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Cedric the Entertainer meets Richard the Politician and Grant the Polar Bear

‘Grassroots’ stars share the love with the Seattleites they play on screen

By Eric Scigliano July 23, 2010

It passed unnoted even on the production blog for Grassroots, the first Hollywood feature about Seattle to actually be shot in Seattle in eons. But last week’s shooting at the Phinney Neighborhood Center featured an off-camera encounter loaded with nostalgia for fans and local political junkies: the Two Grants and Two Richards Summit. Together again for the first time were Grant Cogswell, the mercurial local writer/activist/monorail booster whose upstart campaign for Seattle City Council the film recreates; Avatar’s Joel David Moore, who plays Cogswell; then-councilmember Richard McIver, whom Cogswell nearly defeated; and Cedric the Entertainer, playing McIver.

Moore, who looks like Pete Townshend in Who days, towers over Cogswell, whom a Stranger writer indelibly described as a "manly" version of M*A*S*H’s Radio Reilly. But Cedric and McIver are the same height and, save for a few decades, pounds, and skin shades, could be döppelgangers. (We’ll post a photo as soon as Cedric approves one for release. Meanwhile, here he is rapping last Saturday at the county courthouse, backed by Moore in Cogswell’s famous polar bear suit.)

“I wrapped today, so I’m dressed in my casual Richard McIvers,” Cedric explained, beating the heat in white jams and a red Crooks & Castles T-shirt blazoned with “Peace Through Superior Firepower” and a tiny AK-47. But he was still in part enough to ponder Seattle’s politics: “It’s interesting trying to capture the city. It’s a city that cares about its politics.”

“Trust me, everybody has an opinion!” McIver interjected, evidently glad not to have to listen to everybody anymore. Cedric described how he saw his character’s reaction to Cogswell’s challenge: “I’m thinking, ‘Wait a minute, this guy’s taking my white hat back. Who is this dude? Everybody loves me!” McIver laughed and explained how he and Cogswell got to be friends in the course of the grueling campaign: “I saw he wasn’t the devil I thought he was, and he saw I wasn’t the devil.”

“I love Richard McGiver!” says Cogswell, who hadn’t seen his old adversary in years. They hugged when they met again.

Two more nostalgic notes: This isn’t the first time show biz has occupied the Phinney center; the Firesign Theatre rehearsed there for their big reunion tour nearly 20 years ago. And I had my own döppelganger doubletake on the Grassroots set yesterday, when crewmembers kept calling me “Mike”—the name of the guy I got mistaken for all freshman year. (I finally met Mike on the last day of classes.) Turns out the Grassrooters thought I was ex-California congressman (and ex-husband of Arianna) Michael Huffington, who was due to perform a cameo today. I considered telling them what Arianna’s really like, but bit my tongue.

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