Postcard from Detroit

As carmakers founder and the jobless rate skyrockets, Michigan's movie industry is the state's lone, surprising bright spot. The Motor City gets ready for its closeup

Ron Batzdorf

Lights, camera, tax break Filming a scene from Betty Anne Waters in downtown Detroit.

Peter Gallagher, the caterpillar-browed actor best known for the TV show The O.C. and films like While You Were Sleeping, is standing on a street corner, cell phone wedged against his shoulder, simultaneously trying to maintain an animated conversation and order a hotdog from a street vendor. Commuters push past him on the sidewalk, and in the background, yellow taxis fight their way through traffic.

It's a picture-perfect New York City moment, and it's only after the director yells "Cut!" that you'd notice that the fa├žade over Gallagher's right shoulder is in fact the 100-year-old Ford Building in downtown Detroit. This...

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