Friday, March 21, 2008

Bank Bandits at Columbus Get Half-Million

Samantha Bulgerin is a huge crime buff and found this little tidbit from the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune article from Sept 21 1926.

Click to enlarge

I took this photo last Monday of Emily an Extra and did some playing around.

Thanks Emily
I wonder if Universal knows how lucky they were with the Columbus shoot. Four months of hard winter with not only record snowfall but a snow event every three days.

Then Universal comes to town, melting starts and for two weeks we have basically clear weather. They finish the Columbus shoot and the VERY NEXT DAY "Snow...heavy at times...with thunderstorms possible. Snow accumulation of 8 to 13 inches."

I do what I can! I could only hold up the weather dome for so long.

For anyone near The Set. Did they get the cobblestone up in time? I'm certain the city can not plow and the faux cobblestone was pretty heavy already WITHOUT a foot of snow on it.
I'm mention in Vanity Fair. In Bryan Burroughs blog titled "Another Side of Celebrity Worship" he compared ME to Diane Sawyer and Anderson Cooper . . . well sort of!

He writes ". . . . . little Diane Sawyers and Anderson Coopers as they snap and blog away. There’s a fellow named Rod Melotte in Columbus, Wisconsin, where they’re filming most of this week, who, I swear, has forsaken his day job to post around the clock."

OK - let me make one thing clear. I took vacation days! My boss has already fired me for the weather (a golfing tee time issue - I go though this every Tuesday) so now I'm working on Plan "B".

In Mr. Burroughs puts the internet hubbub into three groups "film fans, who argue and interrogate one another on the IMDB movie site; Wisconsinites, for whom Public Enemies has been front page news for weeks; and, especially, the legion of Johnny Depp fans"

I believe my little group of 6000 friends is a mixing of all three groups - sort of a blogging whopatooli. What started off as a Wisconsinites PE blog got the IMDB groups attention when somebody mention they wished ALL movies had this kind of excitement. Then the first Johnny Depp photos arrived and all hell broke loose.

If he thinks he was surprised look at it from my point of view. I had been writing a blog for three years, every day (almost) and had nice little orderly following. Nothing special, just my twisted view of the world.

All of a sudden I'm writing articles for The Isthmus (here and here) getting emails from Japanese Movie magazines asking for help, getting called for interviews from two TV stations and worrying about pleasing 6000 daily readers hitting the blog 10,000 times a day! Then there is that little photo book project in my mind and I also want to help the Columbus Historic Landmark and Preservation Committee get a book together.

And while doing all that I have to consider helping my very new friend Fatima Nasiru from Abidjan, Ivory Coast who has Ten million,five hundred thousand United State Dollars. USD ($10,500,000.00) left in fixed suspense account in one of the prime bank here in Abidjan.(Her wealthy cocoa merchant father was poisoned by a business associate) .


So yesterday I received an email with Media Event as the headline. Not sure what it was but I figured I should take this offer up. After all the Lt Governor will be there.

I arrive and follow three TV News teams into the Colonial Carriage Shop. I stand there and they look at me like I'm some sort of vagrant. I stand my ground.

The Lt Governor is getting miked up and I'm the only still camera in the place. I'm sort of shoved to the right and out of the way of The Big Boys! Lt. Governor Lawton makes a wonderful speech and answers questions and all goes well. I snap some photos but there is a problem. Right behind the Lt Gov is a horse head.

99.99% of the citizens of Wisconsin would think nothing of this. However I'm afraid that 0.01% will think this is some sort of covert political statement. I'm conflicted. The TV guys have the best spot in the house. I'm stuck with a horses head!

Nancy Osterhaus, the Mayor of Columbus is present and gives the key to the City to Mrs. Lawton. I wonder what it can open and is there more then one key? What of the Fire Department needs it!

I snap some photos of the handing of the key ceremony and Nancy points at me and says "I want a copy of that".

It is at this point when the entire world realizes I'm there and everybody looks at me for the first time. GULP! I feel like smiling and waiving but resist.

A few more photos and all relax. Kate who has no last name (the name Kate comes from Greek origin and means "pure" . . . in case you were wondering) looks at me and says "and who are you from" (or something on that order).

The jig is up. I'm screwed. Lets see, there are now five TV crews and one blogger in the house. Which one does not fit.

BUT WAIT. I have 6000 unique readers every day. I promote Columbus, I promote the movie and instead of having to watch a news piece because . . it's ON TV, people come to the blog ON PURPOSE!

I proudly say "I'm from the Public Enemies Columbus Blog" (feeling like a total geek) and wait for a reaction. I see recognition in her eyes like she has heard of it but perhaps not read it. OK, so far so good.

It's then when Robert Chappell notices me and introduces himself. He is the Communications Director for the Office of Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton (or as some shorten it, The CDOLGBL). It seems he also knows about the blog and he continues to smile so I'm still in the good graces of State Government.

I meet Todd Frey finally who has helped out with common information at times and then David Fulton is pointed out. He is the Publicist for Public Enemies and I do not get the huggy vibes from him as I did the other's. However he is cordial and I have his email address so I can ask questions about The Book we have been talking about.

Adam Boor is there and I believe his title is something like Location Coordinator. Nice guy and he has talked to CP(my step daughter). In fact CP's house is(was) powering Base Camp.

Then Lt Governor Lawton looks and smiles and shakes my hand and I say I'm with the Public Enemies Columbus blog and a special big grin hits her face and I have a feeling she knows about it too!.

I didn't see any special big grin from Mrs Lawton when a guy said "I'm with Channel Three" - yea - take that TV dudes (just kidding, I love you guys, feel free to call me anything for an interview).

And that is my story.

The sad thing is that downtown Columbus is missing the boat here. What the places needs is a modern restaurant in a rustic setting. There is The Capri of course but there is nothing that really creates excitement when it comes to food. If Columbus was like SIM City I would create a tax incentive like the State of Wisconsin did or what I believe Lake Mills did.

There needs to be a reason to open a shop in the downtown area. Now there is an opportunity, the brick buildings are begging for new stores. We have people coming to the town, now we need something for them to do!

Easier said then done I know. How about a graduating scale of taxes. The first year you pay 1%. This gives you a chance to get your feet on the ground. Second year 2% (or whatever). Until the third year you are paying normal tax.

Just thinking out loud! I certainly would not want to have to figure that out. LOL
ONTO Movie things.

As you know Universal left Columbus. Johnny Depp is presumed to have flown to California. The production team will be in Crown Point Indiana next week. I would love to see photos of anything EXCEPT Johnny Depp (unless it's a REAL good one).

As for this blog - I presume I will be losing a lot of you but I do intend on trying to keep up with the movie as much as I can. I HOPE people will continue to stay active.

I also have The Book to work on and I actually now have A PLAN. I really want this to happen. This weekend I hope to create a web page with details on how you can help.

OK OK - I can see you are all getting bored - this will wake you up!

Johnny and Stephen Dorff

So keep snapping photos - I really need more non-Johnny Depp actors.

Rod Melotte


  1. Rod, sounds amazing! What an experience... thanks for sharing it with us.

    I did take quite a few photos of other actors over the last week, so if you'd like some please let me know.

  2. I added the Columbus Robbery if anyone missed it in todays blog.

  3. cool thanks. In the last few weeks in my visits to Columbus I fell in love with its downtown..its neighborhoods ..its general charm. I agree with you and if only it was as easy as sim city:)
    p.s. hope you got my email about madison...

  4. I'll definitely keep reading your blog for a while Rod, so you won't lose this reading. I'm planning on heading to Crown Point to catch the filming, so I'll try to get as many shots as I possibly can, and I'll definitely share them here. Great job with the blog and thank you SO MUCH for keeping us so informed.

  5. They had all the cobblestone rolled up by 430 yestarday afternoon. I have pics of them taking the town apart. A little heart breaking I must say.

  6. That is so cool! The whole Lawton thing, your newest friend who's father was poisoned (geez!) and the bank robbery.
    Someone near the Poser house mentioned yesterday that they were already taking up the cobblestone. I'm feeling somewhat wistful to have all this stuff leaving us - not to mention JD and this famous (infamous?) blog.

  7. ty - yes

    Anonymous #1 - poison was a joke from an internet spam thing (don't YOU feel silly)

    Anonymous #2 - no worries - it's all coming back in a month.

    Plus - this blog will be here a long time

  8. The cobblestone was gone last night before 6pm. Guess they saw the forecast too. The old time stoplights were also gone then. I am betting they are putting up our regular stoplights again today, then opening the road. (Not that anyone wants to leave home today)! Ugh!

    I'm glad the weather held for the shooting of the film. And I'm still in disbelief that I got that close to Johnny Depp. Yeah....I'm a simple girl. :)

    Thanks again for the blog, Rod. GREAT JOB!!

  9. Rod... you have been a part of history, whether willingly or not. I envy the experiences that your once quiet town has experienced. Thank you for keeping us all up to date and sharing everything.
    I will continue to read your blogs as I am interested in seeing what comes of the books you are working on.
    Enjoy your limelight!!!
    and really a heart felt thank you again!

  10. What year did the bank robbery take place?

  11. Even though the "big" excitement is over for now, there are still things to think about. See this link for an interesting article in the New York Times about a small town that was host to filming for the movie "Leatherheads" (set in the Carolinas in the 1920s). The extras have gotten together and organized their own hometown film premiere since one hasn't been set up by the studio. The article also has some interesting statements such as: "Hollywood loves the heartland, but only to a point. Movie crews perennially drop in, dazzle the locals, then pack up their stars and head back to Los Angeles or New York when they’ve soaked up enough color."

    (If the link doesn't work go to the movies section of

    P.S. I have really enjoyed this blog, as well as the comments from everyone else. What a great way to experience a movie!

  12. Thanks Rob for keeping us informed. You did a great job. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  13. "poison was a joke from an internet spam thing (don't YOU feel silly)"

    DUH - I wrote "geez" because I can't believe people are still trying to pass this over - we all know it's a scam. I'm really not stupid! Honest!

    But I am relieved that I keep my name anonymous in case I sound as stupid as I possibly do with too much coffee in my system.

  14. Anonymous - there are MANY times I said something that I wish I was Anonymous.

  15. I am really enjoying your blog. I look forward to more info when filming returns to Columbus. Did you ever get to meet Johnny?

    Good luck with the book.

  16. Hi Rod! I'll be staying around watching what you come up with next! Thanks for all the great information and for posting my photo of Johnny and Stephen Dorff! ~ Colleen

  17. I did a little rearranging in anticipation to tomorrows blog.

    I also ordered Public Enemies - The Book.

  18. I love that your book project is moving forward and you know I will want to link to your as yet unfinished website. So, try as you will, you've not run me off. Cutting down on the Depp pics hurts, but hey, life goes on and I'm hooked on this new little corner of the world for me.

  19. I'm not sure where to leave this comment, but this blog seems like the best place for it (I have enjoyed reading about the PE set this week). OK, here's my comment (compliment actually). I was at the Columbus Public Library on Tuesday with my kids and then on to the PE set. I heard such WONDERFUL things from the librarians. They were so excited to be in the middle of all of the hub-bub, they said they were excited to be showcasing their library, and they were even letting people use the restrooms and even joked that they had already went through a case of TP in the process. Way to go Columbus Library - your positive attitude was great and I've told tons of people about it!

  20. Rod,
    I'm a little offended that you'll take care of the weather for the Hollywood folks, but not us!


    (They sure know when to exit left, huh)?

  21. You won't be able to run me off that easily either. I have only been reading for a week, but I am hooked. Love all the great info on the movie and to see all the interest in the town where I have lived all my life.
    It's just too bad that when I finally had something noteworthy to post/comment on, I was then put down by someone who apparently is much more entitled to stand on the street than I. No worries, I won't be run off by him/her either.

  22. ...know when to exit STAGE left. Dammit.

  23. Kris- look at it this way - you were the first to be put down.

    I did have to delete two posts that COULD have contained a virus if you clicked on them (I did and got nothing but I have protection).

    I'm not sure of the "problem" comment - I do remember one airport thing and if that was it I think they were commenting in general and out of frustration with others.

    I know there were people that would RACE back to Madison and hang out at the hotel and that disgusted me!

    I think the entire Columbus experience went well for Universal.

    There were some Citizen paparazzi that got too close and one guy was actually booted but all in all typical stuff and I have to think having four blocks of buildings was wonderful!

  24. Thanks again everyone! I live in Oshkosh so I will keep commenting on any news I see or hear on here and possibly IMDB. Walked into the First National Bank building here yesterday, WOW! Its beautiful! Took plenty of pictures. Then I started talking to a woman who works there. Yes the first national bank building on main st has been confirmed. No confirmed filming dates YET. Then she took me downstairs to the open vault. It was so awesome! So, thank you to all in Columbus who have put up with everyone :) Great blog, keep up any info when you get it :)
    PS - Wow. Happy second day of spring fellow Wisconsinites. hehe

  25. Thanks Rod. It wasn't really a big deal or problem. As I read it again "a very angry fan" may have been referencing the girl who jumped in and got a hug (lucky duck) or may have been in a crowd with difficult people (a problem I didn't have at all). Either way, I guess the point I wanted to make is that everyone has the same right to wait for a glimpse of Johnny Depp whether they became a fan 20 years ago or 20 minutes ago. When people do step out of line (which I didn't hear happened much) there are security guards etc to take care of that.
    I agree that everything went well and felt very safe bringing my 3 kids along even though I knew there would be a large crowd.

  26. Just my 2 cents here... It sounded like what happened was someone did break the rules (not saying that was you, Kris). I think it's disappointing since Jerry does come out and tell everyone what is expected for this to happen. The term I kept hearing was, "Be respectful."

    Think about it. If you are Johnny Depp and there is a large crowd of fans who adore you waiting at the curb, how intimidating is it to think the crowd might all want to touch you? It could create a stampede where someone (Johnny most of all) could get hurt. People breaking the rules and leaping out will ruin those photo opportunities in the future.

    My own take on last night's generous walk in front of the crowd was that Johnny seemed bashful, but happy to please his fans. I could see there was some trepidation as he said hello, smiled, and waved. I think it's so fantastic that he does it anyway, even though it probably is a little scary for him.

    It's hard to think of it from the other POV, but if/when you do, it makes following the rules very very easy.

    Again, just my 2 cents...not trying to start a fight. I'm pleased that the Columbus crowd was pretty decent for the most part. Thanks to Hollywood and the rest of the people who made this week a memorable, happy one!

  27. I have been waiting all day for a pile of photos to post from shooting yesterday!Hoping to see them soon!!!

  28. Suz,

    What time did Johnny recognize the crowd? I am just curious because I was hanging around the area for about an hour and decided to take off at 6:30 p.m. Rumor has it that they'll be back to Columbus within a months time so hopefully I'll get to see him or some filming done then.


  29. Rod -

    Glad to hear that you have a new FRIEND. Make sure to deposit ALL of your money into her account, ASAP, so that her Father can repay you at least 10-fold. Don't forget to pass her letter around too so that she can make more FRIENDS. haha.

    And now for the Johnny thing. Saw him a total of 4 times. No shots on my camera though (Twice went to take THE shot and Change The Batteries was all that was on the screen). I do have some awesome pics of the downtown. Anyway, I should have flipped the tarot cards over before I headed for Columbus. Had a blast though and will try for the autograph/pic thing again in April or whenever.

    I will remain on the blog. Love it and you humor. :-)

  30. suz,
    I more than agree with you. I think that everyone should be respectful and I don't believe I didn't follow the rules as I was standing right next to a security guard when I stuck my hand out. I guess I just take issue with people who feel they are entitled to be there waiting but that others are not. But I also have issues with those who overdo it (ie go to the hotel, airport etc) as it does tend to ruin it for those who behave. Maybe I have too many issues!
    Anyway, I can't wait until they all come back to Columbus; the anticipation is killing me already.

  31. I would guess Johnny came out around 8:05-8:10. (I was on my cell phone at 8:20 running to the car to get home to see if ONE of the photos I got came out)! :grin:

    I agree too, Kris. Following him to the hotel or airport is not smart. Sure, we all have the curiosity, but you have to respect the guy's privacy. He is more than generous to the crowds. Take what we get and be happy...let him live his life after he's given his 110%.

  32. I think the entire week went rather smoothly for the situation.

    I HAVE to think that the closing of an entire four block business area is a rather daunting problem.

    I have gotten MANY emails from people not from Columbus saying their experience with natives was better then expected.

    Crowds were well behaved, people were very very friendly and the experience was wonderful.

    I should have been collecting these to give the mayor.

    In fact - if you have positive comments it would not hurt to send a compliment to Nancy Osterhaus out Mayor.

  33. I don't know where to begin!
    Rod-fantastic article you posted about the bank robbery---assuming this was Dillinger and Co. What a great find!

    Kris-I hope you don't feel put down. You had every right for what you did and if Johnny felt it inappropriate, he wouldn't have responded in the manner that he did. From what I've read/heard, the crowds were respectful during filming and towards the actors/crew. There will always be someone over stepping the boundaries, but it's one of the reasons Johnny has Jerry. Hopefully everyone will understand why Jerry behaves the way he does at times---he's doing his job. When things get out of hand, he will step in for Johnny's and fans' protection. Johnny is great PR for this film, he loves meeting his fans and truly appreciates that people spend hours waiting to see him(I think he's still surprised by that). I'm sure he had a great time in Columbus and I hope has many more great experiences in the other areas he'll be filming.

    Rod--I'll definitely be checking back on your blog. Thanks for your account of your press meeting with the Gov., etc---congrats! Looking forward to hearing about the progress of your book idea as well.

  34. Rod,
    Thanks for keeping us all informed
    on was great!
    Like others, I feel a definite let-down now that everyone's left town who's movie-related. Things were definitely at a fever pitch for a while.
    I think the idea of a book of photos is excellent. My own pictures were certainly not quality ones and would sure like to have a keepsake.
    ...and...Michelle, your pics were fabulous!I didn't realize you had such great talent!!

  35. hey!! just a "howdy" ~ thanks for ALL the updates and the pictures ~ it is pretty exciting for Emily, I'm really happy for her - an experience she will never forget!!

    and actually ~ an experience you will never forget either!!

  36. Rod
    THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE BLOG! It has given great info, pics, shined more attention upon Columbus itself. I came up Tuesday evening (Johnny and guns what excitement) got a few pics not great but a good Johnny one (that I emailed to all I know and they expressed their envy). Also came up (from Sun Prairie) Thursday afternoon but left before seeing Johnny's walk (cold and too many people for me)

    Everyone I encountered was VERY friendly, eager to share info about what was happening and just generally excited and happy to be there.

    Thanks for you sense of humor and I will be keeping up with the blog and loooking forward to more news of PE to come....the book you are working on is a great idea I am sure lots of people would be glad to buy one and support Columbus

    As a southerner now living in WI-they did have amazing timing on the weather angle- NO MORE SNOW

    Many thanks again......

  37. Has anyone heard about filming in Manitowish Waters? I heard a lot early on and then nothing. Just curious if they are still using the original Bohemian Resort or filming in another location.


  38. Rod!!

    i just got a (small) chuckle - my local TV station mentioned ALL the snow you are getting ~ :0

    i chuckled because of your comments about the wonderful weather you're having ~ yep, a sense of humor, that is what keeps you going!! and you got a great sense of humor ~ as tongue and chick as it may be sometimes ;)

  39. Sort of quite around here tonight - odd what a foot of snow will do.

  40. All this snow talk is kinda nice as I've never been in snow I can experience it vicariously. Re those photos of Dorff and Depp. Do you see the cute way they play gangster, you alternatively squint and glare and purse your lips at the same time. Try it.

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