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by Ted S. McGregor Jr. & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & 've been watching for months. When would End Game hit theaters? As an editor of a local newspaper, I need to know when a filmed-in-Spokane movie is going to debut. So for more than a year, I'd been checking the Internet for clues. Release dates of Fall 2005, then January 2006 were pushed back. I figured the studio bigwigs were just trying to figure out the best weekend to release their thriller.


It was more than just another story to follow, however. This one's personal. For an entire Sunday in March 2005, Inlander HQ was taken over by the gang at North by Northwest, the local producers of the film. While I relocated to a nearby office, plugging away at yet another Best of the Inland Northwest issue, Angie Harmon took over my desk. As I typed away and watched the Steadicam operator wait around between takes, I wondered: Would our moment of vicarious stardom wind up on the floor of some back-lot editing studio? Or would our office space be immortalized on film?


So I was a little confused when I checked a couple of weeks back -- my first check-up in a couple months -- and there it was: In May, End Game went straight to DVD.


Of course I had to rent it.





It all starts with the President giving a speech -- at Gonzaga University! I'm not giving too much away to tell you that he's shot -- by Patrick Treadway! It's fun that way -- checking out the Spokane scenes that made it into the movie. Burt Reynolds shoots skeet in the backyard of Waikiki; James Woods works in the Tom Foley Federal Building; Angie Harmon looks fashionable in Carnegie Square; some of Anne Archer's paintings looked a lot like Ric Gendron's; and Cuba Gooding Jr. gets in a wicked car chase under the skywalks.


Then, early in the movie, there it was -- our world headquarters in all its newspapery glory. Angie Harmon works her laptop on my desk, talking to her hard-bitten editor, played by Benito Martinez. In the film, she's the Washington Inlander's ace reporter, trying to figure out who really killed the president. And there she is, reciting those lines I'd heard her recite a few dozen times. Up in the background is the painting of Diamondhead my parents bought on the beach in Hawaii years back; another angle shows my lithograph of a kilted MacGregor clansman.


Then there's the rest of our crew -- lots of our staffers volunteered to be extras for the day's shoot. You can see Mike Corrigan's head for a second, then it gets hidden by Martinez's elbow.


It all took me back to how Hollywood works -- people arrive and set up what appears to be several truckloads of equipment and then do a lot of waiting. First-time director Andy Cheng showed up; his wife and baby daughter dropped by later. Then came the stars. I chatted up Harmon's makeup artist and her personal assistant. Harmon left some of her fake business cards for the Washington Inlander, and I still have the "sides" she hid in my drawer -- the lines from the script she was using. When she was arranging my desk to look authentic, she pulled out my Johnny Cash CD to put on the top of her stack of papers -- she's from Texas, you know.


I did talk with Martinez, who's typical of a lot of Hollywood actors -- working a lot but still trying to break into the upper echelons. He flew up for the day and was riding high with a recurring character on The Shield and a small part in Million Dollar Baby. He was a cool guy, but he neglected to tell me, as I later found out, that he voiced Man #2 in Scooby Doo and the Monster of Mexico. I loved Man #2!


Behind every minute we see on the screen, there are hours of hard work. After a long day, they packed up the last of their gear, and wandered out of the building, bleary-eyed.


That's when I found out they were headed over to Heroes & amp; Legends to shoot some more.





& lt;span class= "dropcap " & A & lt;/span & ccording to imdb.com, the takeover of MGM by Sony pushed End Game out of a national release. But it may be just straight-to-DVD material. Angie Harmon was game and the stunts were cool, but Cuba Gooding Jr. sleepwalked through his scenes and the ending still has me scratching my head. I will say North by Northwest's production was very good -- if you can get past the idea that Spokane's ponderosa pine landscapes and empty streets are supposed to be in Washington, D.C.


Nobody's going to see this one in an actual theater, so I'm left to hope that maybe -- just maybe -- somebody will invent a drinking game to go along with End Game. You know -- every time you can identify a Spokane landmark, you have to take a swig of your Pabst. That way, every time Angie Harmon says, "Kate Crawford with the Washington Inlander," people will have to drink.


And that's immortal enough for me.

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