Actor-director pursues Hollywood dreams here

Published September 18, 2006

Don't cast the Tampa Bay area in the role of minor moviemaking market. Jim Fitzpatrick thinks you're short-changing the region's tinsel town prospects.

Fitzpatrick is a 47-year-old writer, director and actor (he's had minor roles in such films and TV shows as Armageddon and ER). He recently completed a horror flick shot locally, Belly of the Beast. Only costing $325,000 to make, Belly sold to distributors for $2.6-million.

Hot off that success, Fitzpatrick has been handed a larger, multimillion-dollar checkbook to direct two more features in Pinellas County. National Lampoon's The Last Guy on Earth will feature a slacker who awakes to find himself in a post-apocalyptic, all-female world. The mostly X-chromosome cast could include Maria Conchita Alonso, Yasmine Bleeth and Delta Burke. Soulmates, tentatively starring Mandy Moore, is about two star-crossed singer-songwriters who realize their destiny together.

Fitzpatrick aims to make the bay area a minor Hollywood. He plans to build a three-soundstage studio in Seminole, his hometown before he sought fame in California.

"It's coming. I can feel it," the former football player for Seminole High School said. "We're about to bust out."