Apparently, fame can be fleeting in the movie industry, even if you are just a Michigan business trying to cash-in on it. The Oink Joint, a diner in Birch Run Township, made a public relations splash after it was featured in the 2009 Drew Barrymore movie "Whip It."
The building — formerly Ken’s Diner — was part of the filming for the movie in 2008, and then the fictional diner was made into a real-life diner with the same name, using menus from the movie.
Governing magazine mentioned the Oink Joint in its June 2010 issue story about Michigan's film tax incentives. That article talks about how a shuttered diner was reopened as the Oink Joint after all the local notoriety.
The only problem? The Oink Joint closed several months ago, according to Birch Run Township officials.
Leon Drolet, chairman of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, learned that this week, after reading the article in Governing magazine. He called the diner and found the number didn't work.
The Michigan Film Office promoted it on its website as a "success story" for the tax incentives moviemakers get from Michigan. According to the Michigan Film Office website, the Oink Joint "has been a huge tourist attraction." The Film Office stated that $30,000 of building renovations was done by the film company, an expense they could have received up to 42 percent back in tax credits. Also, 300 Oink Joint T-shirts and 75 baseball caps were sold.
The Film Office link was available until yesterday afternoon, but appears to have been removed shortly after Michigan Capitol Confidential called the Film Office to ask about the Oink Joint. The link now reads "Sorry. The Success Story was not found."
A screen shot of the original "Success Story" page is available here.
"This is just another example of government bluster," Drolet said. "All that it has left Michigan is another closed business, an unemployed pig and 75 baseball caps. … It is a powerful symbol of the film industry. They can’t create sustained prosperity and wealth. They can provide the illusion of wealth for a brief moment. Just like at the theater, it provided an illusion for a short time. When you come out of the theater, you are back in the real world. And just like the theater, you overpaid for your popcorn and candy."
Janet Lockwood, director of the Michigan Film Office, said in an e-mail she was not aware the Oink Joint had closed.
"That’s too bad," Lockwood wrote. "It was a nice little place with good food. Hard times everywhere."
Editor's note - On June 30, Livingston.com revealed another error in a Michigan Film Office "success story" about a Michigan business: