Duluth News Tribune columnist Chuck Frederick recently wrote a piece about the Duluth Eskimos and a screenplay called “Leatherheads.” (I would provide the link, but the DNT only allows free access to its stories for 7 days and the story ran on 11/18. ) About 15 years ago two Sports Illustrated writers, Rick Reilly and Duncan Brantley, drafted a screenplay about the long-forgotten, first Minnesota NFL franchise, the Eskimos. Reilly and Brantley’s script focused on the rugged early days of professional football. It took place in the 1920’s and was set in Duluth, with some scenes in Chicago.
Over the years the script has been reworked many times for various stars and directors and now it’s resurfaced again with George Clooney set to direct and star, along with Renee Zellweger. It was recently announced that the film will be shot in North Carolina.
I’m sure the North Carolina setting has economic advantages and will allow a early spring shooting schedule. Several reports are crediting North Carolina’s film production tax incentives as the key reason the film will be produced there. It’s also possible that the latest version of the script sets the action in another city. Still, I find it frustrating when films that are clearly set in Minnesota are shot elsewhere. Other recent examples include Miracle and Aurora Borealis, both shot primarily in Canada.