« on: March 08, 2007, 05:29:09 AM »
West Ed Mall lands Hollywood role (2:35 p.m.)
Cast of stars to play in Christmas feature at mall
Elizabeth Withey, edmontonjournal.com
Published: Wednesday, March 07, 2007
The West Edmonton Mall has landed the starring role in a Hollywood feature film alongside actors Ray Liotta and Leslie Nielsen.
A news conference today at one of the world’s largest shopping centres finally put to rest rumours about why the mall’s Christmas decorations are still up in March.
Filming of Christmas in Wonderland will begin in Edmonton on Apr. 16, with the WEM as the main location.
I think the mall is going to be my favourite actor in the movie, if you want to know the truth,” writer-director James Orr said.
The film is scheduled for release in theatres in November 2007 but a six-week actors strike held up negotiations.
Cast members include Ray Liotta, Chris Kattan and Canadian-born Leslie Nielsen of Naked Gun fame. Nielsen will play a police detective in the movie. Other big-name actors have yet to be confirmed but producers said Robin Williams is not, as was rumoured, among them.
Orr, whose writing credits include Father of the Bride, Three Men and a Baby and Sister Act II: Back in the Habit, said the plot of Christmas in Wonderland revolves around a family that moves from Los Angeles to Edmonton. On Christmas Eve, they go to the mall to do some last-minute shopping. The six-year-old daughter (played by L.A. twins) is enthralled by the mall and becomes convinced Santa lives there instead of at the North Pole.
“It’s a magical place, as special to our little girl as Oz was to Dorothy,” Orr said.
Orr said the Mall of America in Minnesota was his second choice for the film location.
“Frankly I think this mall has more character, more heart and soul,” he said.
About 75 per cent of the filming will take place inside the mall, including the Phase Three area near the sea lions’ rock, the waterpark and the underground “bowels,” Orr said. The remainder of the film will be shot in the city.
“I’m the only person in Edmonton who wants the snow to stick around,” Orr said.