CUMBERLAND — Big screen actor William H. Macy has agreed to appear on the Maryland Public Television “Our Town” production featuring Cumberland and Frostburg, which is being filmed and will air in March.
Macy’s many movie roles include the character Jerry Lundegaard in “Fargo,” which brought him an Academy Award nomination. Macy graduated from Allegany High School in 1968. This past March, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“Getting Bill Macy was beyond our wildest dreams,” said Rick Lore, an MPT vice president. “The show will open with him talking about growing up in Cumberland. We’ll close the [hour-long] show with him as well. Producer Steve Smith will fly to L.A. on Oct. 28 to interview Bill.”
The “Our Town” series is unique in that filming is conducted by the residents of the city being featured. MPT fine-tunes the raw footage. The first two cities featured were Chestertown and Hagerstown.
The third wave of residents with cameras is now out and about, not only in the Queen City, but in Frostburg as well. Filming will continue into October.
MPT had originally planned to televise the show in December, but ran into backlogs.
“We decided to do it right, rather than do it fast,” Lore said.
Filming thus far, according to Lore, includes the Great Allegheny Passage and trail users on it, Friday After Five in downtown Cumberland and a number of theater/arts subjects.
Dave Williams of McClarran & Williams, a Cumberland-based advertising/marketing firm, is seeing the production from both ends.
“I’ve been interviewed, and now I am one of those with a camera interviewing others,” Williams said.
Williams has identified individuals whom he considers to be the go-to person in their profession or a vocation.
“They are the masters of their craft and they can tell the story of Cumberland,” he said.
Examples Williams gave without revealing names include an attorney and a historian. Williams said he asks each to talk about his or her greatest fear and greatest hope for Cumberland’s future.
“We’re not Reston [Va.],” he said. “We’re not Columbia. We are a vintage city in the middle of the woods. The challenge for us is to point out what is special about us now. We’ve got something here, a spirit, that you can’t manufacture.”
Frostburg resident Gary Horowitz, a member of the MPT Foundation, said most of the $39,000 needed for the production has been acquired.
“We know the money will be there,” Lore said. “So we decided to start production rather than miss the summer filming season.”
Smith will cull the hours of footage into the final product.
“In Hagerstown, they got 70 hours of footage to work with,” Horowitz said.
An effort will be made not to date the show so that it may be used for years to come as a promotional and economic development tool for the cities and county.
The “Our Town” programs have a long shelf life, Lore said, with repeat showings. The Cumberland/Frostburg version will also air on West Virginia Public Television and WQED in Pittsburgh.