue. What happened to the Hustler Club. It and the entire block were torn down to make way for the Aronoff Center.

Traffic, 2000: Michael Douglas plays a prosecutor from Cincinnati named as the nation’s new Drug Czar. Much of action takes place around Cincinnati. Douglas’s daughter in the film, who descends into drugs and prostitution, is depicted as a student at Cincinnati Country Day, which prompted outrage from the private school

Seabiscuit, 2003: This Depression-era tale of the horse racing legend used the retro-looking River Downs along Kellogg Avenue for some of its location shots. If someone could chime in with a comment, tell me if my memory is correct in that Florence, Kentucky’s Turfway also got some camera time in this one.

More at the My Town Monday blog.

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Best of My Town Mondays: WKRP Vs. The Real Cincinnati

The first thing people ask me when they learn I live in Cincinnati is, “Is it really like they show on WKRP in Cincinnati? This was my answer a few months back. – Jim

wkrplogo

20th Television

Ever since I moved to the Queen City, people keep asking me if the city is like WKRP in Cincinnati. The answer?

Yes and no.

Is there a station in Cincinnati WKRP was based on?

Actually, no. WKRP was based on a couple of radio stations producer Hugh Wilson worked for. However…

Retired afternoon drive jock Gary Burbank once described AM powerhouse WLW as “the real WKRP.” Back when Burbank started in Cincinnati as the morning jock, WLW still played music. The station, however, remains colorful enough to be its own sitcom. In fact, current afternoon host Eddie Fingers was once the city’s equivalent of Johnny Fever.

The tower in the opening credits is no longer there. It was originally the television transmitter for WLWT, Channel 5, and torn down five years ago. I know. I watched them take it down from my office back then.

Les Nessman – Yes, the gentle, stuck-in-the-fifties, pinko-fearing nerd was odd, even by Cincinnati’s conservative standards. Still, for several years, Cincinnati was a one-helicopter town when it came to traffic. It now has none since the advent of ARTEMIS. Still, when I first moved to the city in 1991, WLW still ran farm reports during the morning broadcasts. I haven’t heard them since about 1994 or so, but everytime they ran them, I kept thinking of Les Nessman’s hog reports.

Where did most of Jennifer’s boyfriend’s live? Probably in tony Indian Hill (home of Peter Frampton, actually) or ritzy Amberly Village. Though it was never mentioned in the show, Jennifer’s apartment could easily have been in One Lytle Place, downtown’s first upscale condo building.

So what was the Flynn Building? The establishing shots for the station itself were actually of the old Cincinnati Enquirer Building on Vine Street. The building is still there, but the Enquirer moved to a shiny new building on Third Street. As far as I know, Abe Lincoln never set foot in the building as Mr. Carlson said in the episode where they attempted to keep the building from being condemned. In fact, I don’t think the building existed until the 1920’s.

Where did turkeys fly?

(Fox has since had the video of the Great Turkey Drop taken down, the filthy bastards.  Otherwise, you’d be seeing Les Nessman crying “Oh, the humanity!” was about a dozen turkeys fell to the pavement.)

As God as my witness, I thought they would fly over the Tri-County Mall, north of Cincinnati in Springdale. In the show, it was called the Tri-State Mall. Was it actually the Tri-County Mall? Given that the show was in its second or third season when this infamous episode aired, it’s quite likely the writers were trying to sprinkle in some local color.

And finally, what the hell were the lyrics to the end credits?

Um… Well…

I think these are the words.

More My Town Monday posts at the My Town Monday Blog here.

MTM Cincinnati: WKRP Vs. The Real Cincinnati

wkrplogo

20th Television

Ever since I moved to the Queen City, people keep asking me if the city is like WKRP in Cincinnati.  The answer?

Yes and no.

Is there a station in Cincinnati WKRP was based on?

Actually, no.  WKRP was based on a couple of radio stations producer Hugh Wilson worked for.  However…

Retired afternoon drive jock Gary Burbank once described AM powerhouse WLW as “the real WKRP.”  Back when Burbank started in Cincinnati as the morning jock, WLW still played music.  The station, however, remains colorful enough to be its own sitcom.  In fact, current afternoon host Eddie Fingers was once the city’s equivalent of Johnny Fever.

The tower in the opening credits is no longer there.  It was originally the television transmitter for WLWT, Channel 5, and torn down five years ago.  I know.  I watched them take it down from my office back then.

Les Nessman – Yes, the gentle, stuck-in-the-fifties, pinko-fearing nerd was odd, even by Cincinnati’s conservative standards.  Still, for several years, Cincinnati was a one-helicopter town when it came to traffic.  It now has none since the advent of ARTEMIS.  Still, when I first moved to the city in 1991, WLW still ran farm reports during the morning broadcasts.  I haven’t heard them since about 1994 or so, but everytime they ran them, I kept thinking of Les Nessman’s hog reports.

Where did most of Jennifer’s boyfriend’s live?  Probably in tony Indian Hill (home of Peter Frampton, actually) or ritzy Amberly Village.  Though it was never mentioned in the show, Jennifer’s apartment could easily have been in One Lytle Place, downtown’s first upscale condo building.

So what was the Flynn Building?  The establishing shots for the station itself were actually of the old Cincinnati Enquirer Building on Vine Street.  The building is still there, but the Enquirer moved to a shiny new building on Third Street.  As far as I know, Abe Lincoln never set foot in the building as Mr. Carlson said in the episode where they attempted to keep the building from being condemned.  In fact, I don’t think the building existed until the 1920’s.

Where did turkeys fly?

As God as my witness, I thought they would fly over the Tri-County Mall, north of Cincinnati in Springdale.  In the show, it was called the Tri-State Mall.  Was it actually the Tri-County Mall?  Given that the show was in its second or third season when this infamous episode aired, it’s quite likely the writers were trying to sprinkle in some local color.

And finally, what the hell were the lyrics to the end credits?

Um…  Well…

I think these are the words.

More My Town Monday posts hosted by Travis here.