Opinion

EDITORIAL: No joking matter

We tossed around ideas about doing some April Fool's joke in the paper today. A local politician even sent us a phony news release, hoping to have a little fun.

We resisted the urge. Are we just no fun? Perhaps, but we have seen some April Fool's jokes in newspapers go horribly sideways. One with some high-profile names comes to mind.

The memories are a bit foggy, but we will relay the story best we can.

Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron and Gary Sinese were filming a movie called Reindeer Games in Prince George in 1999. Big names, big budget ($42 million) and a coup for the Northern B.C. Film Commission and its hard-working commissioner, Sarah Shaak.

Restaurants, hotels and all sorts of businesses benefited from this production coming to North Central B.C.

Big names, big business and big news in PG for sure.

The movie was a week or so into the Prince George part of filming and it was April 1. A local newspaper decided to play a gag.

Their bogus story — front page if we recall correctly — was that Affleck and local film commissioner Shaak had fallen in love. There were made-up quotes and all sorts of Tom Foolery in the story.

Affleck, or his agent, or the film's producers, or Affleck's girlfriend, or all of the above, didn't find it funny at all. This was a time before Affleck had his high-profile relationship with Jennifer Lopez. We're not sure if he was still with Gwyneth Paltrow, but we're not great at following that tabloid gossip stuff.

Shaak and her partner at the time were none too impressed, either.

Regardless, the you-know-what hit the fan. There were noises from the film's camp they were considering packing up and taking all their stars and economy-enriching money out of town. Affleck, we were told, was downright angry.

City officials, politicians, business leaders and others were calling for heads to roll. In the end, the newspaper published an apology of sorts and the film stayed in town.

Reindeer Games' bad karma continued. The film cost $42 million to make and grossed $32 at the box office. It was panned by critics and Theron later said it was the worst movie she ever did.

— Editorial by John Harding

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