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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Baraboo's Circus World

On Wisconsin: Sauk County could have been a star


Harold “Heavy” Burdick has worked at Circus World Museum for 36 years and will appear in the upcoming movie “Water for Elephants.” The wagon behind Burdick will be restored and the fictitious Benzini Bros. name will be removed. The museum received $350,000 for its participation in the film, which opens nationwide Friday. CRAIG SCHREINER – State Journal

BARRY ADAMS

April 19, 2011

BARABOO - When the Benzini Bros. Circus train steams across the big screen Friday, Wisconsin will be well represented, but the state could have had a starring role right along with Reese Witherspoon and teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson.
That's because the movie's director, Francis Lawrence, wanted the love story, "Water for Elephants," based in a 1930s circus in upstate New York, to be as historically accurate as possible.
In 2009, Lawrence spent time at Circus World Museum here, studying photographs, films, costumes, documents and circus wagons.
He also got a feel for the topography of Sauk County, which is similar to that of the rolling hills of upstate New York.
At the time it appeared to Steve Freese, executive director of Circus World, that Wisconsin had a reasonable shot of being the backdrop for Lawrence's movie, which is based on Sara Gruen's best-selling 2006 book.
Freese had visions of a circus parade filmed in downtown Baraboo and of scenes shot at Circus World using the old railcars on the grounds. The big top and midway could have been on the sprawling land at the nearby decommissioned Badger Army Ammunition Plant.




This photo of a Depression-era circus will be among the images from Circus World that will appear in the movie “Water for Elephants.” The movie makers studied some of the 80,000 photos owned by the museum for guidance on how to accurately portray circuses from the 1930s. CRAIG SCHREINER — State Journal
But any chance the state had of landing the movie was erased when later in 2009 Gov. Jim Doyle eliminated a state-funded tax credit program for movie makers. So, much to the chagrin of Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, who supported the tax credit program and had been working to persuade Lawrence to film here, Lawrence took his show on the road and filmed in Tennessee, Georgia and California. The mountains of Southern California were erased during the production process and digitally replaced with a backdrop that looks pretty much like Wisconsin, Freese said.

Steve Freese, executive director of Circus World Museum in Baraboo, would like to see a film tax credit reintroduced in Wisconsin. CRAIG SCHREINER – State Journal

"It was just a lost opportunity," said Freese, who served in the state Assembly as a Republican from 1991 to 2007. "It would have brought an enormous investment into the state.
"READ MORE AT: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/article_a875d6ca-68ff-11e0-ba14-001cc4c002e0.html


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