"'Animal' Filming Begins Monday"

Sonoma Index Tribune, 26 October 2000

On Monday, "The Animal" comes to Sonoma — and filmmakers say that rain or shine, the cameras will roll.

"We're going to start, we just don't know where," location manager Molly Allen quipped Wednesday, on hearing of next week's rain forecast. "My life depends on The Weather Channel when we're filming."

"The Animal," produced by Adam Sandler, stars Rob Schneider as a well-meaning but bumbling police officer who receives various animal-organ transplants enabling him to "run like a cheetah and swim like a dolphin," Allen said.

Next week's shoot, scheduled for Monday through Friday, will include a partial closure Wednesday and Thursday of First Street East and East Napa Street at Sonoma Plaza.

The latter will feature an Earth Day fair in First Street East, over which Schneider bounces — aided in real life by a crane — in pursuit of a suspected purse-snatcher. The swearing-in of Schneider's character, as well as a press conference and miscellaneous dialogue, will be shot at City Hall — which will be gussied up Monday as the Elkerton Police Station.

Elkerton is the name of the film's fictional setting. Sandler is not expected to take part in the filming.

Other sequences will be shot on First Street West, just north of Eraldi's Mens Wear. Allen said inclement weather shouldn't interfere too much with filming, since the crew will also have alternate, indoor locations.

Filmmakers estimate some $540,000 will find its way to area coffers during the five-day proceedings, including $175,000 for hotels and restaurants, $75,000 in locations fees, and $100,000 in construction and set dressing.

In addition, they are donating $50,000 toward compensating any businesses affected by the shoot, depending on verification through a reimbursement committee chaired by City Manager Pam Gibson.

Hoping to offset anticipated losses, and to make the $50,000 available for community organizations, Gibson is asking residents to "start your holiday shopping early."

"If you generally purchase items on the Plaza, or even if you don't, do it on those days," Gibson said. "The last time the city experienced a 'windfall,' notices went out to Sonoma Valley-based nonprofits for one-time-only grants for specific projects or equipment.... Come downtown, enjoy the filming, and 'Shop Sonoma.'"

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