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Actor Woods visits area to scout film locations <br> 'A long way to go' to work out details

Hollywood actor James Woods is preparing to produce and direct his first feature film, and with luck, much of it could be filmed in Buffalo.

Woods, 62, left town Sunday afternoon after spending three days touring the region with Buffalo Niagara Film Commissioner Tim Clark.

"He's making a movie set in middle America, and he thinks Buffalo would be a perfect place to shoot it," Clark said Sunday evening. "But we have a long way to go . . . a lot of details that have to be worked out."

Woods' connection to Buffalo is his friendship with G. Steven Pigeon, a lawyer and political operative who is the former chairman of Erie County's Democratic party.

"They are good friends, and Steve has been urging [Woods] to make a movie in Buffalo," Clark said. "[Woods] has been to Buffalo before and he loves our crazy city."

A wiry, fast-talking actor known for his portrayals of frenetic characters, Woods has appeared in numerous films dating back to the 1970s. His many popular films include "The Black Marble," "Once Upon a Time in America," "Salvador," "Casino," "Nixon" and "Any Given Sunday."

Woods has said he plans to produce and direct a film called "An American Girl," the story of a young woman who learns much about life after joining the Marines and going to war in Iraq.

According to Clark, shooting on the film should begin later this year.

Looking for possible locations for shooting, Clark took Woods to the Pine
Avenue neighborhood of Niagara Falls, Buffalo's Old First Ward and other places.

During the visit, Woods dined at the Buffalo Chophouse and Chef's Restaurant. He also went to the Buffalo Sabres game Saturday night, met with team owner B. Thomas Golisano and visited with the Sabres in their locker room after they defeated the Florida Panthers.

While it's too soon to predict whether Woods will shoot his film in Buffalo, Clark said it could have a financial impact in the community of "multiple millions of dollars."

"Last year, between movies and television projects, we had $10.1 million dollars of direct spending in Western New York," Clark said. "We're very proud of that."

e-mail: dherbeck@buffnews.com

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