The Not-So-Happy Story of A Hollywood Movie Made In Kalamazoo
Showbiz is the stuff dreams are made of, but it can also be the stuff nightmares are made of, too.
More than a few movies have been filmed in Kalamazoo. "Kalamazoo?" came out about 15 years ago and did essentially nothing. You can't even buy it on DVD. But in the intervening years Mayim Bialik has become the biggest name in the cast, although it did have several well-known actors in it. There's a Ben Stiller movie "Flirting With Disaster", with an all-star cast (even Alan Alda and Mary Tyler Moore were in it, and it's a R-rated sex-comedy), that filmed scenes in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, though I don't remember there being any big press about it here. But if you search "Kalamazoo" through IMDb, 118 entries show up.
You have to go back all the way to 1978 for probably the biggest (and maybe, best) movie to have been filmed here. "Blue Collar" was filmed at the Checker Motors factory on the north side, mainly because the Big Three automakers wouldn't let the filmmakers film at any of their factories in Detroit.
When it came out, the movie got great reviews; Siskel and Ebert both gave it a thumbs-up and Siskel even said it was his fourth best of the year.
But it turns out it wasn't a happy set - at all. Both wikipedia and IMDb have trivia that says the three main leads and writer/director Paul Schrader fought constantly and there was plenty of conflict and more than a few physical altercations. It's 44 years later and some of the main participants are dead, but Pryor may have pointed a gun at co-star Harvey Keitel while under the influence of something, and may have hit Yaphet Kotto with a chair. IMDB says all this may have pushed Schrader to a near nervous breakdown and Schrader doesn't have anything good to say about it.
Blue Collar plays on Starz, and you can buy it from YouTube. And for what it's worth, this is a favorite movie of many including Bruce Springsteen.