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Films focus again on Abe

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Hodgenville’s favorite son tied to two Hollywood projects

By Linda Ireland

Three years ago, we learned that Steven Spielberg planned to make a movie about our Abe Lincoln. The opening was to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the birth of the 16th President.

If you’re a movie-goer, you may have noticed, ahem, no Lincoln movie.

We ran a front page story with photos of Liam Neeson and Holly Hunter reading lines in front of a gathering of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. (Sally Field has since been cast in the role of Mary Todd.) We reported on Neeson’s fact-finding visit to Hodgenville in preparation of the role.

Spielberg delayed making the film for several reasons, including funding. Then, Neeson had to finish the movie “Seraphim Falls,” and later a movie named “Chloe.” Perhaps the biggest reason, though, was the death of Neeson’s wife Natasha Richardson on a ski slope last year.

The movie, based on the book “Team of Rivals,” is back on track and the Internet Movie Database Web site www.imdb.com/title/tt0443272/ claims the movie will be released next year. Spielberg’s production company DreamWorks has been in Virginia looking for a location to film.

Newsleader.com reports a movie crew scouted Richmond and the Shenandoah Valley as early as 2003.

Virginia played a huge role in Lincoln’s presidency – and his history. His family hailed from that area and his cousins still lived there during the Civil War. They fought for the Confederacy.

Made for some interesting talk at family reunions, I’d say.

Spielberg has waited so long to make the movie, he now has competition. Entertainment Daily reported that Robert Redford is working on a Lincoln drama “The Con­spir­a­tor” starring James McAvoy and Robin Wright Penn.

There are differences, according to ED. Spielberg’s Lincoln will focus on the period of the American Civil War and his Cabinet, while Redford’s movie will detail the story behind Lincoln’s assassination.

Penn is slated to play Mary Surratt, the woman accused and hanged for her part in the president’s murder. You might remember her as Jenny in “Forrest Gump” or Buttercup in “The Princess Bride.” McAvoy (Becoming Jane) plays the man who defends her.

It’s too early to say whether two Lincoln movies will bring additional tourists to Hodgenville. But we’ve survived the Lincoln hubbub of the last two years – and received a new town squircle to boot – so we’ll be OK.

Maybe Liam will even return.

We’’ll never know what Lincoln would say about all the hoopla surrounding his birth, life and death, but I did uncover a few Lincoln quotes (I’ve been doing that a lot the last two years) that suits the situation.

“What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.”

And ... “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.”

And my favorite ... “’Well, for those who like that sort of thing, I should think it is just about the sort of thing they would like.”