How do you tell Jack Nicholson he’s a groundhog? If you got word, as I did, that www.groundhog202.com was readying nine installments of a “Shining” takeoff. That’s why I called Jack — I’ve seen the first three. The Red Tettemer ad agency in Philadelphia is creating the webseries on behalf of the Pennsylvania Tourism Office primarily to create excitement for Groundhog Day, Feb.2 — also to generate awareness of Pennsylvania Tourism’s January promotion, “Cabin Fever Month”. (“The Shining” has often been referred to as “the ultimate cabin fever movie.”)
The nine segs exactly mimic the film’s sites and action. The setting was duplicated in a ski resort in the Pocono mountains. The props also were copied — from Nicholson’s typewriter, to the color of the darts he tosses. Nicholson’s role is now the Groundhog — in a furry groundhog costume — and it’s played by the pic’s codirector Tom Carr, who also wrote the script with partner Erik SIlverson. The Shadow is played by Zach Williams. The rest of the cast is also real. And new music (you can’t use the film’s Bela Bartok score or musicians) was created with scanners by Patrick de Caumette. Two endings have been shot awaiting the fateful day when Groundhog and Shadow part company .
When I related all of this to a most receptive Nicholson, he laughingly reminded the makers of “Groundhog202” “They better watch out–because you know Jack’s not afraid of his shadow.” He asked for the web site address to check out the Groundhog’s performance in his role. Nicholson reminisced about making of Stanley Kubrick’s controversial 1980 film in which Shelley Duvall and Scatman Crothers were among the costars. “I’ll never forget (making) that movie.” It was almost a year in production in England and was shut down for six weeks when Nicholson was injured “jumping a fence — at night,” he laughed. While “The Shining” — and Nicholson — received differing reviews, he laughed, saying “The Shining” will be remembered “long after the green Jello slides down the drain!” Nicholson is regularly reminded of his signature, eyebrow-raising in the film and laughingly told me he sees that caricature often tatooed on various parts of fans’ anatomies! Nicholson returned home to L.A. after a skiing vacation with his family in Aspen and is awaiting word from Martin Scorsese for post-production chores on “The Departed.” No, he has no plans for another film, saying, “I’m doing more looking around than I usually do — and I’m looking forward to more good times in 2006.”