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In My Opinion

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Thank you, Hollywood, for letting us pay your way

By Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn writes television and radio commentary for The Charlotte Observer.

We realize a few of you still have misgivings about this absolutely fabulous idea to convert the old Eastland Mall property into a snazzy complex featuring movie studios, a luxury hotel, retail destinations and a giant beanstalk stretching high into the clouds.

Fear not. This is going to be a smash hit.

We Hollywood types understand that you rubes in the sticks often lack the intellectual girth that is so essential in recognizing an ab-fab opportunity like this. So we will explain it slowly.

To review:

•  Fabulous idea.

•  Smash hit.

•  Gullible bumpkins.

What you have is a big, ugly pile of retail rubble on the eastside. What we offer is a glittering, gorgeous movie studio that will transform the district into a tourism magnet rivaling Paris, Vegas or – in terms you might understand – Dollywood.

Once the studios are built, producers from afar will converge on it like filings to a magnet, goblets to a toast or – in terms you might understand – hogs to the trough.

Yes, yes. We’re aware there are already modern studios aplenty in Wilmington, but they lie on the edge of a vast, dirty ocean. If there’s one thing that attracts movie makers, it’s inland locations convenient to amenities such as Sugar Creek. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

Already North Carolina embraces the boffo value of catering to here-today, gone-tomorrow producers and the incredible riches that are spun off. In its wisdom, the state gives us a 25 percent tax break on our business (no, not on your business, of course, because you’re simply not Hollywood).

This tax deal absolutely ensures that we’ll keep coming for at least centuries into the future, or until South Carolina offers a 26 percent discount, whichever comes first.

All you need to do to reap the enchanting bounty of our presence is to fork over 80 acres and about $25 million in grants. Have you ever heard of a better bargain for Charlotte?

People will soon call you Cinema City. Children will nag their parents to cancel the Disney trip and come thither to your studio paradise. Think of the thrill of rubbing elbows with Ryan Gosling and Anne Hathaway as they whisk to work aboard the streetcar.

You are so fortunate we have discovered you. This is your big break. We’re going to make you a star.

Just remember to give us the money. We’ll take it from there.

Remember, we’re Hollywood. We’re ab-fab geniuses in creating magical illusions.

Washburn: 704-358-5007
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