Uh-Oh in Ohio

We're from Hollywood, and we're here to help.

Helmet Grog Shop, 2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard, Cleveland Heights 9 p.m. Tuesday, November 9, $14, 216-321-5588
Maybe they're mad about the whole presidential-election thing. Whatever the case, some Hollywood types are in town, and they're treating Clevelanders like rubes.

Shaker Heights High recently had to renege on an agreement allowing the producers of The Oh in Ohio, a new movie starring Danny DeVito and Parker Posey, to shoot in its science lab. Administrators were tickled by the fame and the $3,000 payday -- until they discovered that Posey plays a woman in search of her first orgasm.

"We were just told it was Danny DeVito, and he played a science teacher," says Peggy Caldwell, director of communications at Shaker Heights High. But the internet turned up details of the decidedly adult plot. (Caldwell was sent a script, but hadn't read it. Just as well -- it was a cleansed version anyway, according to a production source.)

So the school backed out. "We didn't want to get involved with a movie our students couldn't see," says Caldwell, who apparently believes that kids are still watching Lizzie McGuire.

Then the Cleveland Heights-University Heights District agreed to allow filming. But district spokeswoman Ann Billingsley says the filmmakers faxed over only script pages dealing with the high school scenes. After summarizing the plot for her, Punch could almost hear her blushing over the phone. She says steps will be taken to make sure Heights High is not recognizable onscreen.

On the set -- shooting began last week in the BP Building -- the mood is somewhat tense for other reasons. Left Coasters are eating up the $2.5 million budget, while the local crew is getting a pittance. Production assistants are making $85 per day, well below the more customary $100-175.

Posey's miniature poodle is probably treated better. "It's creepy like you wouldn't believe," says one source. "And it pees on its own blanket."

Cheer up, Charlie
Speaking of films, The Manson Family, directed by Dayton's Jim Van Bebber, opened October 22 in New York, Chicago, and Cleveland.

Note to Northeast Ohio: Even American Splendor premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. And now it's probably gonna stay that way, as only one critic showed up for the local press screening.

Ticket sales haven't been much better. Jay Bliznick, who distributed the film, says Cleveland posted the lowest attendance of the 17 cities in which the movie has played. "Either Cleveland is more conservative than I thought it was," he says, "or [the movie is] appealing more to kids that are buying tickets to Shark Tale and sneaking in."

Punch's theory: Why pay for violent, whacked-out entertainment when Channel 19 serves it up every night for free?

(Don't) be our guest!
The new Disney show On the Record made its world premiere at the Palace Theatre earlier this week. It's basically a staged montage of the studio's most annoying songs, upgraded to exclude the voices of Elton John and Phil Collins.

But is it any good? Dunno. On the Record is off the record. By order of Mickey, critics are forbidden to see the show before November 19. That's just two days before it leaves town.

A Disney spokesman says that when The Lion King premiered in Minneapolis, it played for several weeks before critics were welcome. But that show had an eight-week run.

"They want to have a few performances under their belt prior to having reviewers come in and have at it," Playhouse Square's Steve Citerin says of Disney. Already having your money in their pocket is another small bonus.

Take heart, East Cleveland: Help is on the . . . wait.

The city fell 73 votes short of approving a property-tax increase that would have saved the police force from hemorrhaging officers.

"We need this so badly," says Councilwoman Barbara Thomas. "We're doing budget hearings to find money that can put police on the street." Unfortunately, they can't tap into the most plentiful reserve -- the bank accounts of former Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor, who traded his office for bribes.

Thomas believes that voters bought into embellished tales of how much a "Yes" vote would have cost them. But Eric Brewer, the city's loudest critic, gives East Clevelanders more credit.

"As a citizen, I know Emmanuel Onunwor stole money," says Brewer. "I know that the City Council failed to hold him accountable. To give those same people more money would be the height of insanity."

Votes in the machine
A machine error in suburban Columbus gave George W. Bush 3,893 extra votes.

The mistake came to light when astute visitors to the election board's website noticed an impossibility: With only 638 votes cast in one precinct, Bush led Kerry 4,258 to 260.

As it turned out, the problem was with one voting machine, which was suffering from an unexplainable malfunction -- much like all the humans who voted for Bush.

Upon learning of the Bush-loving machine, Kerry briefly considered retracting his concession, but begged off, worried that it would be viewed as yet another flip-flop.

Hate mail of the week
An anonymous e-mail in response to "Ohio Votes!", the Derf cartoon on October 27: "So, 'one cracker in Circleville, Ohio, will decide the fate of the world'? Could be worse. Could be 'one nigger in Cleveland, Ohio.' Democracky sho be fun, muthafucka."

Attention, shoppers
Ever notice how the woman in the prostitution ads never looks like the one who shows up on your doorstep? Punch recommends a website that will help you avoid the bait-and-switch: the Akron Police Department's "Operation John Be Gone" (http://publicsafety.ci.akron.oh.us/police).

The site is a john's best friend, a pictorial tour of Akron working girls. While none of them resembles Julia Roberts, some do bear a stunning similarity to Lyle Lovett. For your convenience, the site provides the city block where the lady can reliably be found. It also lists her hooker credentials (convictions). All that's missing is a menu of available services and prices.

Bonus round: There is another page that shows pictures of johns, along with their home addresses -- helpful to any enterprising young hooker interested in selling door-to-door.

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