Ed Coen, the boys' dad, was an esteemed and respected colleague of mine at the University of Minnesota, a proudly identified Jew on our campus.
Coen brothers considering Milwaukee instead of Minnesota for film set in St. Louis Park, Minn.
By SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. - First Johnny Depp came to Wisconsin. Could the Coen brothers be next?
Fresh off their Oscar wins for "No Country for Old Men," the film-making brothers Joel and Ethan Coen are scouting Milwaukee suburbs for a movie to come out in 2009, said Scott Robbe, director of the Film Wisconsin office.
Minnesota Film and TV Board director Lucinda Winter announced in September that the movie would shoot in Minnesota, the filmmakers' home state.
But Winter later warned that unless the Legislature approved a $500,000 incentive, the Coens could look elsewhere.
Wisconsin may be where they land with the film "A Serious Man," a story set in their hometown of St. Louis Park, Minn.
The film's producer, Bob Graf, has requested photos and other information from the Film Wisconsin office about possible locations in north Milwaukee suburbs, Robbe said. The Coens have not visited Wisconsin, he said.
The filmmakers are probably comparing both sites and the incentives being offered, said Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, chairwoman of the state arts board.
Minnesota would provide a 20 percent rebate if the Coens spent more than $5 million in the state and possibly a $500,000 payment, should a bill working its way through the Legislature pass.
Graf said in April that the $500,000 would improve the state's chance of landing the film but it's not a lock. He did not immediately respond to an e-mail sent Friday seeking comment.
Winter said her current understanding was the film was still being shot in Minnesota.
"I have not heard that they're not shooting here," she said.
The fact that the Coens are also looking at Wisconsin is not surprising and just shows they are doing their due dilligence," Winter said.
Robbe said Wisconsin's incentive plan, which gives a 25 percent tax credit for qualifying film production expenses, would add up to more than Minnesota's offer.
Wisconsin's tax credit helped lure Depp's "Public Enemies," which has been filming across the state since March. The movie is expected to generate about $20 million for the state's economy.
Robbe said he hasn't heard from Graf in a couple of months, but he expects a decision on where the film will be shot soon. The fact that the Coens are considering Wisconsin shows that the state is gaining a reputation as being film-friendly, he said.
The Coens won Oscars this year for writing and directing "No Country for Old Men," which also won best picture.
Their next film is "Burn After Reading," which is set to open this summer. That is to be followed by "A Serious Man," tentatively scheduled to open in 2009.
"A Serious Man" is about a Jewish college professor during the 1960s. According to the online entertainment journal FilmJerk.com, the main character is bedeviled by children who lift his wallet, a wife who wants a divorce, an intense graduate student and a neighbor who sunbathes in the nude.
Following up the Depp movie with a Coen brothers film in Wisconsin would be "my dream come true," Lawton said. "This would be nothing but good for us in Wisconsin."