By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Dec 30, 2010 at 11:00 AM

No, Milwaukee isn't Hollywood. We're not New York or even Chicago.

But in 2010, Milwaukee got a taste of the big-time when director Michael Bay brought the cast and crew of "Transformers 3" to town to film at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

The last time a big Hollywood release did as much filming in Milwaukee was 2008, when director Michael Mann brought "Public Enemies," and Johnny Depp, to the state.

The movie is due for a summer release.

While he was in town, Bay used the Santiago Calatrava-designed backdrop for a short, uh, art film. His fine work was released last month as a commercial for Victoria's Secret.

Bay's use of Milwaukee brings to mind the issue of state tax incentives for filmmakers.

Green Bay-born Tony Shalhoub released his "Feed the Fish" this year. The movie was made in Door County and Shalhoub told me he'd need state help to film any more films in his home state.

"We want to come and do more films," he said. "We have a couple projects that we're working on."

But "Feed the Fish" was made thanks to now-expired incentives.

With a new crew coming into Madison next month, there's been some early talk that something could be in the works to lure film crews to Wisconsin, along with the dollars that film-making brings with it.

Shalhoub brought his movie to this fall's Milwaukee Film Festival, along with other Wisconsin-made features.

But the big news at the film festival came from an intense drama about the breakup of a marriage and a documentary about American education.

Milwaukee moviegoers were among the early viewers of "Blue Valentine," with Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. The movie, which opened the festival, had to battle to overturn a box office-killing NC-17 rating.

As we get ready for Oscar nominations on Jan. 25, there's talk that both stars could end up with nominations.

Then there was "Waiting for Superman," which played to a full house at the Oriental just as it became part of the national education debate. Which ever side of the issue you come down on, the film provoked a healthy discussion.

Both movies have raised my expectations for what we'll see at the next Milwaukee Film Festival.

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.