Movie emerges with new name

February 18, 2013
Frank Johnson, director of the movie “Amazing Racer” - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Five years after being filmed at various locations in Washington County, the movie “Shannon’s Rainbow” pulled a disappearing act worthy of Greta Garbo.

There was a solitary screening of the girl-and-her-horse drama at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in spring 2009, but then, after that, “Shannon’s Rainbow” vanished like a pony from a barn where the door had been left wide open.

After its half-decade in limbo, “Shannon’s Rainbow” has been resurrected with a new title, “Amazing Racer.” It had its official big-screen premiere last month at the Loew’s Waterfront multiplex in Homestead, at roughly the same time it was released to DVD. “Amazing Racer” is also available on-demand and online.

Written by KDKA-AM radio host Larry Richert and John Mowod, son of radio host and founder of the Pittsburgh Jazz Society Tony Mowod, the cast of “Amazing Racer” includes Daryl Hannah; Louis Gossett Jr.; Julia Roberts’ brother, Eric Roberts; Scott Eastwood, son of Clint Eastwood; and Claire Forlani, who starred opposite Brad Pitt in “Meet Joe Black” in 1998.

The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in North Strabane Township and the nearby Meadowbrook subdivision are among the sites in Washington County that figure prominently in the $4 million movie.

“There was a legal problem,” said Frank Johnson, the director of “Amazing Racer,” talking about the movie’s lengthy spell on the shelf. The movie is the first full-length feature to be directed by Johnson, a 60-something veteran of second-unit work in movies and directing work in series television. Far from being deterred by the morass of litigation “Amazing Racer” stumbled into after filming was completed, Johnson would like to return to Washington County to film another movie, a college-centered thriller called “The Genesis Project.” He’s in the process of raising money for the movie, which he would like to feature Richard Dreyfuss. Johnson has tentatively penciled in spring and summer to make the movie, and he envisions it being one of several movies that could be crafted in the region.

“This is a good spot to build a movie empire,” Johnson explained. He cited favorable tax incentives that are available, the varied topography and the possibility of teaming up with the Washington Community Arts and Cultural Center to offer filmmaking classes.

“There’s a lot we can do,” Johnson said, noting that he envisions making both feature and documentary films in the area. “We would use a lot of locals in every capacity.”

Brad Hundt came to the Observer-Reporter in 1998 after stints at newspapers in Georgia and Michigan. Brad holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from George State University in Atlanta, Ga., and a master’s in popular culture studies from Bowling Green (Ohio) State University. He has covered the arts and entertainment for the O-R, and also worked as a municipal beat reporter. He now serves as editorial page editor.

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