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Tuesday, Jul 08 2014 11:04 PM

LISA KIMBLE: You know what 'sucks,' Eric? Ignorance

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This week, veteran actor Eric Roberts was in Bakersfield to film scenes for his latest project, "Revelations." His interview with a local television news station -- in which he was critical of Bakersfield -- has gone viral. Our community's champions, myself included, have gone on the defensive.

Dear Eric,

I've really, really tried over the years to like you. You're a southerner who got your first acting gig on my favorite soap, "Another World."

Our girls are huge fans of your daughter Emma. And I've even enjoyed a performance or two of yours in some projects whose names escape me.

I even felt sorry for you, wondering what it must be like to be overshadowed by your A-list, Oscar-winning superstar sister, Julia. All the coveted roles went to her. You got the spoils.

But this week, I gave up trying when you opened your mouth to a local television news reporter. "Bakersfield sucks. It's simple. It's a terrible place, geographically, weather-wise, everything."

Whoa. Hold it right there, pal. Them's fighting words, on any movie set, or anyplace.

Granted, there isn't much to love in the dead of summer here, when the mercury climbs to insufferable heights. But this place, where filming will further line your pocketbooks, is a pretty amazing place.

For starters, we are the world's food basket, and a major player in the international oil industry. They don't drive around in limos or fancy cars, but we have more understated "millionaires-next-door" here than you can shake a stick at.

We are a giving, generous lot, with family values you can't put a price tag on. From the High Desert to the High Sierra, and the breathtaking Kern River, our geography that you so inelegantly ran down is world renown. To your credit, you did acknowledge that our people are the "coolest."

"What can I tell you?" you said.

Well I can tell you this: Our town is a Central Valley gem in California's treasure chest, which you won't get to know if you don't stray from the set of filming. So consider this an official invitation from a native and college graduate to an uninformed actor with a high school education, to return for a lesson on this great place we call home, perhaps in the fall when the weather is more pleasant.

I'll drive you around to some sights that have put this place on the map, introduce you to some extraordinary people, treat you to the best Basque food in the world and send you home with a renewed appreciation for Bakersfield.

Lisa Kimble is a former Emmy-award-winning broadcast journalist, producer of The Californian's "Live Well" show and a contributor to BWell and Bakersfield Life magazines.

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