Nebraskans Hone in on Hollywood

Bruce Dern Nebraska Hamptons Film Festival

Nebraska Coast Connection rooting for Omaha native Alexander Payne's pic screening at Cannes

The Croisette will get a taste of Midwestern American sensibilities this year when Omaha native Alexander Payne screens his latest pic, “Nebraska,” in competition. And back in Los Angeles, members of 21-year-old networking group the Nebraska Coast Connection, will be rooting for their homegrown hero to take home the fest’s top prize.

Founded in 1992 by Cornhusker State native and producer Todd Nelson, NCC provides an opportunity for (mostly) Nebraska transplants working in Hollywood to rub elbows with other industry professionals. The monthly salons began in June 1995 and take place every second Monday at the Culver Hotel in Culver City, Calif.; more specifically, in the former office of Harry Culver — yep, also a Nebraska native.

“The fact that Harry’s office serves as our home, for me, is one of the coolest things,” Nelson says.

On average, the monthly meetings host 30-50 people, though that number can quadruple when notable guests like Payne are scheduled to attend. Nelson boasts that the group’s mailing list is just over 1,000.

Payne has been a strong supporter of the group over the years: The Oscar-winning director, who attended meetings even before making it big, last showed up in 2010, when he screened his rarely-seen thesis film, “The Passion of Martin.” Nelson says he is working with Payne and Paramount to host a screening of Nebraska sometime before the film’s Nov. 22 Stateside release.

Others who have attended NCC events include Marg Helgenberger; Dean Zanuck, the grandson of Nebraska native, Darryl F. Zanuck; Chris Klein; and Suzanne Lloyd, the granddaughter of Nebraskan Harold Lloyd, whose 1923 silent classic, Safety Last, also will screen as part of Cannes Classics’ Cinema de la Plage lineup.

HOMETOWN HERO Pictured: Alexander Payne, left, is a supporter of the Nebraska Coast Connection, which Todd Nelson started in 1992.

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  1. Carolyn Smith says:

    What a cool organization! I’d LOVE to be a fly on the wall there..

  2. Mjkbk says:

    Your readers who actually recognize the difference between the verbs “hone” and “home” start twitching whenever the words are used interchangeably by trained journalistic professionals. Have mercy on them, and please correct your headline to read, “Nebraskans HOME in on Hollywood”. Unless those Cornhuskers are indeed sharpening knives and stropping razors as they root for Alexander Payne……

  3. Back in 1997, my fellow Cornhusker Todd Nelson helped me secure housing in his “Nebraska Building” after my fellow Monk, Michael Lane, and I settled down in L.A. after twelve years on the road publishing Monk: the Mobile Magazine from our 26-foot Fleetwood Bounder Monkmobile. We needed to be in L.A. to finish our Frommer’s Mad Monks’ Guide to California and to have a base of operations for our weekly dispatches for the nascent

    Much to my surprise, my fellow Omaha Creighton Prep speech and debate team compadre, Alexander Payne, was my upstairs neighbor. Years after arriving in L.A., I moved into Alex’s upstairs flat, where I continue to reside to this day.

    I eventually caught the cinema bug myself. Only a block away is Mr. Lane’s and my contribution to the L.A. film production scene, Monk Space (, as well as Monk Media, whose first production is Crotty’s Kids (, a feature documentary about the urban dropout epidemic.

    The long tradition of Husker film excellence — Brando, Lloyd, Astaire, Fonda, Clift, Zwank and Zanuck — continues at this year’s Cannes.

    Much luck to the Talented Mr. Payne and many thanks to the incredibly supportive Mr. Nelson.


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