Kansas City shouldn't starve the Film Office.

Kansas City Strip 

Kansas City shouldn't starve the Film Office.

Director's cut: January's drama featuring mayor Kay Barnes as a skinflint more worried about fountains than Kansas City's bustling movie industry already has a March sequel. Apparently, the Kansas City Film Office might not shut down after all if the City Council approves a scheme to turn it over to private funders after keeping it alive for one more year.

The office is purportedly responsible for bringing $80 million worth of film projects to Kansas City over the past seven years, such as the oft-cited Ride With the Devil. That 1999 offering from director Ang Lee (think Crouching Border Ruffian, Hidden Jayhawker) took four months to film hereabouts, generating a lot of greenbacks for area innkeepers who hosteled the 800 filmhands. But well-scripted complaints began pouring in after the Film Office's parent agency, the Economic Development Corporation, decided killing the Film Office was the best way to save $150,000 after the city scratched that much from the EDC's subsidy.

"City hall really heard about it," says Tiffany Way, the office's one remaining manager after its director, Patti Watkins, resigned.

Local author Lou Jane Temple was among those squawking. Temple puts food on her table by writing recipes into her murder mysteries -- and Watkins' resignation opened up a job that looked mighty appetizing. And it seems as if Temple already has what it takes to lure more movies to town. Surely the big screen is ready for the adventures of Heaven Lee, Temple's crime-fighting food monger, memorialized under such titles as Death by Rhubarb, Red Beans and Vice and Bread on Arrival. Consider this script treatment from Amazon.com: "When a big jazz festival rolls into Kansas City, big names and even bigger egos follow. Soul singer divas and renowned jazzmen take over the usually sleepy city, and Heaven Lee has to cook for them all. While Heaven is up to her elbows in hoppin' john and sweet potato pecan pie getting ready for the festivities, the event's much-despised organizer, Evelyn Edwards, is murdered."

Forget movie producers -- that idea ought to bring conventioneers stampeding into town.

"I immediately thought I'd be a great person to replace [Watkins]," Temple says. Absolutely! We're drooling at the prospect of seeing Revenge of the Barbecue Queens at AMC theaters everywhere.

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