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'Osage County' producer says state's film rebate program helped lure project to Oklahoma

Writer/producer Grant Heslov has nothing but good things to say about the filmmaking experience he and George Clooney had with “August: Osage County” in the Sooner State.
BY GENE TRIPLETT Published: February 13, 2014

George Clooney and Grant Heslov must have found evenings in Osage County conducive to creativity during their stay in the fall of 2012.

The writing/producing partners finished much of the work on the script for their new, fact-based World War II action drama “The Monuments Men” while on location in northeastern Oklahoma filming the screen adaptation of Sooner-born Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “August: Osage County.”

And Heslov has nothing but good things to say about their filmmaking experience in the Sooner State.

“George and I wrote a lot of this film while we were living in Oklahoma, in Bartlesville,” Heslov said in an interview promoting “The Monuments Men,” at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Heslov has been a production partner with Clooney since 2006 when the two men formed Smokehouse Productions and started developing screenplays together.

The Los Angeles-born producer, director, writer and actor shared his first Oscar nomination with Clooney for Best Original Screenplay in 2006 for “Good Night, and Good Luck,” the well-received biopic on American broadcast journalist Edward R. Morrow. He also shared a Best Picture nomination for the same film with a long list of other producers, co-producers and executive producers.

In 2012, he shared a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination with Clooney and Beau Willimon for “The Ides of March,” and in 2013 he shared a Best Picture Oscar win with Clooney and Ben Affleck for co-producing “Argo,” based on the 1980 U.S. hostage crisis in Iran.

For “August: Osage County,” a drama about an Oklahoma family in turmoil that was adapted for the screen by Letts from his play, Meryl Streep is vying for a Best Actress Oscar and Julia Roberts is competing for the Supporting Actress trophy. The film was directed by John Wells (“The Company Men”).

If Heslov was painfully disappointed that “August: Osage County” hadn't made a better showing in the 86th annual Oscar nominations — which had just been announced that morning — he wasn't really showing it.

“Oh well, yeah, I wish it was (better news),” he said. “Upset? Yeah, upset for John (Wells), and for the film, but ...” He shrugged and didn't finish his sentence.

Oklahoma incentive

Heslov had positive memories of filming in Oklahoma.

“Yeah, it was great,” Heslov said. “We (Clooney and Heslov) would go to the set and then go back to our house that we had and work out lines. And so, for us, it was good. It was some nice, quiet time. I would (come back to Oklahoma) if we had the right (film project). It was certainly beautiful country.”

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