Forget Hollywood: Three New Cities for Spotting Celebrities

by  Molly Fergus | Aug 26, 2010
Beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida / danindub/iStock

Hollywood, New York City, and even Vancouver and Toronto all claim hard-earned reputations as movie-making hot spots – and therefore as must-visit destinations for hopeful star spotters – but it looks like a rash of new state tax credits for filmmakers  is mapping a completely fresh itinerary for amateur paparazzi.

This month, California announced it has already burned through its $100 million film tax credit for 2011 movies and has a waiting list of at least 45 films. Meanwhile, savvy flyover states have implemented steep discounts to lure Tinseltown execs and boost local economies in the midst of the recession.

The result: Hollywood A-listers (or at least tabloid darlings) are now roaming around Middle America in what could be higher numbers than ever before, and catching a glimpse of the beautiful people doesn’t demand a trip to one of the coasts. Whether you’ve already invested in a camera with serious zooming capabilities or just fancy a chance celeb sighting, we’ve rounded up three new spots primed for star gazing.

Detroit, Michigan
Motown is in dire need of a facelift, and Michigan’s steep 40 percent tax credit for filmmakers looks like a smart recovery step. The incentive has already brought a lengthy list of celebs to the northern state, including David Arquette and his wife, Courtney Cox-Arquette, to film Scream 4 earlier this month; Demi Moore and her husband, Ashton Kutcher, to film LOL in early August; and Neil Patrick Harris to film Harold & Kumar 3 in July.  

Although crews set up across the state, Detroit is a definite hub for star-spotting: Transformers 3, starring Shia LaBeouf, is reportedly shooting in the city this week; Dustin Diamond (of  “Saved by the Bell” fame) will film Tetherball in the metro area in the fall; and Here Come the Hellmans, with Kate Bosworth and Martin Landau, starts work  in the Detroit suburb of Rochester Hills in September.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Lauderdale might be known more for rowdy spring breakers than the glitterati, but with a new, five-year, $242 million statewide tax credit implemented in July, Broward County is making a big push to draw Hollywood to its coast. A new A&E cop drama called “The Glades” brings Kiele Sanchez (from “Lost” and “Samantha Who”) to town, but even before the new incentive program, the city attracted stars like Jennifer Aniston (Marley & Me), Isla Fischer (Confessions of a Shopaholic) and Denzel Washington (Out of Time). 

Cleveland, Ohio
After losing LeBron James to the Miami Heat in July, it only seems fair that Ohio try to lure some new faces to the Lake Erie shores. So far, the film tax credit the state implemented in July 2009 seems to be doing the trick. New York-based Nehst Studios opened a Cleveland office in 2009 and has already secured $11.6 million in loans to film three movies by April 2011, including Cleopatra Smiles, starring Vivica A. Fox, and Stangeland 2, with Dee Snider.

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