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Wednesday, April 20,2011

The Screening Room

John Lepard has much to ’Scream’ about these days

by James Sanford

John Lepard hasn’t had a
chance to see “Scream 4” yet — he and his wife, Emily Sutton-Smith,
have been busy preparing for the birth of their son — but he has warm
memories of his time on the set.


In fact, you could say the memories are broiling.


A veteran of other Michigan-made films, such as "Whip It" and "Conviction," Lepard shot for one day last July at Dearborn’s Woodworth Middle School, which was rechristened as Woodsboro High School for the filming.


“It’s really old,” Lepard said of the location, “and it was hot — hotter than hell. They had fans blowing all the time.”


You’ll see Lepard about 15 minutes into the film. The Williamston Theatre executive director (and director of the theater’s recent hit “While We Were Bowling”) plays an English teacher, identified in the credits as Mr. Baker. One of his students is Jill Roberts (played by the winsome Emma Roberts of “Nancy Drew” and Nickelodeon’s “Unfabulous”); she’s the cousin of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), the pivotal player — and frequent near-victim — in the first three “Scream” movies.


In Lepard’s scene, Mr. Baker is lecturing when he’s interrupted by the sound of a ringing cell. As he starts to scold the students for not turning off their phones, he’s drowned out by the sound of dozens of devices suddenly bleeping and chirping: A murderer has struck, and news is spreading quickly.


Lepard was impressed by the amount of scene-setting atmosphere the “Scream” team put into the scene. “You probably can’t see it onscreen, but they decked my class- James Sanford/City Pulse room out with scary posters — like  ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ — and Edgar Allan Poe quotes. I think I was the creepiest teacher ever.”


Mr. Baker was supposed to have one more moment in the film, breaking up a fight in the hallway between a couple of students. "but that was deemed a ’nonessential scene,’" Lepard said.


One thing you can rely on when you’re in a "Scream" movie: Sooner or later, you’re bound to get cut.



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