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Casting call brings jobs

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Calling the desert a "mini Hollywood" is now truer than ever.

Famed director Steven Soderbergh's up-coming HBO movie about Liberace, 'Behind the Candelabra', will be produced by valley resident and powerhouse producer Jerry Weintraub.

The lights, cameras, and action is all taking place in Palm Springs.

Hundreds of valley residents lined up at an open casting call for the film starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas for a try at their fifteen minutes of fame.

"It's kind of a neat opportunity to be in Palm Springs and be part of filming a movie," Odessa Christiana, who auditioned, said. "I'd rather have the lead role, that'd be much more fun. Maybe this is a start, you never know."

Whether it brings fame to these Hollywood hopefuls or not, it will for sure bring jobs to the Coachella Valley.

"I think it's really important for the community to have work here, in the times we're having right now. This is a really great opportunity for Palm Springs," Christopher Wojcik, who auditioned, said.

The casting director said he expects the film will have locals fill some production positions as well.

"I'm a character actress, and the work is really slow because of the economy and runaway productions going to Canada, going to the midwest," Audry Ruttan, who auditioned, said.

Local producer Chad Vachter said Palm Springs knows its entertainment.

"This valley is really getting in tune with the needs of the film industry that stayed in California," Chad Vachter said.

He said jobs won't stop with this movie, rather the Coachella Valley's involvement in the entertainment industry is on the rise.

"What the city of Indio, the Coachella Valley, and the state of California have done with the Enterprise Zone is allowed us to hire locals, pay those locals, train them for a new craft, and actually get a tax incentive for ourself back," Vachter said. "Places like Palm Springs are lucky because they have that concise look, and movies will come here."

"You can't get that look anywhere else, you can pretend it's Palm Springs, but you have to go there to get that look, and that's something we have going for us," he added.

There is another round of auditions Monday at the Palm Springs Convention Center, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Make sure to bring a three by five picture of yourself.


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