From before dawn until after dusk yesterday I was on the set of the forthcoming Paramount Pictures movie War of the Worlds, starring Tom Cruise and Tim Robbins. It is being directed by Steven Spielberg, with a production budget even greater than Titanic, and therefore is almost guaranteed to be one of the biggest blockbusters of all time. The 1953 adaptation (see imdb.com) of H. G. Wells' classic novel is considered one of the best of the sci-fi cinema genre, so Spielberg's remake has a high standard to meet. I was a humble extra in some of the refugee survivor crowd scenes (which I assume will be digitally multiplied), but I may have been close enough to the camera to be recognizable in the climactic battle sequence. Look for me in a dark blue coat wearing a white stocking cap with a Yankees emblem. Eleven Humvees mounted with machine guns and TOW missile launchers were in that scene, but they lacked armor plating. Someone alert Donald Rumsfeld! The road signs pointing toward the set said "WoW," hence the title above. I was dumbfounded to see the enormous scale of the production around the set, with dozens of big tents, trucks, tractors, trailors, and assorted machinery. A veritable city nestled in the scenic Appalachian foothills! After the filming was over (whew!), the cast of hundreds sang "happy birthday" to Steven Spielberg. I didn't get close enough to see Steven or Tom, but other extras around me did. On the local news this morning I learned that while stopping at a fast food establishment [Dairy Queen], Tom Cruise put $5,000 in the donation jar for a girl [named Ashley who needs costly surgery to recover from a near-fatal accident].
JMU Dukes win Division I-AA title!
Huge congratulations are due to the James Madison University Dukes football team, and their coach Mickey Matthews, for defeating the Montana Grizzlies to claim the NCAA Division I-AA national championship. It was close for most of the game, but JMU pulled away in the fourth quarter, winning by a score of 31 to 21. Finley Field in Chattanooga was in poor shape, as the sod was ripped to shreds by the end of the game.