The Sidekick investigates what you didn’t know about Coppell

The Sidekick investigates the secrets of the city

Do the Coppell police have a quota of tickets every month? Find out here. (Photo by Katie Quill)

By Daphne Chen

COPPELL’S CLAIM TO FAME?

Many a Coppell student has heard a peer claim Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan filmed a scene in Coppell, specifically at the duck pond behind First United Methodist Church. So is it true?

“The hard part is that I can’t confirm or deny Borat,” community information officer Sharon Logan said, adding if the movie was filmed at the duck pond, the filmmakers did not get city permission for it. “Sometimes people just show up.”

CHS 2008 graduate and University of Oklahoma sophomore Ryan Puckett allegedly witnessed the filming while driving by with his mother and sister, describing his confusion at seeing “an popsicle truck, a cameraman and some kids” at the duck pond his sophomore year.

“We ended up asking the guys what they were doing, and they said they were filming Borat,” Puckett said. “I didn’t know what it was at the time. Watching the movie, the scene where the little kids run up to the ice cream truck with the bear in it and the bear pops out and runs away, sure enough that’s the duck pond.”

His mother, Kat Puckett, corroborates his story.

“To me, it looked exactly like that,” she said. “I mean, I truly saw it. It was exactly what was on the movie and it was exactly like that with kids jumping around it, and there was a film crew. But unless I could know that for sure they were here, in Dallas, doing any filming of any sort on the movie, I think it is, but I really want it substantiated.

In fact, the film crew was in Dallas in 2005to film a hotel check-in scene at The Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas. Because the duck pond park is public property, those involved in the film technically did have the freedom to film there without getting the city’s explicit approval. Logan also noted the city does not receive any money or compensation in return for letting crews film in Coppell.

 “In the way that they go about doing it, is it legal?” Logan said. “I would say that they’re probably protected by their freedom of speech. Is it ethical? That’s another question.”

Jan Thomas, Location Coordinator at the Dallas Film Commission, agrees that there is no sure way to know.

“As you can imagine from the nature of the film, the Borat film-makers didn’t go through normal channels, nor did they want people to know when or where they planned to film,” Thomas said via e-mail. “Since it was ‘ambush’ type filming, they didn’t get the usual permits or notify either the Film Commission or the various city officials where they filmed.”

A movie that was definitely shot in Coppell, however, is the 2008 straight-to-DVD production Exit Speed, a thriller about 10 people on a bus who become trapped by a motorcycle gang.

“We had a number of us driving around looking around Texas, looking at photos online, and I ended up spotting the property driving home from dropping somebody off at the airport one day,” Dallas entertainment lawyer-turned-producer Sally Helppie said.

That “direction” ended up being on Belt Line Road in Coppell, near the Yucatan Beach Club, where the production crew hauled props into the area in order to get the empty field to look like a junkyard so they could create a fiery explosion.

“The Coppell Fire Department, I have to give a special kudos to,” Helppie said. “They have credits at the end of the movie, because a number of the individual firefighters served as our on-set medics. The day we basically blew up a bus, we had them right there in case things got out of control. They were wonderful.”

WEIRD LAWS

When government teacher Jim Damrau informed his students during a civil rights lesson they could be issued a ticket for offensive hand gestures, specifically one involving the middle finger, The Sidekick decided to investigate.

Damrau is correct, but the charge would be for disorderly conduct, which can refer to a variety of different gestures and actions, and is not unique to Coppell.

“A lot of it has to do with whether the party it’s related to is offended,” Detective Steve Hayes said. “They can be fined for disorderly conduct if the offended party wants to report it, and they’ll have to go to court and go from there.”

Another oft-repeated rumor is what many teens and students describe as the “quota” of tickets that police officers fill every month.

“That is against the law,” Hayes said. “There is no such thing as a quota. Officers can write as many tickets as they want or as few as they want and the city in no way, shape, or form can dictate how many tickets they give. I don’t know if the city manager wants to commit a felony, if you know what I mean.”

SECRETS OF CHS

Few people know that the circular cowboy statue above the horseshoe actually covers up a clock of the same size, a senior class gift for the high school about 10 years ago.

 “I came in one day from the weekend and there was this big, massive, dark feeling when I walked in and the lights weren’t on,” horseshoe receptionist Rita Lucero said. “I felt like it was going to crush me, so I stepped away and looked up, and it was the cowboy that they had replaced it with.”

In fact, Lucero remembers a student from a couple years ago who asked if a clock was behind the statue because he could hear it ticking.

The cowboy statue was built over the clock about ten years ago, when the horseshoe was remodeled.

“It was like the wheel of fortune,” Principal Brad Hunt said. “Kids would hit those clock hands every period, and so often for the first year, the clock just never worked.”

Hunt also revealed some more little known facts about the building.

The senior bridge used to be a conference room.

For example, the senior bridge, which is now the site of traffic jams every passing period, actually used to be a conference room.

“The senior bridge had windows that went all the way up and had a cover,” Hunt said. “We had a big table and doors.”

In fact, many parts of the building designed for one purpose have changed over the years. The current “away” side of the football stadium stands, Hunt says, used to be the “home” side because the school thought it made sense to have the home side closest to the school. Also, the area behind the small commons where parents picked up their kids once mirrored the front of the school, where picnic tables and trees provided a place for students to eat during lunch.

“The thing about our district is that the plan was really progressive, and they knew that the high school had to be built for growth,” Hunt said.

One thing Hunt insists on keeping mum about? The alleged school basement, which he took the 2008-09 Red Jackets to see at the end of the last school year.

“I cannot confirm or deny the existence of the basement,” Hunt said, looking coy and then switching the subject.

In the words of Gossip Girl, it seems like that’s one secret he’ll never tell.