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Shooting the Bull podcast: unit publicist David Linck talks "Main Street"

I had a chance recently to ask two of Durham's most senior civic leaders about the revelation that the movie "Main Street" wasn't just shooting in Durham, but that the Bull City was in fact the setting for the story about a purportedly-moribund Southern city that's fallen on hard times.

The fact that neither leader was really certain how Durham would be portrayed was one of those kinda-chilling moments. (Not that, of course, there's much anyone could do about how one's city appears in celluloid. Please see Exhibit A, "Welcome to Durham." I mean, what're you going to do, block the streets to filming?)

Barry and I got to pose the question this week to David Linck, the unit publicist for "Main Street," in Thursday night's episode of "Shooting the Bull" on WXDU:

David's takeaway? Durham's the place where the film takes place -- the pic's original name was "Durham Grill" down to the fictional tobacco heiress played by Ellen Burstyn. But not to worry, it's an uplifting story, and no one really fixates on the place, anyhow. Besides, it's prescient given the bad economy, because we're all suffering with the economy, right? (And "Bull Durham" did show us as a bunch of Southern rubes, anyway, and didn't do much damage.)

Maybe. As I said on air, personally I can't imagine the town of Fargo, N.D. without thinking of bad accents and woodchippers -- so I'll be curious to see just how things look when the movie finds a distributor... something not expected to happen until after Cannes.

Check out the podcast, and see what you think.



Poor Fargo. My wife is from there and we visit her parents there yearly (I'm from outside Minneapolis, where a good portion of the movie took place). Without fail, people bring up woodchippers when they find out where she is from and ask if people really talk like that. They do, including my family members, but with somewhat less severe accents than portrayed in the movie. Fargo is actually very nice; you probably won't get tossed into a woodchipper if you visit. Like Durham, Fargo's downtown is undergoing an impressive resurgence, dontchaknow.

Hopefully Durham's comeback will come across in the movie, though I'm sure not many people besides Durhamites will pay much attention.


If it had been clear the the film was about Durham, and if Durham was going to come off as a dying city, do you think the city should have refused to cooperate with the filmmakers? It seems to me that given what I imagine to be the considerable economic benefits to having a film--any film--made in Durham, that it doesn't much matter whether the movie is uplifting or depressing. I can't imagine that Fargo (which, of course, doesn't actually take place in Fargo) has actually hurt the city economically.


I was hoping for a Kafkaesque thriller referencing the Nifong hoax, but I'll settle for a gritty drama. Keep Durham Dangerous!


For heavens sakes, we live in a democracy in the midst of the free world (finally, after 8 years of darkness). You can't really do a dang thing about how people depict Durham and I don't care anyway - if they depict this as a terrible place to live then people will stay away, which is good. That way Durham can *stay* a great place to live.

Reyn Bowman

People had the same concerns about Bull Durham and Kiss the Girls. Both were hits. You could fear elements of both might result in stigmas but they didn't.

I've read the script. There's a snipe from someone in Raleigh and for some reason a Hazmat team comes from Raleigh which seems odd but Horton Foote was writing fiction. It is uplifting.

As James Patterson was quoted, he used Durham as the setting for a book because when he was here for a convention he thought it was something that would never happen here.

The failture of the feeding frenzy over LaCrosse to have any impact on community image whatsoever and yet the stigmas are Durham are so entrenched in some people in Raleigh tells us something about what does and doesn't create them.

Ray Gronberg

Is "probably" good enough odds when the downside is being tossed into a woodchipper? Just askin'.


I enjoyed this interview and found it very informative. I know Mr. Linck is a publicist, but his love of and respect for the material really came through to me. Loved the discussion of the lyrical nature of Horton Foote's prose and how THAT is the reason these actors wanted to work on this project. I hope "Main Street" sells at Cannes, because I am really looking forward to seeing it.

Kevin Davis

Interesting quote from Elizabeth Shestak's article in today's N&O:

"Firth said Durham's real-life vitality countered a cental theme of the script.

"It surprised me how much this was not a dying town," he said.

When Foote visited Durham five years ago, he was inspired to set a screenplay here after driving down Main Street on a Saturday afternoon and finding his vehicle to be the only car on the road.

The result was "Main Street," the story about a small Southern town that has seen better days -- specifically, tobacco days. When a stranger, played by Firth, arrives with a controversial plan and offers to better the town in exchange for the use of the abandoned tobacco warehouses as storage for hazardous waste, tough decisions must be made in the midst of changing times."



Love Horton Foote, but that is an absolutely ludicrous plot line -- there is not a place in this country, however desperate, that would entertain storing hazardous waste in the middle of the dang town for even 10 seconds. Nor would it begin to be legal. Maybe out in remote fields somewhere -- but right in the middle of a town? I fear these filmmakers have been living in a basement for a long, long time. The age of this screenplay shows. Hope it does not impair the movie's chances.

Patty Highsmith

Perhaps Horton found some inspiration via "Operation Balsam; Or Touch Me Not"...

Tar Heelz

The Handmaid's Tale really scared me away from Durham for a time.

Michael Bacon

... nevermind that even in the movie Fargo, the woodchipper incident doesn't even happen in North Dakota, but in a Twin Cities suburb.


does anyone know where they are shooting this week? I haven't had a single siting yet and the clock is ticking!


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