Sarasota City and County Commissions were falling all over themselves recently in an attempt to convince Tinseltown that we were ready for our close-up. They wined and dined Hollywood producers, they promoted the Sarasota Film Festival as a love fest for all things cinema, they thought about giving away the venerable Municipal Auditorium to the Ringling College of Artsy-Fartsy for a buck, to be converted into a sound stage for film makers (at least until the public outcry convinced them that such a move would be political suicide) and have, in general, drooled over the potential windfall that they thought being Hollywood East would bring them.
But no more.
Sarasota has had enough and we are in a snit. And, if anybody knows their "snit," it's Sarasota.
Sarasota was a little miffed that favorite son, Kevin Biegel, co-producer of TV's "Cougartown" did not set the show in Sarasota, but opted, instead, for an unnamed mystery town south of Sarasota. But we contented ourselves just to see the name of our fair city on the hand-drawn map in the opening credits every week.
Last fall, we reveled in the visit by the Travel Channel's "Man Vs. Food" and the glitzy "CSI: Sarasota" intro that played up, albeit briefly, the sun, the sand, the surf that is Sarasota. But, that, too, was tempered by the fact that, instead of focusing on the fine dining and haute cuisine for which the area is famous, the show featured Yoder's Amish Restaurant (OK, it's an institution), the Salty Dog (concentrating on the eatery's famous deep-fried hot dog) and, dear God, help us, the 4:20 Cafe. Located in that hub of culture and cuisine known as Gulf Gate, the 4:20 Cafe is impressively located just up the street from the car wash and nestled steps away from a handful of seedy bars and, of course, the ever-popular Zone d'Erotica.
The specialty of the house at the 4:20 Cafe is an array of gigantic sub sandwiches containing hamburger patties, cheese sticks, chicken nuggets, glops of melted cheese, a heaping serving of cholesterol and early death, gluttony and assorted other deadly sins and anything else they can find lying around in the kitchen that isn't still moving. What an advertisement for Sarasota, the Cultural Capital of Southwest Florida!
The final straw came this past weekend, though, with a skit on Saturday Night Live that featured actress Betty White. Entitled "CSI: Sarasota," it poked fun at our abundance of senior citizens. Who says art doesn't imitate life?
Sarasotans are up in arms over the perceived slight and have now severed all ties with the movement to bring Hollywood to the Suncoast.
Said one spurned commissioner, "First, that fat bastard, Adam Richman, shows up in town to tape a show about some third-rate dive named after an overt drug reference that caters to the drunks of the bar crowd that frequent that cesspool called Gulf Gate and now, that old broad, Betty White, makes fun of the whole town by pointing out that we're old. What do they think, we wouldn't stay up after 8:30 on Saturday night and find out?"
"Well, actually, I didn't see it myself. We came home after our regular early-bird dinner, watched Lawrence Welk in our matching La-Z-Boys and were in bed by 8:15 on Saturday. But my grandson from up north called me on Sunday to tell me about it."
The City of St. Petersburg is said to be currently mulling a lawsuit against Sarasota, claiming infringement on St. Pete's unofficial title of "God's Waiting Room."