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Attention musical gormandizers!

Savannah-made film to immortalize legendary CBGB club

POSTED: May 30, 2012 10:46 a.m.
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Alan Rickman - of 'Love Actually,' 'Dogma,' 'Sweeney Todd' and, of course, Harry Potter fame.

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Emblazoned in red letters on the off-white awning outside of 315 Bowery in Manhattan was the name of the club inside: CBGB. Hilly Kristal named the place for the type of music he intended to present there: Country, Bluegrass, Blues.

As CBGB became famous as the low-rent birthing place of numerous cutting-edge rock ‘n' roll bands in the mid to late ‘70s (none of which played much country, bluegrass or blues), photos of that awning started appearing in the media. And there, under those famous initals, were more initials: OMFUG. According to Krystal, this stood for Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers.

A gormandizer is one who enjoys overeating, gorging, stuffing his or her face. In Kristal's view, fans of good music could never get enough, and they would, he predicted, be "uplifted" by the gourmand delights of CBGB.

The club was operational from 1973 to 2006. From the beginning to the end, CBGB was, to put it kindly, a hole in the wall. It was just another undistinguished brick house in the East Village.

But it's where the Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith, Television, Talking Heads and a dozen other acts got their start. American punk, and what came to be called New Wave, gestated on the dank stage of Hilly Kristal's stanky nightclub.

He brought in New York bands that couldn't get gigs anywhere else, and in the process helped change the landscape of American music. His only caveat was that they play originals only. No cover bands.

The original CBGB awning is now an exhibit in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Savannah doesn't look a whole lot like the Bowery in the 1970s, but it's here that Unclaimed Freight Productions will shoot the majority of its movie CBGB, starting June 25.

Although the interior scenes will be filmed on soundstages inside Meddin Studios, a yet-undisclosed downtown location will shortly be made over as the famous CBGB location, awning and all.

Written by Randall Miller and Jody Savin, CBGB will star British actor Alan Rickman as the New York-born Kristal, who died in 2007.

Rickman was in the cast of both Nobel Son and Bottle Shock, two of the husband-and-wife collaborators' earlier films.

Miller, who will direct, is co-producing along with Savin and Brad Rosenberger, a music industry veteran.

(Savin was a producer on Savannah, shot here during 2011.)

Rickman's first high-profile role was as the chief terrorist in Die Hard (1988), the Euro-trash Hans Gruber. He was the first bad guy to go up against Bruce Willis' John McClane.

His other, best-known films include Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the cult comedies Dogma and Galaxy Quest, and the beloved all-star British Christmas treat Love Actually. He had his throat cut by demon barber Johnny Depp in Tim Burton's take on Sweeney Todd.

Still, Rickman is recognized and loved the world over as Severus Snape, the dark and mysterious Hogwarts professor in the Harry Potter film series.

Casting announcements are coming fast and furious out of Hollywood. There'll be more this week.

Thus far, these actors are confirmed for the Savannah shoot:

Rupert Grint. Yes, one of Rickman's Harry Potter co-stars, Ron Weasley himself, will portray Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome.

Malin Akerman. The Swedish-born actress (Wanderlust and the upcoming Rock of Ages) has been signed to play Blondie singer Debbie Harry. Akerman recently replaced Lindsay Lohan as Linda Lovelace in the troubled bio-pic Inferno.

Joel David Moore. The long, lanky thespian played Dr. Norm Spellman in Avatar, Gordon in Shark Night, and was a regular on the TV series Bones. In CBGB, he stars as long, lanky singer Joey Ramone.

Julian Acosta as Johnny Ramone, the punk pioneers' guitar player. The Puerto Rican actor is best known for his appearances on TV series The Defenders, Franklin & Bash, The Mentalist and Dirt.

Stana Katic. She plays Det. Kate Beckett on the ABC crime series Castle, and appeared in a handful of films including the James Bond thriller Quantum of Solace. Her character is the outstanding singer Genya Ravan, of the band Ten Wheel Drive. Ravan also produced the first Dead Boys album, Young, Loud and Snotty.

Others in the cast include Richard De Klerk (Repeaters) as CBGB soundman Taxi; Josh Zuckerman (Sex Drive) as Punk magazine creator John Holmstrom; Ryan Hurst (Sons of Anarchy) as Mad Mountain; and Estelle Harris (Estelle Costanza from Seinfeld!) as Kristal's mother, Bertha.

We wait with bated breath to see who gets cast as David Byrne.

 

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