News & Politics

Lights, Camera, Washington

Washington is ready for its close-up in these summer movies.

By Ruth Samuelson

Oscar-nominated actor Don Cheadle was in town in mid-June for the premiere of his latest movie, Talk to Me. The biopic—about local 1960s activist and radio personality Petey Greene—attracted radio and TV attention as well as some 500 attendees to DC’s Uptown Theater.  

“It’s a very good movie, very interesting,” says Uptown manager Michael Hubbard, who was helping oversee the red carpet most of the night. “But I was only there for pieces of it.”

A DC native, Hubbard was a young kid when Greene was on the airwaves. “I probably wasn’t really listening to Petey,” he says. But a lot of the movie’s music brought back memories.

Talk to Me comes out mid-July, a year after part of the movie was shot here. It offers a different view of the city than most locally set films—meaning there probably are no spaceships launching laser beams into the White House or plots to infiltrate the Pentagon.

The District is no stranger to Hollywood. In the last five years, DC has hosted 79 major film and TV projects. In the previous five years, only 48 projects were shot here, according to the city’s Office of Motion Picture and TV Development. Most are forgettable. (Here’s a reminder: Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde, Collateral Damage, The Sum of All Fears, and xXx: State of the Union.) But a few, such as Syriana and TV’s The West Wing, won accolades.

Here are upcoming movies filmed partly in DC. Maybe some will do us proud.  

Evan Almighty. Steve Carell stars as Evan Baxter, a recently elected congressman. His lofty goals change when he’s summoned by God (Morgan Freeman) to build an ark, Noah-style. Local girl Lauren Graham—she grew up in Arlington and Great Falls—also stars.

Live Free or Die Hard. Bruce Willis plays New York cop John McClane in the fourth installment of the Die Hard series. This time the villain wants to wreak havoc on the country’s computer infrastructure. Opens June 27.

Transformers. Another blockbuster summer movie series is born? That seems to be the idea. General plot, according to the movie’s Web site: “Our world will be transformed on July 4 when aliens make Earth their final battleground . . . . As forces of evil seek the key to ultimate power, our last chance for survival rests in the hands of young Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf).” The film won Best Summer Movie You Haven’t Seen Yet at the recent MTV Movie Awards. Opens July 3.

Talk to Me. Former convict turned outspoken DJ Petey Greene becomes a man of the people in tumultuous 1960s Washington. Apparently, at some point, he may also have stolen a spoon from the White House. Opens July 13.

The Bourne Ultimatum. Amnesiac Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) still doesn’t entirely know who he is, but he’s trying really hard to find out. The search leads him to Moscow, London, Paris, Madrid—and presumably Washington. Scenes were shot here in April. Opens August 3.

The Invasion. More aliens attack our city. Why does this keep happening? This time we’re plagued by a strange extraterrestrial epidemic. When her son is infected, a psychiatrist (Nicole Kidman) must search for a cure. Daniel Craig also stars. Opens August 17.