Fairview set as stage of new Hollywood film

The University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview has hit it big in the movie business.

Sarah Nienaber

The University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview has hit it big in the movie business, but nobody here has to worry about forgetting any lines.
The hospitals will be the setting for the fall 2011 action thriller, âÄúContagion,âÄù a movie about a threatening global virus being combated by a team of doctors commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Neither co-stars Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow, nor directors and cameras will be on the Twin Cities campus, though. Rather, film crews will replicate Fairview on set about 375 miles away in northern Illinois.
âÄúContagion,âÄù which will hit theaters in October, takes place partly in Edina and Minneapolis, but hasnâÄôt been filmed anywhere near metropolitan Minnesota.
Some of the filming has been done in Elgin, Ill., a suburb about 40 miles northwest of Chicago, since early December. The official logo and signage of Fairview have been plastered all over a vacant hospital in the town.
The filmâÄôs publicist, Spooky Stevens, said Fairview was likely chosen because itâÄôs a recognizable name and is located in a metro area, like the hospital in the script.
This is the first time the UniversityâÄôs name has been used in a major motion picture, as far as Laura Johnson of University Relations could remember, but the University and Fairview have been receptive to the use of their name.
Warner Bros. has worked with Fairview to develop a licensing agreement spelling out exactly how the Fairview name can be used by the movie makers. This process is typical for the use of the UniversityâÄôs name, Johnson said.
âÄúIt was a fairly simple processâÄù that took only âÄúa few days,âÄù Fairview spokeswoman Jennifer Amundson said.
The process varies depending on the number of negotiations needed for proper protection of the UniversityâÄôs name, she said.
In the case of âÄúContagion,âÄù Fairview was allowed to screen the script of the movie, Johnson said.
âÄúCertainly, we ensure that the UniversityâÄôs mission is protected and preserved whenever requests come through,âÄù Johnson said.
Elgin officials were pleased about the city being used for the filming of a major motion picture, city spokeswoman Sue Olafson said.
Olafson said filming has been rather quiet and there havenâÄôt been many problems stemming from the movie crew working in town.
Prior to filming, Warner Bros. studios contacted city officials for extra police details. The city staffed additional officers to help patrol the movie set and direct traffic during filming, Olafson said.
Elgin, a city with a population of almost 108,000, was most likely chosen for the use of its recently emptied hospital, Sherman Hospitals, spokeswoman Christine Priester said.
The hospital had recently opened a new operating facility, leaving its old facilities available for filming, Priester said.
âÄúWhen we left the facility, we had listed the hospital with the Illinois film office,âÄù said Priester.
Warner Bros. sent scouts and, later, director Steven Soderbergh, to scope out the site. Priester said the hospital would be paid for the use of its buildings.