I was in the office kind of late on Friday but didn't mind a bit, since I was watching a scene from a compelling new series starring Chris Noth. It's not out yet. It's not even finished yet. What I was watching was Noth rehearse a scene from "Manhunt: The Unabomber," a Discovery channel project in the works. It's about the hunt for domestic terrorist Ted Kaczynski.
The script called for scenes filmed at a newspaper printing press. Kaczynski, who killed three people and injured others during his mail-bomb campaign, sent his rambling manifesto to the New York Times before he was captured. For Discovery's purposes, the AJC's printing press fit the bill. Other areas in the building were suitable for various other scenes.
I wasn't allowed to film the filming but it was cool watching Noth, in his role as Unabomber Task Force supervisor Don Ackerman, get ready for an on-screen press briefing in a conference room where I've sat through meetings and training sessions. The series also stars Jane Lynch as the late Janet Reno, who served as Attorney General during the Unabomber era (she filmed her scene elsewhere) and Sam Worthington as FBI profiler Jim Fitzgerald.
The series, due out later this year, isn't the AJC's only instance of semi-stardom. "Baby Driver," the Sony Pictures thriller starring Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx, not only filmed in Atlanta but also is set here. The movie about a getaway driver for a crime boss called for a newspaper front page reporting the on-screen bank robberies, and production folks got in touch with us for the job.
A mocked-up AJC was created in consultation with the paper's marketing department to ensure an accurate representation, although if you dwell on it for more than the second it appears on screen it'll be clear it's not the real deal. The center front-page headline, "Are brazen heists in the hub linked?" sounds like something we might run. The right-hand side headline reads, "Today's news: school donations." Not sure that one would write up to 1A, as we say.
Razzle dazzle aside, it's a point of pride for our newspaper to play a bit role in the big and small screen projects. Noted AJC editor Kevin Riley: “When filmmakers use newspapers in their work, it shows how important the written word is to our society. Nothing makes something more real, factual and believable than when a newspaper reports it.”