• HOW MUCH? Report: Tennessee Taxpayers Finance Male Hooker Film

    The movie “Boulevard,” opens with its star, Robin Williams, driving aimlessly at night until he finds a male prostitute.

    The movie was filmed in Nashville in 2013 and cost Tennessee taxpayers $302,000. It’s now available on DVD and streaming services, after a limited theatrical release in July.

    Williams’ character, Nolan, picks up the male hustler, Leo, and drives him to the Drake Motel.

    That’s about all the Nashville viewers are going to get in terms of familiarity. The motel, by the way, appeared in a 1993 River Phoenix movie.

    As we reported, officials with Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development gave producers the money for “Boulevard” in exchange for filming in Nashville. Officials sold it as a branding opportunity for the city and state.

    But the movie never references the city, and the words “Nashville” and “Tennessee” don’t appear until near the end of the closing credits, where the producers thank ECD and Republican Gov. Bill Haslam for their cooperation in making the film.

    In the movie, Williams’ character, a closeted gay man married to a woman, stops short of a physical relationship with Leo, but he still develops a reckless and unhealthy emotional attachment to him. In the process, Williams’ character risks his job, his marriage and, later, his physical safety confronting Leo’s violent pimp.

    Williams filmed “Boulevard” in the summer of 2013, a year before his death. A Nashville film festival screened the movie for the first time last year, but “Boulevard” did not immediately find a distributor.

    WHERE THE STARS STAY: The Drake Motel is perhaps Nashville’s only recognizable icon in “Boulevard,” despite having already appeared in a River Phoenix film, “A Thing Called Love,” in 1993.

    ECD officials told Tennessee Watchdog the film would have “very obvious shots of the Nashville skyline,” as we reported.

    But those shots failed to make the final cuts.

    Producers filmed some scenes downtown but late at night, making things hard to make out.

    Eagle-eyed viewers may recognize one of Nashville’s main downtown thoroughfares, the intersection of Church Street and the George L. Davis Boulevard, in front of Interstate 40.

    In the film, though, that area is depicted as a place for prostitutes and male hustlers to congregate while waiting for johns.

    ECD official Clint Brewer said last year state officials reviewed the script and knew in advance the film would depict these type kinds of characters. The film is indeed tasteful, despite its mature content.

    But many in a conservative, red state such as Tennessee probably won’t approve of the film’s content, nor would they want it splashed all over a tourism brochure.

    And they almost certainly wouldn’t want their tax dollars paying for it.

    So why did this film get all this money when the movie does nothing to promote Nashville or Tennessee and could have easily taken place in any U.S. city?

    The producers reportedly told state officials they would spend $1.2 million in the state while filming.

    ABC’s “Nashville,” despite its own racy content, also films on location in exchange for taxpayer dollars — but at least that show markets the city.

    To make amends, perhaps state officials can allow Tennessee residents a free viewing of “Boulevard.”

    After all, they paid for it.

    This article was courtesy of Contact Christopher Butler at Watchdog.org 


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