Mellon Bank Corp. is causing a Hollywood flap.
It all started when a major production company decided to shoot scenes for a Michael Keaton movie in Pittsburgh - the star's hometown.
One of the chosen locations was One Mellon Bank Center. But Mellon balked at letting its headquarters building be turned into a film set.
The public's wrath rained down on the venerable institution. Its recalcitrance was seen as depriving the local economy of a $1 million windfall and the local Chamber of Commerce of a ready-made, hometown-boy- makes-good story.
The bank is reconsidering.
Plot within the plot: The Keaton vehicle, "Desperate Measures," is actually set in San Francisco. Filming began last month in Los Angeles.
The production company, Mandalay Entertainment, a unit of Sony Corp., wanted to use Pittsburgh's Allegheny County Courthouse as the place where Mr. Keaton, in the role of a convicted murderer, is being held temporarily.
The prisoner is to walk across the street to a modern-looking hospital to donate bone marrow to a dying boy.
The 54-story Mellon building would serve as the hospital. Filming there would require 10 to 14 days, after four weeks of preparations, said Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office.
Concluding that six weeks of upheaval would not be good for business, Mellon officials last week told the producers thanks but no thanks.
"We felt we couldn't accommodate them," said Mellon spokesman Stephen Dishart. "It would be too disruptive to the customers, employees, and third-party tenants."
He said Mandalay Entertainment had requested extensive use of the plaza, lobby, and other interior spaces.
David Zelon, an executive at Mandalay, declined to comment on Mellon's decision but indicated a response may be forthcoming. "I've got nothing to say to you until next week," he said.
The bank's initial refusal raised temperatures among Pittsburgh public officials, who urged Mellon to reconsider. It agreed this week to continue discussions with the production company.
"For a short time, cool heads did not prevail," said Margaret McCormick Barron, a spokeswoman for Mayor Tom Murphy. "It was unfortunate, but we got by it."
As for the city's role, "we talked to both sides and listened to them," Ms. McCormick said. "We'd certainly hate to lose movie business - especially with Michael Keaton, the hometown guy. But we respect Mellon Bank as a good civic-minded company."
Mellon is holding to the line that its decision will be based on how the filming would affect the company and the 40 other corporate tenants in its building. Mr. Dishart noted that Mellon in recent years allowed filming of other movies in company-owned buildings.
"We recognize the importance to economic development," Mr. Dishart said. "One of the points we've been trying to make all along is, we've allowed films here before."
Indeed, movies are precious to Pittsburgh. Ms. Keezer of the city's Film Office boasts that her nonprofit agency, funded by county hotel taxes, has brought 44 movies to the steel city since 1990.
Pittsburgh a film mecca? Ms. Keezer believes it is competitive with nonHollywood locations like Chicago. She said Pittsburgh beat out Chicago for production of the recently released comedy "Kingpin."
"We can double for anything in the world, unless it requires a beach or a desert," Ms. Keezer said.
She said production companies have spent about $175 million in the community during the past six years.
Pittsburgh, she added, has gained a reputation for "film-friendliness," having landed such hit movies as "Silence of the Lambs." And it can exploit its connections to stars that grew up there, such as Mr. Keaton and Sharon Stone.
Ms. Keezer doesn't want to squander the good will. She doesn't even think, she said, about what might happen if Mellon rebuffs the filmmakers a second time.
"Our job was to get the parties to the table," Ms. Keezer said. "Hopefully, they'll come to a successful resolution."
"It's a pivotal location," she added. "There's not another location that looks like it."
If the film does get done in Pittsburgh, it won't be the first time that the medieval-looking courthouse has been in the movies. Mel Gibson played an inmate there in "Mrs. Soffel" 12 years ago. The building was more recently spotlighted in the made-for-television features "Darrow" and "Against Her Will: Incident in Baltimore."
But it was the juxtaposition of the 108-year-old courthouse and the 13- year-old Mellon skyscraper that attracted Hollywood's interest for "Desperate Measures."
Mr. Keaton's Pittsburgh roots seemed to add spice to the Mellon-Mandalay negotiations. The actor remains close to his hometown and is said to return often for family visits. He is on the board of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team.
Local officials are holding their breath, waiting for Mellon to make a final decision. No one expects to hear it before next week at the earliest.
Meanwhile, bank officials are saying they have "no time frame."
"Mellon was good enough to continue negotiations," said Andrea Shedwick, an administrative assistant to the Allegheny Board of Commissioners. "I think the production company is working with Mellon to find a resolution."
Chriss Swaney, a freelance writer in Pittsburgh, contributed to this article.