It’s ironic: the big-screen “The Big Valley” is all about the Southern Pacific Railroad tussling with ranchers in Calfornia’s San Joaquin Valley in the old west – but the picture’s being made in Baton Rouge, LA. Chalk it up to Louisiana’s inviting incentives for movie shooting – and California’s lack of same.
Jessica Lange is taking over the Barbara Stanwyk role of ranch matriarch Victoria Barkley in the feature, due to begin production next month. Lee Majors (who played Heath in the 1960s TV series) is also aboard, along with Bruce Dern, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Nicholson (as Audra), “True Blood’s” Stephen Moyer (as Jarrod), Jason Alan Smith (as Nick) and Travis Fimmel, the Aussie who starred alongside the late Patrick Swayze in “The Beast” (as Heath).
AMC is heavy into casting for its “Hell on Wheels” miniseries – which sounds as if it might prove a lure to fans of HBO’s dearly departed “Deadwood,” with lots of old West dirt, grit, spit, violence and cussin’. The 1865 period tale of a former Confederate slave owner out to avenge the rape and murder of his wife by Union soldiers takes place against construction of the transcontinental railroad. The title refers to a bordello frequented by railroad workers in Nebraska. Parts from hookers to Cheyenne tribesmen are to be filled for the project that starts shooting in August.