Talk of the town
References to Modesto in television, movies and music date back more than 50 years.
1963: “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” film; Jonathan Winters’ trucker character drives the Modesto-to-Yuma run.
1965-1965: “The Big Valley,” series; Western starring Barbara Stanwyck and Lee Majors is set in and mentions the Stockton/Modesto area.
1972-1977: “The Streets of San Francisco,” series; Michael Douglas’ San Francisco detective was from Modesto.
1972: “Holiday Hotel,” song; Loggins and Messina single includes the lyric “destined for Modesto.”
1973: “American Graffiti,” film; native son George Lucas’ ode to cruising is based on Modesto, but filmed in Petaluma and the city is mentioned by name only in the epilogue.
1980: “Make-Up and Faded Blue Jeans,” song; Merle Haggard single mentions working in a “downtown Modesto” Holiday Inn in the first line.
1985: Murphy’s Romance,” film; Sally Field’s divorced mother character is from Modesto.
1994: “Modesto,” song; Beck track from his album “Stereopathetic Soulmanure” makes vague reference to “contaminated lawns” and “browsing through the supermarket town.”
1996: “Larger Than Life,” film; Bill Murray’s motivational speaker character misses his Modesto speaking date while on a cross-country trip to deliver an inherited elephant.
2001: “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” film; Billy Bob Thornton’s character goes with his wife to a wedding reception for a cousin who just married a “vintner out near Modesto” in the Coen Brothers’ film noir.
2002: “Saturday Night Live,” series; Matt Damon-hosted season première episode features the actor as a park ranger from “the Shawndale Ranch in Modesto, California.”
2003: “The Simpsons,” series; Krusty the Clown runs for Congress and blackmails a fellow congressman, who says he’ll be ruined if “they hear about this in Modesto.”
2003: “Animal House: Where Are They Now?” DVD; a mockumentary to go with the “Double Secret Probation Edition” DVD release of the 1978 cult classic reveals Bruce McGill’s D-Day character is living secretly in Modesto.
2004: “The Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story,” TV movie; the USA network movie starring Dean Cain about the real-life crime was set in Modesto but was primarily filmed in San Diego.
2004: “CSI,” series; lead character Sara Sidle looks up a court case on her abusive mother and the records are from Modesto.
2004: “Modesto Is Not That Sweet,” song; Brooklyn-based indie band The Hold Steady released the song with some bitter lyrics about an ex-love interest who wound up in Modesto.
2004: “Retro Dance Record,” song; Oakland hip-hop artist Mac Dre rapped “For you, I’d walk to Modesto” in the song off his “The Game Is Thick, Vol. 2” album.
2005: “Supernatural,” series; a character’s “uncles from Modesto” are introduced in the pilot episode.
2006: “7th Heaven,” series; one of the series stars must decide between attending college of playing minor-league baseball with the Modesto Nuts.
2006: “Jeez Louise,” song; Modesto indie band Grandaddy included a lyric about being “shacked up at Modesto Inn” in their song off the album “Just Like the Fambly Cat.”
2007: “Zodiac,” film; real-life Bay Area serial-killer drama includes a scene set on “Highway 132, near Modesto” and shows The Modesto Bee on screen.
2008: “Criminal Minds,” series; an episode of the CBS show opens with a murder in Modesto and the team of FBI profilers travels to the city to capture “The Highway 99 Killer,” who was actually murdering victims across the Central Valley along the railroad tracks.
2008: “Jericho,” series; after a nuclear apocalypse, The Modesto Bee is now the “second-largest paper in California.”
2008: “St. Modesto,” song; Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla releases the song with lyrics that include references to the Valley and Altamont.
2008-2014: “Sons of Anarchy,” series; FX crime drama about an outlaw motorcycle club is set in the fictitious Central Valley town of Charming but makes reference to happenings in Modesto throughout its run.
2009: “Monsters v. Aliens,” film; DreamWorks animated 3-D feature opens in Modesto when a meteor strikes the city and starts the action.
2009: “Up In the Air,” film; George Clooney’s corporate downsizer says he is in “Newark on the 12th, Modesto on the 13th,” when trying to coordinate schedules.
2009: “Janky Promoters,” film; comedy starring Ice Cube and Mike Epps as a pair of inept music promoters trying to pull together a Young Jeezy concert is set in Modesto.
2009: “The Mentalist,” series; Sacramento-based crime procedural on CBS has the lead character chide a Modesto city councilman’s wife that she is “the big city” now.
2009: “Entourage,” series; HBO show about the ins and outs of Hollywood mentions “40 idiots from Modesto” who didn’t like a TV pilot.
2012: “Up All Night,” series; Maya Rudolph’s TV-host character shows a somewhat positive review (“They said they’d seen far worse.”) from The Modesto Bee on screen and says, “Thanks, Modesto Bee.”
2013: “The Internship,” movie; Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy has its characters visit an old-age home in a city called Modesto Colony.
2015: “Looking,” series; HBO show about a group of gay friends living in San Francisco has characters take a road trip to Modesto for a family funeral and was filmed in town for some scenes.
2015: “American Crime” series; ABC drama is set in Modesto and used a few background images of the city, while most filming was done in Austin, Texas.