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April 25, 2008

Residents of the real Sitka fee left out of Rockport's movie magic

ROCKPORT — Rockport and Sitka — the Alaskan panhandle city Rockport recently portrayed during filming of the Disney/Touchstone Pictures production, "The Proposal" — do have some notable similarities. Both municipalities are located on an island, their economies depend heavily on the tourism and fishing industries and both even boast an area known as Halibut Point.

The movie, starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, is expected to hit theaters later next year and tells the story of a high-powered publishing executive, played by Bullock, with an expired visa who is trying to avoid deportation to her native Canada by persuading her assistant, Reynolds, to marry her.

Filming on Cape Ann gained national attention last week after a vehicle transporting Bullock and husband, Jesse James, was struck by another vehicle in Gloucester. The driver of the other vehicle was charged with drunken driving. No one was injured.

Publicity spurred by the filming has led several Sitkans to hunt for information on the Internet. Many are disappointed with the production company for not shooting the film in Sitka, while others have voiced their thoughts on the project in a more tongue-in-cheek manner.

One Sitkan, Rich McClear, who is more curious about the project than disappointed, took the time to e-mail Rockport's selectmen on Wednesday all the way from Prishtina, Kosovo.

"Apparently your town is masquerading as my town," McClear wrote. "I feel like the victim of identity theft. I am curious if you feel likewise violated, having your town's identity changed into my town's identity. Just curious about reactions in Rockport, MA."

McClear, a USAid contractor training journalists in Eastern Europe, also forwarded a copy of the letter to the Times. McClear managed the Sitka public radio station for 13 years and was first introduced to pictures of Rockport's transformation into Sitka by his son.

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