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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media – comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Local media is still his beat and he’s bringing his interest, curiosity, contacts and unique style to Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU. Contact John at johnkiese@yahoo.com.

No Release Date Yet For 'Hillbilly Elegy'

ron howard
Alessandra Tarantino

One year ago, Hollywood rolled into Middletown so director Ron Howard could film the final week of Hillbilly Elegy.

Oscar-winners Glenn Close and Amy Adams were joined by Gabriel Basso, Jesse C. Boyd, Haley Bennett, Bo Hopkins and Owen Asztalos shooting scenes on Harrison Street in the 100-year-old Park Place neighborhood.

Netflix has invested $45 million in the adaptation of the 2016 best-seller, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance, a 2003 Middletown High School graduate who now lives in Cincinnati.

Credit John Kiesewetter / WVXU
Director Ron Howard (far right) issues instructions to his crew filming 'Hillbilly Elegy' on Harrison Street in Middletown on Aug. 5, 2019.

Howard, also an Academy Award winner, brought the cast and crew to Vance's hometown for the production's final four days. Filming started June 12 in Georgia, which has generous tax incentives for movie and TV companies.

The International Movie Datebase has listed the release date as November 2020 for months. Brian C. Ellerman of the-numbers.com, a Hollywood website which tracks box office receipts and film openings, says "it is supposed to be released sometime during the month of November," although he has heard nothing official from Netflix. But major Hollywood studios have pushed most premieres into 2021 because many theaters are closed due to the coronavirus.

So when will we see it?

"We currently do not have this information to share right now," says Netflix publicist Rachel Herring. "But I'll be sure to let you know as soon as it is available."

Credit John Kiesewetter / WVXU
Amy Adams (left) talks to fans after filming a scene on Harrison Street on August 7, 2019.

Vance's memoir has been cited by some as a guidebook for understanding Donald Trump's election in 2016. Herring did not answer my question when I asked if Netflix might premiere the movie before Trump faces re-election Nov. 3.

Netflix also has not released publicity photos shot a year ago, which could mean promotion of the premiere is a long ways off.

Credit John Kiesewetter / WVXU
Glenn Close (in pink), on set last August, plays Vance's grandmother in the film.

Little known Basso (The Whole Truth), 24, plays Vance, who grew up among poor working-class "hillbillies" in the Southwestern Ohio steel town. After high school Vance enlisted in the U.S. Marines and served in Iraq. He returned to Ohio and studied political science and philosophy at Ohio State University, and later earned his law degree from Yale in 2013.

John Kiesewetter joined the WVXU news team as a TV/Media blogger on July 1 2015, after nearly 30 years covering local and national broadcasting for The Cincinnati Enquirer. He’ll be posting news about Greater Cincinnati TV, radio and movies; updating your favorite former local TV/radio personalities or stars who grew up here; and breaking news about national TV, radio and media trends. You’ll also learn about Cincinnati’s rich broadcasting history.