"America's Mayor" Rudy Giuliani's life is being made into a movie, but in the film the former district attorney is less likely to be seen walking the streets of his childhood neighborhood in Brooklyn than the Vieux Montréal.
In other words, the television movie about New York City's most famous politician will actually be filmed in Montreal, Quebec.
"It's an outrage! I'm indignant!" said Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y. "It's the height of chutzpah to do a movie about New York and particularly a story about the mayor of New York claiming to take place in New York when it's taking place in the most un-New York place of all."
The movie, starring James Woods as Giuliani and Penelope Ann Miller as Giuliani's ex-wife, Donna Hanover, is based on the unauthorized Rudy! An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Giuliani by Wayne Barrett and Adam Fifield. The movie, known under the working title "Rudy's War," will be shown on the USA Network in early 2003, according to Les Eisner of the film's production company, Carlton America.
The book, published in 2000, is a scathing look at the former mayor, describing him as a controlling egomaniac who lied his way to the top spot in City Hall. It also lists relatives with connections to the mafia and details Giuliani's extramarital escapades in chapters like "Sex in the City" and "More Sex in the City." The movie version will update the book, cutting in scenes of Giuliani pulling the city together during the Sept. 11 attacks and earning himself international hero status.
The authors could not be immediately reached for this story. Giuliani spokeswoman Sunny Mindel had no comment.
Despite the obvious Big Apple nature of the story, Rudy! will be filmed primarily in the biggest city in la Belle Province. Some shooting will take place in New York City, Eisner said, but only a single day or two of it.
Neither USA Networks nor Eisner would comment on why the movie will be filmed in Quebec, but the Great White North has for years appealed to the American film and television industry. With financial incentives from the Canadian government and a lower cost of doing business, more and more U.S. productions have relocated from places like New York and Southern California to Montreal and Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Montreal Film Commission referred questions about the movie to Eisner.
Estimates put the loss to the American film industry in the billions.
Canada sees it as being competitive. Weiner views it as poaching -- especially when it comes to a movie that's supposedly about the "ultimate" New Yorker who, as mayor, was a big booster of film productions in New York.
"It simply comes to down to when they're looking to make a movie, producers are eager to save money," he said. "But it's a matter of jobs for my constituents, everything from tradesmiths to support actors. They'll fly up James Woods to Montreal, but I don't think they're flying up the catering company that would've worked on a New York production."
New York City Film Commissioner Katherine Oliver said New York remains the top dog when it comes to moviemaking .
"New York offers the most compelling package of incentives in the nation -- to all productions," she wrote in an e-mail. "There is no viable substitute to the city, and our crews are second to none."
Weiner said he is trying to push through legislation that would "level the playing field" between New York and Canada. In the meantime, he's asking New Yorkers to boycott the movie in protest.
"I think it's time for New York to attack," he said. "I think that the main tool we should use to express our concern about this is to not watch these movies or at the very least to critique them as what they are, which is fakes."
In Montreal, native Quebecker Arun Mehra, a 28-year-old sales manager for an export company, said he could see both sides of the issue.
"I can't understand a film about a native New York son being filmed authentically but not in New York," Mehra said. "But the selfish side of me is saying: Great for Canadians!"