Barron Christian and the continuing disaster of Imagine That
Turns out Denver has a much smaller role in Imagine That than we originally thought.
As you may recall, three weeks worth of filming for the Eddie Murphy flick took place right here in our Mile High home. And although you can still see a helicopter shot of the city and catch a glimpse of Melo talking to Allen Iverson, many of Denver's scenes were cut entirely, including the sequence in the Brown Palace Hotel's Palace Arms restaurant starring our friend Barron Christian.
According to the Colorado Film Commission, Paramount reshot a version of the scene out in L.A. because they didn't like the film quality (not that the quality of the film in general was anything to applaud). They also cut a scene at a Denver ice rink that was featured in the trailer, because the original holiday release date was pushed back to summer and they figured ice rinks were no longer topical.
Christian, for his part, was feeling big picture about the whole thing. His friends took him to a screening at the Colorado Mills Theater.
"Let's see how much of me winds up on the cutting-room floor," he said in an e-mail to several dozen people, including yours truly. He probably didn't expect to disappear from the thing entirely, and finding out that you've been excised from a movie while you're sitting in the theater with your friends seems particularly cruel.
But, as Christian said to me a few days later in an e-mail, "That is the nature of the film business." He said he was a little stung at first, but the grapevine word that the cuts had nothing to do with his acting made the pill a little easier to swallow.
So, was Christian really in the film at all, or did he just scam us. Two weeks and too many phone calls later, we still have no idea. Apparently, Hollywood employs 400 people whose sole job it is to transfer you from desk to desk. No one has any information.
Several people told me to check the Internet Movie Database, which apparently keeps better records than the companies themselves. Two people told me I couldn't get that information because the people who would have known had been fired.
And my futile attempts to obtain some facts came to a grinding halt earlier this week, when a Denver representative from Paramount called my desk because she had received an e-mail (not one I sent) saying I had some questions. When I told her what I was looking for, which, again, was literally whether or not Barron Christian was on a cast list at some point, she sounded deflated and said "umm" a bunch before telling me she'd have to look into it. I gave her my e-mail address, but I do not expect to ever receive an answer.
So far, Imagine That has earned some $14 million and the ire of the nation's critics. Prompted in part by the beating, Paramount fired Film Group president John Lesher and Production President Brad Weston and laid off dozens of employees. Barron Christian (probably) feels their pain.