John Schneider turned 61 on Thursday, so he's throwing another Bo's Extravaganza this weekend — but he's not stopping there.
After successfully shooting a chunk of the "Smokey and the Bandit" tribute film "Stand On It" during last year's party at his Holden studios, the actor/singer/producer will film most of its sequel, "Poker Run," over the extravaganza's three days.
"Most movies are kind of shot in secret, but we do our stuff and invite everybody to come enjoy it and to be in it, if they so desire," Schneider said last week. "In fact, I write now so we can do that."
Shooting actually began on Monday, but all the audience participation scenes, as Schneider calls them, will be saved for the weekend.
"So if people want to be in the movie, if they're at the extravaganza, they can be in the movie," he said.
The giant birthday party, open to the public, offers music, celebrity guests, contests, memorabilia available for sale and more in the outdoor setting. New this year, Fort Donelson Relics of Dover, Tennessee, will display Civil War items including swords, guns, uniforms and other collectibles.
The spectators/movie extras also will have a lot to watch.
"We're going to be jumping a boat over a road; we're going to be jumping a boat through a house; we're going to be jumping a cop car into the swamp, and I'm going to be jumping the 'Stand on It' car over a lake," Schneider said. "It's going to be a busy weekend. Busy, busy."
"Poker Run" begins where "Stand On It" left off, he said, and will use all the same main cast.
The plot has the group of players each getting $500,000 to bet on one hand of poker in a winner-take-all scenario in which, in the end, one player walks away with $2.5 million. The film's poker run will start at the studios, head to Tin Lizzy's Landing (a restaurant on the Tickfaw River at Springfield) by car, switch to boats and race to either Boopalus bar and grill or The Prop Stop bar and restaurant (both also on the Tickfaw), then back to car for a race around a dirt track before returning to the studio for the final card and betting.
The former "The Dukes of Hazzard" star, who's reprising his role as Duke from "Stand On It" in the new film, said he's a pretty good poker player.
"I used to play poker every Wednesday night in Hollywood for five or six years," he said. "Maybe after this movie we'll do a poker run for real."
But back to those stunts.
The Hellcat, a modified Dodge Challenger, has been made road-worthy again after its movie moment in a jump across the Tickfaw River for "Stand On It." This time, Schneider said he'll be jumping the Hellcat through a house.
"In true Southern horsepower movie spirit, I hit the dock outside and jump through the house while the guy's standing on the porch drinking beer," Schneider explained with a chuckle. "So I just jump through his fishing camp and keep going down the canal."
That stunt will be shot on Saturday, as will one in which a police car lands in the swamp. On Sunday, the Hellcat will take flight over a lake for another scene.
"Just an ordinary weekend here at the studio," Schneider added, laughing.
The "Poker Run" shooting will continue at least through Tuesday, when a barroom brawl is scheduled.
Making its film debut in "Poker Run" will be Ponchatoula's historic train caboose, which Schneider purchased and had moved to his studios in December. The Illinois Central 9956 car has undergone an interior restoration after sitting dormant next to the Ponchatoula Country Market for years.
"The caboose is where the movie starts and finishes. So that's where your first two cards you get at the caboose, and then the river card finally at the end when somebody wins $2.5 million, they'll be in the caboose," Schneider said. "And it is beautiful now. The inside is gorgeous; the outside is the same. I think I'm going to leave it that way. The inside is all cypress and great old pine. The floor has all been redone with fence boards and then polyurethaned. It's gorgeous. It hasn't looked like this in a long time."
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed Bo's Extravaganza to July in 2020, and current, more relaxed safety guidelines will be in place at this year's event, Schneider said.
Musical guests will include: Saturday and Sunday, John Schneider along with the Stars & Bars Band, Cody McCarver, and Keith Burns; Saturday, Clayton Q, Jack Michael Band, Billy Lord, Joe and Stacy Hudson, Jacob Lyda, former "American Idol" contestant Ashton Gill; and Sunday, Grammy winner Jo-El Sonnier, Wayd Battle, Jimmie Dormire, and Louisiana Hall of Famers the Chase Tyler Band.
Among celebrity guests appearing will be: John Reinke ("The Tiger King"), Ernie Brown Jr. (Turtleman, "Call of the Wildman"), Bruce Mitchell ("Swamp People"), Byron Cherry, Mayf Nutter and Lindsay Bloom (all from "The Dukes of Hazzard"), and the Clydesdale Horses.
Events on Saturday include: an outhouse explosion, Stars N' Cars Parade, and car show. On Sunday, look for the car show awards presentation, a VIP meet and greet breakfast, cowboy church service and Civil War stunts.
During the weekend, Quad VETS along with Southern Boyz Outdoors will be hosting a cook-off benefitting TARC, which serves people with special needs. A "pinching tails" contest also is in the works; look for a link to register upcoming on social media. For questions about the cook-off, call (985) 549-0731.
WHEN: Saturday and Sunday (VIPs Friday)
WHERE: John Schneider Studios, 16050 Florida Blvd., Holden
COST: $30, general admission; $50, weekend pass; $650, VIP.
JOHN SCHNEIDER STUDIOS FILMS: Available at cineflixdod.com