WATERVILLE (AP) – Film producers are scouting Maine for locations to shoot an HBO movie based on “Empire Falls,” Richard Russo’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the struggles of a small mill town in Maine.

Russo, a former Colby College professor now living in Camden, and Lea Girardin, director of the Maine Film Office, are traveling with the producers and visited the Waterville and Skowhegan areas Wednesday.

“We’re just doing our best right now to show them everything,” Girardin said. “It’s wonderful that Richard Russo, the writer, is with them (producers) and showing them the areas that were inspirational to him when he was writing.”

Paul Newman is one of the producers of the HBO movie, and will star in the film, Girardin said. Newman also starred in “Nobody’s Fool,” a film based on Russo’s book of the same name.

The film premiered at the Waterville Opera House in 1994 as a benefit for Railroad Square Cinema, which lost its theater to fire in December of that year.

When Russo lived in Waterville, he frequented Jorgensen’s cafe on Main Street, where he often was seen writing notes on a legal pad. Those who know him say he wrote parts of “Empire Falls” in the cafe. Jorgensen’s is noted in the novel’s acknowledgements.

Girardin said the producers seeking possible locations liked what they saw in Waterville and Skowhegan. She said the group on Wednesday was in its second of three days scouting the area and planned to visit Madison, Bangor and possibly Old Town as well.

Producers also were looking at places in Connecticut, Newman’s home state, Girardin said. “We’re not the only game in town here,” she said. “We’re in heavy competition with Connecticut.”

She said she hopes to know within a week whether a Maine location has been selected.

AP-ES-06-19-03 0217EDT

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