What’s Normal? Downstate reporter asks IFO director at film premiere

IFO director Brenda Sexton made news earlier this month when she attended the “Legally Blond 2” premiere in Springfield. Here’s the story as reported Downstate earlier this month by Doug Finke, statehouse reporter for the Springfield Journal-Register.

Critics may not think much of “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde,” but it has Illinois officials jumping for joy.

Since part of the film was shot in Springfield and it opened last week, it gave officials an excuse to talk up the new tax breaks available to movie companies that film in Illinois. They’re hoping to lure those high-quality film jobs that involve a production blowing into town, filming for a few days and then leaving. Let’s see a show of hands now: Does anyone know a person in central Illinois still employed by “Legally Blonde?”

Anyhow, the head of the Illinois Film Office, Brenda Sexton, held a Springfield news conference to promote the tax breaks. A reporter asked if smaller communities (as opposed to Chicago) might be attractive to filmmakers, prompting this exchange.

Sexton: “Absolutely. Last year, the film ‘Normal’ was made in Illinois, in rural Illinois. I don’t actually remember the name of the town.”

Reporter: “Not in Normal?”

Sexton: “Is there a town here (named) Normal?”

Reporter: “Bloomington-Normal.”

Sexton: “Oh, OK.”

Just in case you are curious, Normal is an HBO production about a man who celebrates his 25th wedding anniversary and then announces he wants a sex change operation. It got fairly decent reviews.

Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin also got in the economic development hoopla by talking about all the extras hired to appear in “Legally Blonde” when it filmed in Springfield last December.

Let’s see now, extras were paid about $100 a day. At most, they were used for three days. From what we could tell, about 99 percent of them were current state workers or lobbyists who took a couple of days off from their regular jobs to play in the movies.

So basically, the movie production provided a chance for the already employed to pick up a few bucks that, for many of them, probably amounted to little more than chump change. At least that’s clear now.