ROSLYN, Wash. - This small Upper Kittitas County town has been Cicely, Alaska, for nearly 25 years, and now it's going to be Canon City, Colo.
It was the fictional city of Cicely in the cult-classic TV series "Northern Exposure," and fans still make frequent pilgrimages to pose for pictures in front of The Brick Saloon or the Roslyn Cafe.
And now it's a stand-in for the 1962 version of Canon City in a new adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel "The Man in the High Castle," which is being executive-produced by Ridley Scott, whose work includes "Blade Runner," "Thelma & Louise," "Gladiator" and "Black Hawk Down."
"The Man in the High Castle" is a Hugo Award-winning novel Scott has been working to adapt for years. It is set in an alternate universe in which the Axis powers won World War II, leaving Germany and Japan as superpowers that control North America. Much of its appeal to Dick fans - a group known for their fanatical devotion - stems from its metaphysical themes and the questions it raises about the authenticity and "reality" of any universe.
For now, the crew in Roslyn is just shooting scenes for an Amazon.com-produced pilot. In addition to Scott, the names associated with the production include "X-Files" producer Frank Spotnitz, "Lost" producer Jean Higgins and actors Alexa Davalos, D.J. Qualls, Rupert Evans and Cary Tagawa. Depending on the pilot's reception, it could continue as a series.
"We hope that happens," said Nolan Weis, a Roslyn city councilman, who will be an extra in the production. "I want to be a part of a sweet, successful production. You never know where that can take you."
Much of Pennsylvania Avenue, Roslyn's main drag, was unrecognizable last week.
The Roslyn Cafe's camel mural, made famous by "Northern Exposure," was covered temporarily.
"People come from all over the world to get their pictures taken in front of that camel," said Weis. "Right now they're doing so much with it, you can't even recognize it."
The Roslyn Cafe wasn't the only town mainstay transformed. Harper Lumber Co. had become Canon Variety. A rental store down the block posed as a diner. Period-appropriate gas pumps were brought in. It really did look like 1962, and the production crew didn't even have to change much.
"That is the charm of the old," said Stan Slater, who has lived in Roslyn for 45 years and is known to its residents as Stan the Man. "It's not perfect. But it's the imperfections that make Roslyn the town that it is."
That's why "Northern Exposure" producers chose it, he said, pointing out that the 1979 Dick Van Dyke film "The Runner Stumbles" was also shot here.
"It's authentic," added Deborah Hoffman, who owns Stonehouse 101, a banquet and meeting facility in downtown Roslyn. "It's not a sound stage."
Roslyn, population 895, began as mining and a timber town. But the coal gave out decades ago and timber production is also largely a thing of the past. More recently, especially since the development of the nearby Suncadia resort a decade ago, it has become a tourist destination, prized for its rustic mountain charm.
The association with "Northern Exposure" has been a big part of the town's evolution, Slater said.
"The old-timers hated it," he said. "But the businesses loved it. And as time went on, more and more people loved it. It brought the tourists here and kept the town from dying on the vine."
Weis said he hopes "The Man in the High Castle" will have a similar effect. Already it has made an economic impact, inasmuch as producers have rented local buildings for shooting and have hired local people as extras. They've even rented some residents' cars for use in the movie, such as Andy Vlahovic's 1958 Chevrolet Biscayne. They used Hoffman's building, Stonehouse 101, as a place for preparing extras, giving her weekday rental fees she otherwise wouldn't have.
Plus, it might just show up in the program, she said.
"It's always exciting to be able to recognize your small town in the background," Hoffman said. "You always want to watch to see if your place is in there."