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Type casting

Rick Jones will play himself in Potterville Oscar winner’s train wreck movie

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Former Sen. Rick Jones’ big crash course in working with media came in 2002 when as Eaton County sheriff he helped evacuate the small town of Potterville in the midst of a nasty train wreck that spilled lots of propane all over the place.

Now it appears that experience is going to get him into the movies, too.

Academy Award-winning director Sam Davis recently met with Jones to talk to him about the train wreck as he researched his planned movie “Cents,” a coming-of-age story about a boy who believes he caused the wreck when he left a penny on the tracks.

During the discussion, Davis asked Jones if he’d be willing to play the sheriff in the film. Jones’ one hangup? They asked him to dye his gray color to the same brownish color it was 18 years ago.

“I’m not thrilled about having my hair dyed, but they want to be historically accurate,” he said.

That’s not all Jones has been up to media-wise since term limits ended his state legislative career on Dec. 31.

Jones, known around the Capitol area for “saving Christmas” by hauling in a nativity scene to combat the satanists’ “snaketivity” display is reliving the experience for Dutch media.

Jones said he recently received a call from a strange number. He almost didn’t pick up, thinking it was a scam, but it turned out to be a TV producer with a thick Dutch accent looking for Jones.

Apparently, the station is doing a documentary on Christianity in America and as part of their research, they stumbled upon Jones’ setting up the nativity scene for five years running.

An assistant director flew to Grand Rapids a week ago to meet with Jones in Charlotte. During the interview, they found that Jones had been a volunteer for Eaton Hospice for 20 years and thought it would be interesting comparing the Dutch system of euthanasia and hospice.

Then they found that Jones was a former sheriff and decided it would be interesting to tour a jail, talking to inmates who had been helped by jail chaplains and a program known as the Forgotten Man Ministry.

Last Saturday, five people flew into Grand Rapids from the Netherlands to meet Jones at the Eaton Community Palliative Care. He not only conducted an interview for Dutch radio and TV, he found them a hospice patient, a former pastor, who agreed to be in the film.

On Tuesday, Jones will be meeting the Dutch crew at the Ottawa County Jail for further filming. The documentary is scheduled for 2020.

Told it sounded like he was just as busy now as he was when he was in office, Jones quipped, “I’m busier!” While we're at it, let's catch up with some other former legislators — Former House Minority Leader Sam Singh is rejoining Lansing-based Public Policy Associates as a senior consultant. Singh worked there for nearly five years until the end of 2012, when he left to become the state representative of the 69th House District.

Singh will be providing consultation on nonprofit management, philanthropy, education, energy and workforce development.

The former East Lansing mayor has also been a senior consultant for the New Economic Initiative and the president and CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

— Former House Speaker Tom Leonard announced this week he’s launching his own policy development and strategic collaboration firm called MiStrategies LLC.

Leonard’s first client is Detroit developer Dan Gilbert’s Quicken Loans.

“It was an honor to work alongside Dan during my time as speaker of the House. His passion for our great state and the city of Detroit are second to none,” Leonard’s statement said.

The former speaker ended up supporting the Gilbert-driven “MiThrive” brownfield tax credit legislation in 2017, despite the charge from some House conservatives that the bills were corporate welfare.

— Former Rep. Tom Cochran (D-Mason) is enjoying his winter decompressing after more than 50 years of being in the workforce.

The former Lansing fire chief conceded that he’s starting to get a little antsy now that he’s catching up on some house projects and could entertain another opportunity if one came along.

(Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS is at melinnky@gmail.com.)

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