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Longleaf is still up for 'Cat in the Hat' role

Remember the Dr. Seuss book about two children - and a straightlaced fish - stuck inside on a rainy day? Moviemakers may decide their house would look good in Pasco County.

By JAMES THORNER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 14, 2002


Pasco County's Longleaf community has been short-listed as a possible shoot location for the new Mike Myers movie based on Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat.

Longleaf developer Frank Starkey said production designers have scoured Florida for a neotraditional community surrounded by outstandingly beautiful countryside.

On the advice of the Florida Governor's Office of Film & Entertainment, which helps scout locations for Hollywood productions, Starkey sent photos of Longleaf, including aerial shots, to Los Angeles this past spring.

On Friday, Pasco tourism consultant Honey Rand said Longleaf was "still in the running" to star in The Cat in the Hat, scheduled to begin production as early as this fall for a summer 2003 release.

One fact working in Longleaf's favor is Robert "Bo" Welch, hired to make his directorial debut on the movie.

In an earlier life, Welch was production designer for the 1990 Tim Burton film Edward Scissorhands. The shoot location for that film: Carpenters Run community in Land O'Lakes.

The producer of the big-budget Seuss film is Brian Grazer, who won the Best Picture Oscar this year for A Beautiful Mind.

The Cat in the Hat, first published in 1957, is one of the all-time most popular children's books. Comic actor Myers will play the cat behind thick layers of makeup, wearing the character's trademark striped stovepipe hat.

In the book, the cat raises a ruckus in the house of two children whose mother has warned them to behave while she is out. The movie version promises to add more characters and expand the setting beyond the walls of the house.

To film the outdoor scenes, Longleaf, a mile east of Little Road north of State Road 54, fits much of the bill.

Begun less than two years ago, Longleaf was designed as a pre-World War II era throwback: houses with front porches, rear alleys and picket fences.

Although Longleaf doesn't have the town square the film scouts seek, it does have a village green capped by a pillared town hall.

Another Florida neotraditional development, the panhandle community of Seaside, starred as the pleasant but sterile village inhabited by actor Jim Carrey's character in The Truman Show.

Starkey wasn't sure Longleaf could match Seaside's appeal as a movie set: "We're not quite as quirky."

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