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Thursday, April 15, 2004 03:55 am

Dream on

art968
Steven Spielberg

The slight buzz of rumors you may hear about Steven Spielberg shooting a movie about Abraham Lincoln is probably a distant dream. Two sources say locations were recently scouted here, but they don't agree on which production company sent the scouts. Spielberg does own the rights to Doris Kearns Goodwin's forthcoming Lincoln biography, but the book isn't even finished yet.

Still, rumors continue to emanate from the owner of a local landmark restaurant that something big is percolating, involving Spielberg.

Brenda Sexton, managing director of the Illinois Film Office, says she hasn't heard from Dreamworks (Spielberg's production company) in several months.

"That project has sort of been on Dreamworks' back burner for years, and every once in a while they give us a call," she says.

And if the movie does happen, it could be years from now. "Spielberg works like five years in advance," Sexton says.

She confirmed that someone was scouting the Capitol for a different project recently, but show biz etiquette prevents her from saying what that was.

"It's exciting," she says, adding that MGM's use of the Capitol in Legally Blonde 2 "went well," and could generate similar opportunities. "We'd love to get another opportunity for Springfield to be a location."

Meanwhile, to keep legislators mindful of the film industry's potential, Sexton has been organizing special advance movie screenings for the pols. Most recently, members of the General Assembly saw Walking Tall, followed by a party at Boone's Saloon underwritten by the Motion Picture Association of America and the AFL-CIO.

"It gives us the opportunity to keep legislators informed about what's happening in film," Sexton says. "It's a good thing for our state, and it brings us a lot of attention from around the world."

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