"'The Animal' Unleashed in Sonoma —
Rob Schneider films comedy at City Hall"

by Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 November 2000

Sonoma residents got a whiff of Hollywood when their picturesque town square was used as a backdrop for the Rob Schneider comedy "The Animal." On a very rainy afternoon during last week's shoot, workers at City Hall — doubling as a police station in the movie — noticed an odd smell inside the building. Assuming something was wrong with the heating system, they were about to call the fire marshal when they found out Schneider was burning incense to ward off bad spirits that might be causing the downpour. Not long afterward, the rain stopped.

To prepare for a scene where Schneider catches people painting graffiti, a crew sprayed four-letter words on the side of the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Building next to a park where kids play soccer. "We were flooded with calls from soccer moms who didn't know it was for a movie," said City Manager Pamela Gibson. "We assured them the graffiti would be covered up."

"The Animal" should appeal to the age group of those soccer players. The title refers to an accident victim (Schneider) who is outfitted with organ transplants from various animals and begins to take on animalistic traits. Adam Sandler was so smitten with the story, he signed on as producer. We're surprised he didn't demand to star.

Sandler was rumored to be with the cast and crew, but he stayed out of sight. However, Schneider along with co-stars Colleen Haskell (of "Survivor" fame) and Ed Asner became regulars at Sonoma County restaurants and couldn't have been friendlier to the locals.

©2000 San Francisco Chronicle

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