N.M. county wants Kilmer to explain remarks

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By Sue M. Holmes

ALBUQUERQUE — County commissioners want actor Val Kilmer to show up in the next 30 days to explain derogatory comments he’s been quoted as making about northern New Mexico, where he’s lived for more than two decades.

Residents complained about Kilmer at a commission meeting in Las Vegas, this week, alleging he’s made disparaging comments in the past about San Miguel County and has chased away people fishing on the Pecos River at his ranch.

“We had a group of people who came in and were really upset,” Commission Chairman David Salazar said Friday.

The controversy erupted after Kilmer’s Pecos River Ranch sought to open three guest houses to paying customers. The county zoning and planning commission approved the proposal 3-2 in March, but Rowe resident Abran Tapia appealed to the commission.

Salazar said commissioners want to be fair, and asked Kilmer “to give us his point of view and tell us what he said or he didn’t say.”

Others at the meeting stood up for the actor, saying he was misquoted or statements were taken out of context, Salazar said.

The commission sent a letter Wednesday to Kilmer’s ranch manager, asking Kilmer to appear within 30 days but offering more time if he needs it, County Attorney Jesus Lopez said.

“I think the County Commission has given him a great opportunity to make amends and to come clean and seek the friendship of the people here,” Lopez said.

The Albuquerque Journal reported in a copyright story Friday that Kilmer said he’ll go before the commission to discuss the issue within the month.

Messages left by The Associated Press for Kilmer at his ranch, with his agent and on a cell phone were not immediately returned.

Northern New Mexicans have been upset with Kilmer since an October 2003 Rolling Stone article quoted him as saying he lives in the “homicide capital of the Southwest” and 80 percent “of the people in my county are drunk.”

Kilmer denied the statements, saying he bragged about New Mexico during the interview. Rolling Stone stood by the article. Days later, Kilmer took out an ad in the Santa Fe New Mexican, saying he loves New Mexico and Pecos.

Kilmer starred as rock icon Jim Morrison in the 1991 Oliver Stone film, “The Doors,” played gunslinger Doc Holliday in “Tombstone” in 1993 and Batman in “Batman Forever” in 1995. He’s done films in New Mexico, including “Conspiracy” and “Comanche Moon” in 2008.