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Philly passing as Cedar Rapids? I don't think so

Center City is a popular place for filmmakers, but not often as actual setting.

First, Robert DeNiro sauntered into town last May along with a brigade of New York City taxis and turned Market Street into Manhattan’s Eighth Avenue for a movie.

Then NBC’s “Friday Night Lights” television series came to North Philadelphia for scenes in its upcoming final season. But they have renamed Temple University as Braemore College.

Now, the quirkiest change of all comes courtesy of a movie trailer for comedy “Cedar Rapids” — which hit theaters last weekend. The two-minute promo includes an aerial shot of Center City that includes landmarks like the Philadelphia Art Museum and City Hall as the voiceover declares it as Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“It gives Cedar Rapids more credit than it deserves, I think,” said Nate Anderson, who first noted the gaffe on his blog One Rude Dude. “Conflating it with Philadelphia is not exactly flattering [for us].”

To movie critics, Philadelphia’s use as a faux setting isn’t anything new.

“It costs a lot to shoot in L.A. or New York City. Canada, for a while, was the popular place to go,” Dave White of Movies.com said yesterday. “Shreveport, La., is hilariously standing in for L.A. in the new movie ‘Battle: Los Angeles.’ It’s not hard to do when you take a city which a lot of people don’t know what it looks like.”

But, he said, mistakes like the “Cedar Rapids” trailer can be memorable.

“Jackie Chan’s ‘Rumble in the Bronx’ was shot in Canada and I remember during one scene, I was laughing because there was a mountain in the background. Where is there a mountain in the Bronx? They count on people not paying attention.”

More than just name value

Sharon Pinkenson of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office said she applauds filmmakers shooting in Philadelphia — even if the city doesn’t get the credit.

“I love it. I think it’s great because what we really care about are the jobs. They’re employing our local people and using our local businesses,” she said.

Philadelphia is a popular place to shoot thanks to lucrative tax credits. “We get plenty of films that are set here,” she said.

 
 
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