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Spotted in Santa Rosa: Actress Sharon Stone, film crew, on month-long Sonoma County shoot

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Actress Sharon Stone had lunch at a Railroad Square restaurant Monday with co-star Dorian Brown as the camera rolled for a scene in the feature film, “Running Wild,” about the plight of wild horses in the drought-stricken American West.

Stone, wearing a bright red shirt, blue jeans and brown boots, seemed at ease as the actresses rehearsed a scene that was actually confrontational, with a movie-making crew of about 50 people jammed inside and outside The Pullman Kitchen on Fifth Street.

The 57-year-old Oscar-nominated actress is cast for the role of Meredith, one of the obstacles Brown’s character, Stella Davis, encounters in her effort to save her family ranch and a herd of starving feral horses, said Christina Moore, co-writer and co-producer.

Stone’s character “represents the opposite point of view,” Moore said, declining to label her as the villain. But Stone, who played a serial killer in “Basic Instinct,” her 1992 breakthrough film, is a commanding screen presence, Moore said.

“She doesn’t really have to do much to scare the s--t out of you,” she said.

The ESX Entertainment production company crew shooting “Running Wild” was in its first day in a month of filming in Sonoma County, said Ali Afshar, the executive producer.

“I like to come back home. I love it here,” said Afshar, who grew up on a Petaluma ranch and graduated from Casa Grande High School in 1991.

Afshar, an actor and professional race car driver, formed ESX along with Forrest Lucas, owner of Lucas Oil Products, which holds naming rights to the Indianapolis Colts NFL stadium, the cable network MAVTV and other enterprises. He was back in the Casa Grande gymnasium in April during filming for another ESX movie called “The Wizard.”

On Monday, no interviews with or photographs of Stone were allowed as the ESX crew, with two truckloads of equipment, took over the building that houses The Pullman Kitchen and Elle Lui salon, which was conducting a training program.

“It’s exciting,” said Shireen Samii, a salon stylist.

Stone, whose film credits date back to 1980, posed nude for the September edition of Harper’s Bazaar and described the impacts of a brain hemorrhage she suffered in 2001. The aneurysm ultimately made her stronger and capable of being “abrasively direct,” Stone said.

“That scares people, but I think that’s not my problem. It’s like, I have brain damage; you’ll just have to deal with it,” she told the magazine.

Moore said the script for “Running Wild,” co-written with Brian Rudnick, is based on the current controversy over an abundant population of wild horses roaming western federal lands where water and food are scarce. “It’s a political hotbed,” she said.

Lucas, whose privately held company’s revenue is estimated at $150 million a year, formed a nonprofit called Protect the Harvest in 2011. The organization’s website says it is fighting “radical groups like the Humane Society of the United States” backing laws “that would restrict the rights and freedoms of farmers, sportsmen and animal owners.”

“American wild horses are in peril due to overcrowding, which has led to starvation and death,” the website says.

The Humane Society’s website says it advocates protection of wild horses that deserve “every chance to live out their lives wild and free.”

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @guykovner.

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