PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – They removed a historic chandelier and put down a false floor in the Statehouse rotunda. They replaced lamps with Greco-Roman statues and constructed a false front to the Senate Chamber.

But when crews filming the Disney move “Underdog” replaced with state flag flying over Rhode Island’s Statehouse with one from a fictional city, that was the last straw for Gov. Don Carcieri.

Carcieri, who ordered the fake flag removed immediately, now says he will scrutinize more closely any future plans to use the building as a TV or movie set after nearly a month of disruptions by the filming of the live action version of the 1960s cartoon.

“I don’t think in the future it’s appropriate to take apart the inside of the Statehouse to do this filming,” Carcieri told reporters.

“Underdog,” which features Jim Belushi, has been filming in Providence for months and shot at the Statehouse from July 10 to last Friday. Crews were in the building preparing for the shoot for several weeks before that.

During the filming, the Statehouse’s front entrance and rotunda were occasionally closed. And some state employees complained about the duration of the “Underdog” shoot because they had to give up parking spaces and navigate equipment that lined the Statehouse hallways for a month.

Carcieri spokesman Jeff Neal said it is not clear who signed off on the work. Steven Feinberg, director of the Rhode Island Film and Television Office, said his office dealt with the state Department of Administration, which reports to the governor.

Feinberg said any inconveniences involved in filming “Underdog” are more than offset by the $40 million investment, 300 full-time jobs and 3,000 spots for paid extras that it brought the Ocean State.

“This movie is going to promote our state to a worldwide audience,” he said. “It is going to have a positive impact on tourism that is priceless.”

Feinberg said Disney hired a historic preservationist to make sure its deconstruction and reconstruction was done properly. It also moved its production schedule to the slow summer months when the legislature is not in session.

Scott Levine, a publicist for the production, declined to comment on Carcieri’s remarks. Executive producer Todd Arnow told The Providence Journal he respected the governor’s feelings and appreciated the support the film has received in Rhode Island.

A number of film and television shows have been shot in and around Providence since the state began offering tax credits for production costs last year. The Showtime series “Brotherhood” and CBS pilot “Waterfront” both filmed at the Statehouse – although for only a few days.

Senate President Joseph Montalbano, who gave up his office for “Brotherhood,” said he thought disruptions from “Underdog” were minimal.

“I would welcome Disney, Showtime or anyone else back to the Statehouse if it brings a major production to Rhode Island,” he said.

“Underdog” also has a fan in Stephen Tocco, chief of the Capitol Police, who handled security for the shoot. He said he enjoyed the filming more than any other event in the 25 years he has worked at the Statehouse.

“How could you not love Underdog?” Tocco said. “This is Disney. This is apple pie, this is motherhood.”

AP-ES-07-31-06 1851EDT


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