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Va. tourism pitch seeks to capture 'Lincoln' fans

Associated Press Modified: November 15, 2012 at 2:31 pm •  Published: November 15, 2012

Much of the filming in Petersburg was held within a couple blocks of Charlie Rawlings' Dixie Restaurant. He concocted the Spielburger at the behest of one of the filmmaker's aides. It's a variation on the restaurant's signature chili dogs.

"He said he really enjoyed it," said Rawlings, who got the burger's review from Spielberg's aide. The director took the burger on the set.

"I never saw the actors," Rawlings said. "Never saw Daniel Day-Lewis. Didn't see any of them."

The crew, however, crowded into the Dixie regularly, often for breakfast and lunch such as chicken and dumplings and smothered pork chops, Rawlings said. "The crew was wonderful," he added.

In Richmond, sightings were common of Day-Lewis, Sally Fields, who portrays Mary Todd Lincoln, and other actors such as David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones and James Spader, who was regularly seen shopping along Cary Street, a trendy stretch of shops and restaurants.

The movie trail includes restaurants where the stars were seen eating in Petersburg and Richmond, as well as attractions such as Maymont in Richmond. The 100-acre Victorian estate overlooking the James River was transformed into Appomattox for "Lincoln."

"We hope that with the trail people will come and visit Maymont and recognize some of the scenes," spokeswoman Cathie Rosenberg said. Maymont is offering discounts to visitors who want to re-enact a carriage ride Day-Lewis and Field took on the grounds. In Petersburg, the locations include a barbecue restaurant, an antique store and historic buildings. The city is complementing the trail with its own walks re-tracing Lincoln's steps.

The trail will include posters with Lincoln's likeness and the words "Lincoln was here."

Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corp., said the state is "one of the stars of the film" and her office is already seen an uptick in interest from "Lincoln." Spielberg filmed the "War of the Worlds" remake and "Minority Report" in Virginia and he told McClenny "Lincoln" was not his last film trip to Virginia.

"He likes us," she said. "I think it's the whole experience. And he said when he left, 'I'll be back.'"


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