News & Events

Bridgewater watched lights, camera, and explosive action

By Hannah McBride and Noah Bierman
Boston Globe
September 27, 2009

Anyone who was awake near dawn in Bridgewater yesterday may have noticed a boom, followed by a giant shooting fireball over one of the town’s cornfields. Not to worry. The dismantled 727 aircraft had not crashed or blown up, despite the 200-foot-tall mushroom cloud that rose above it.

Hollywood had come to town and choreographed one of those elaborate scenes action-adventure fans have come to expect. “It was an amazing fireball in the sky, very controlled situation. At no point was any of the public in jeopardy,’’ said Lieutenant Bob Mancinelli, of the Bridgewater Fire Department.

Members of the public who wanted to catch a glimpse were kept far away, he said. Mancinelli and at least 50 other public safety professionals from local and neighboring departments stayed up all night for the spectacle, joining hundreds of film crew, who were working on the movie starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.

Officials with 20th Century Fox are calling the movie “Wichita,’’ an “action comedy’’ scheduled for release next summer. Entertainment magazine Variety said Cruise plays “a secret agent who pops in and out of the life of a single woman.’’

Elizabeth Boutilier said she nabbed a spot in her neighbors’ backyard on sleepy Curve Street, where they had started two bonfires. Boutilier, 17, had dozed off, curled up in a chair with a blanket, when the fireball exploded.

“As soon as I heard it, I was up in a flash,’’ she said. The detonation was so big, “it was the only thing you could focus on.’’

She said about 50 people milled around waiting for the explosion, which was pushed back several times as the night wore on. A crew member was updating the crowd with instructions from the set via walkie-talkie.

“He would say, ‘Rolling,’ and we had to be completely silent,’’ she said. “Then he would say, ‘Cut!’ and we could talk again.’’

Christine Sprague, another Curve Street resident who could see the movie scene from her backyard, said her family camped out from midnight until around 5 a.m. when the explosion was set off.’’

“You’re sitting there and you’re covered in blankets. You’re waiting an awful long time,’’ she said. “And then all of a sudden you heard, ‘3. . . 2. . .’ – I’m still getting goose bumps – it was ‘3. . . 2. . . BOOM!’ And that was it.’’

Sprague said the free entertainment gave the gathering a festive atmosphere, with children playing and dancing.
“It was fun, we were laughing hysterically,’’ she said. “You get caught up in the moment.’’

Sprague, her husband, and two sons, 13 and 16, stuck around until the sun came up, said “good night’’ to the neighbors, and retired inside to catch a few hours of sleep. “It was definitely worth waiting for,’’ she said.

Timed pyrotechnics kept the flames in parts of the faux plane smoldering after the initial fire, giving it a realistic appearance. Even professionals like Mancinelli and his friends in the department were impressed with the realism.

“I hope to God that we never have to witness or respond to anything of the magnitude of this,’’ he said.

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Lights, camera, boom!

Hard-core Hollywood fans catch action at movie-set blast

By Lauren Carter
Boston Herald
September 27, 2009

BRIDGEWATER – Yesterday morning’s staged aircraft explosion here attracted its share of eager would-be spectators hoping for a show of Hollywood magic.

But the stargazers who hung around long enough to see a broken 727 fuselage go up in flames at 5:30 a.m. were a die-hard few.

Dozens of locals set up camp near Curve Street, where Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz were filming part of their new movie “The Untitled Wichita Project.”

A “Curve Street Residents Only” sign and detail officers kept wannabe onlookers out of the filming area, a 263-acre farm. Said Kevin Chiocca, a retired Bridgewater police lieutenant: “We’re just here to see that the well-meaning curiosity-seekers don’t interfere with the production.”

Chiocca said several had been arrested for trespassing by midnight. Those who opted not to go to jail congregated at lookout spots on Auburn and Summer streets.

Carol Blackden, 52, of Bridgewater, said she’d been hanging around all week in hopes of reliving her days as an extra on such locally shot movies as “Witches of Eastwick.”

“Mercury is in retrograde right now, and usually you want to recapture the past,” said Blackden, a former Navy photojournalist and now a fortune teller. “I’m trying to go down memory lane and see if I can recapture my youth.”
It would be a long stretch of idle staring. By 4 a.m., many took to beeping horns, flashing lights and yelling, “Start the fire!”

By 4:30 a.m., 18-year-old Tony Lopez of Raynham gave up, calling the experience “cold and disappointing.” His friend Mike Moynahan, 17, of Bridgewater, hung on until 5:20 a.m. “I figured it’d be something fun, but it was a very long experience of nothing,” he said.

Just 10 minutes later, the few bystanders with star-powered stamina were jarred out of semiconsciousness with a glowing fireball and thunderclap followed by a mushroom cloud of smoke, all highly visible from a field off Summer Street.

“Awesome,” said John Falvey, 39, of West Bridgewater, who had just gotten off work as a trucker. “I expected it to be more of a cheesy gasoline fireball. It was a legitimate explosion. Very intense.”

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NECN: Hollywood comes to Bridgewater – Sept 09

September 25, 2009 (NECN: John Moroney, Bridgewater, Mass.) – Taking movie making to new heights in Massachusetts. Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are shooting a film in Bridgewater.

Tonight, a little Hollywood magic will light up the night sky.

Curve Street in Bridgewater is closed as Hollywood turns a very large cornfield into a movie set. On the corn field is a Boeing 727 that is set to blown up after midnight.

NECN’s John Moroney has more on the film, and the economic impact to the surrounding towns.

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Stoughton, Brockton businessmen go Hollywood

by Vicki-Ann Downing
September 25, 2009

It isn’t just a Bridgewater cornfield that’s been transformed for the new movie starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.

A garage in Chelsea, an elderly housing complex in Boston and a kiosk in Woburn have been made over as well, thanks to businessmen Michael Cohen of Stoughton and Steve Fishman of Brockton. Cohen, 48, owner of Signs by J in Dorchester, and Fishman, 59, owner of Capeway Aluminum in Brockton, are teaming up to make the exterior of the Chelsea Department of Public Works garage look like a garage from the 1960s.

The moviemakers wanted forest green aluminum awnings with an ivory stripe to cover seven windows and a door at the garage. Fishman ordered the material from a supplier in Ohio, assembled the awnings at his company in Brockton, then boxed them for shipping to the site, where filming is expected to take place next week.

“We’ll have to watch the movie to see if the awnings are in there,” said Fishman, whose family business, founded in 1963, has seven full-time employees.

Fishman heard about the movie job through Cohen, whose company, on Tenean Street in Dorchester, has supplied awnings and signs for other films, including “The Departed” and “The Town,” both filmed in Boston, and “The Perfect Storm” in Gloucester.

In fact, Signs by J has been transforming storefronts for movies and commercials since 1978, when Cohen’s father-in-law owned the company and did the work for “The Brinks Job,” said Cohen.

“They’re good little jobs. It starts to add up quick,” said Cohen. “They give us a design, we do field measurements and manufacture the awnings.”

On Monday, movie crews were on Harrison Avenue in Boston to film a street scene for the Cruise-Diaz movie, Cohen said. Signs by J made an elderly housing complex look like a French bistro for that one and changed the face of another restaurant across the street.

Cohen said he was amazed at how quickly the area ca me alive with spectators eager to get a glimpse of the filming. Signs by J also manufactured a coffee kiosk for the movie’s set in Woburn.

The company, which Cohen owns with his brother-in-law, Ed Jagiello of Lakeville, has eight full-time employees and has been in business for 46 years. Cohen charged $8,000 for the Harrison Avenue work and $4,000 for the kiosk. Fishman said the aluminum awnings for the Chelsea garage cost $4,000 to buy and install.

“It’s unexpected work that comes through your door,” said Cohen. “They know I can get it done for them and that’s why they keep coming to me. I didn’t have the material they wanted for the garage, so I contacted Steve and he got it. I get the job done and they keep coming back.”

Vicki-Ann Downing can be reached at

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Studio project secures big loan

$550m deal will aid construction on Plymouth site

By Christine Legere
Boston Globe
September 25, 2009

PLYMOUTH – A team of California film executives who came to Plymouth two years ago with a plan to build the first full-fledged production studio on the East Coast announced yesterday that they have secured a $550 million loan to begin construction on Plymouth Rock Studios later this year.

Plymouth Rock Studios said Prosperity International LLC, an Orlando-based firm, has agreed to be the direct lender for the project. “This is a huge private sector vote of confidence for the industry here in Massachusetts,’’ said Nicholas Paleologos, executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office.

“This project is going to have a dramatic impact in the long run. It turns Massachusetts from a seasonal production state to a full-blown year-round production state. That’s a quantum leap forward.’’

According to a statement from Plymouth Rock, the studio “must provide the lender with acceptable security in the form of a bank instrument issued from a major bank’’ as a condition of the loan.

Prosperity International principal Michael Burgess said yesterday that representatives from his firm and the studio would probably make a joint announcement detailing the financial arrangements in the next week or so. “This is an extremely large project as far as Prosperity is concerned, but the funding will be provided over a period of time,’’ Burgess said.

After they get the money, Plymouth Rock Studios executives say their next step will be to purchase Waverly Oaks Golf Club, the 240-acre target site that carries a price tag of $16.5 million. The deal is set to close in November, about the same time construction on a $50 million access road to the facility will get underway. Studio construction is scheduled to begin in earnest in the spring and the studio’s executives say they are hoping to open for business in spring 2012.

Plymouth Rock has estimated the venture will create more than 2,000 high-income jobs. Plans call for the studio complex to include 14 soundstages, a 10-acre back lot, production and post-production facilities, a theater, and an “amenity village’ that could include a grocery store, pharmacies, and hair salons. Planners will provide space for a major hotel. The facility will allow producers to make movies and television shows, from start to finish, on the site, studio developers say.

“This is a seriously large deal in a terrible economy,’’ said Plymouth Rock’s real estate partner, Bill Wynne , who praised the company officials who came up with the studio plan.

Plymouth Rock has spent about $11 million on engineering studies and plans that were needed to secure local permits, as well as on material required for its 1,000-page environmental impact study. Before construction on the studio can begin, the state must sign off on the environmental impact report, which was submitted Sept. 15.

Wynne said he hopes state environmental officials will agree the company’s proposed measures for protecting the environment are sufficient and approve the report before the end of this year. That might be optimistic because the Eel River Association, a local group, has expressed concern over the proposed wastewater treatment plan. The organization says the discharge of water into the Eel River Watershed could degrade water quality. If the state Executive Office of Environmental Affairs agrees with Eel River Watershed advocates, studio officials could be asked to provide more information or to adjust their treatment plan.

While the local Planning Board has already signed off on a so-called master site plan for the project, more specific information on each of its components will be required as building moves forward.

“This whole project is going to come to life in the next month,’’ Wynne said. “We obviously had to focus on the capital. Now that we have access to the money, we can start to implement the visions, goals, and dreams we’ve talked about.’’

Plymouth Rock Studios has had its share of obstacles during the last two years, starting with problems over murky titles on the 1,000 acre Plymouth property it originally targeted. The site was abandoned in summer 2008 in favor of Waverly Oaks.

Plymouth Town Meeting representatives gave the project a crucial endorsement in October 2008, approving property tax breaks as well as a zoning change necessary for studio construction. In June, the state denied $50 million in infrastructure funding, causing a delay. Robert Bliss, spokesman for the state Department of Administration and Finance, noted yesterday that the film industry is already getting “big tax credits’’ for film work done in the state.

Christine Legere can be reached at

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Studio scores $550M loan

Plymouth’s ‘Hollywood East’ to start construction soon

By Thomas Grillo
Boston Herald
September 25, 2009

Plymouth Rock Studios reached a milestone yesterday with a $550 million construction loan for its proposed $1 billion film, television and digital studio campus in Plymouth.

“This brings us much closer to developing the next generation studio in Plymouth,” said Plymouth Rock CEO Earl Lestz in a statement.

William Wynne, president of Plymouth Rock Real Estate Investment, called the loan a “giant step” toward getting construction started in November.

Prosperity International, a Florida-based firm, will serve as the lender.

Wynne dismissed skeptics who questioned the loan, which is coming at a time when few deals of this size have been approved.

“Prosperity has global institutional partners with capital north of $20 billion,” he said. “They’ve been in business for a long time and this type of financing is common in Europe. They looked at the fact that the entertainment business is recession-proof and one of the few growing industries.”

The project has received approval for its master site plan from the Plymouth Planning Board and has obtained a waiver from the secretary of Environmental Affairs to allow for an access road that will serve the studio and a neighboring public school.

But the complex still needs approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection and from Plymouth voters next month for the access road.

Upon completion in 2012, the complex will feature 14 soundstages and 10 acres of exterior sets.

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Hollywood action to roll in Bridgewater cornfield

By Jenna Russell
Boston Globe Staff
September 25, 2009

Plane in Bridgewater cornfield

BRIDGEWATER – It might be the sleepiest street in the quietest corner of this low-key town 30 miles south of Boston. But Hollywood came to Curve Street yesterday, setting up camp in a cornfield at the end of a dusty dirt road.

It was high-octane Hollywood, too: Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, fake plane wreckage from a fictional jetliner crash, and a staged explosion, set to detonate tonight after midnight, expected to shoot flames and a mushroom cloud of smoke 200 feet into the air.

Needless to say, Chris Sprague, a 13-year-old Curve Street resident, was taking a lot of calls from his friends.
“They want to come and have a sleepover for the next two days,’’ he said.

Given the fat Massachusetts tax incentives that have recently lured a steady stream of Hollywood talent, celebrity sightings in the suburbs have become almost everyday fare: Sandra Bullock’s car is hit by a drunk driver in Gloucester. Adam Sandler chows down at the Hamilton House of Pizza. Martin Scorsese takes over an old mill in Taunton. Add the plans to build a Hollywood East megacomplex in Plymouth, and the day may come when movie crews and starlets don’t warrant a second glance.

In Bridgewater yesterday – at least on Curve Street, where residents lingered in yards and on porches – that day had not yet come. Christine Sprague, Chris’s mother, said she was keeping a close eye on the set through her kitchen window, and planned to stay up past her normal bedtime tonight to take pictures of the fireball slated to light up her backyard.

Elsewhere in the town of 25,000, enthusiasm for the movie shoot was muted by the cinch-tight security around the set and surrounding neighborhood. Streets in the area were closed to all but resident traffic, and police stood sentry, quizzing drivers. There was no place to gather and gawk, and for almost everyone except the Bridgewater firefighters who will help extinguish the staged blaze tonight, no chance of seeing the stars.

Still, some dared to dream.

“If Tom Cruise came and ate here, he’d come back again,’’ boasted an exuberant, red-haired Ronald Ferrone, draping slices of American cheese atop a hot steak sub at his Bedford Street takeout stand, Sonny’s Hot Dog. Two pyrotechnics experts from Los Angeles, in town to work on the movie, had already stopped by for pastrami sandwiches, he said.

Officials with 20th Century Fox have released few details about the movie, an “action comedy’’ scheduled for release next summer and known, mysteriously, as the “Untitled Wichita Project.’’ According to the Hollywood Reporter, its plot follows “a lonely woman whose seemingly harmless blind date turns her life upside down when a superspy takes her on a violent worldwide journey.’’

In recent weeks, the movie’s crew has taken over Gaslight brasserie in the South End and the Worcester Regional Airport, which was reportedly used as a stand-in for the Wichita, Kan., airport, with props including imported copies of that city’s newspaper.

Wichita’s mayor, Carl Brewer, said yesterday that he was doubtful the essence of his city could be captured in Massachusetts. He urged filmmakers to reconsider, and said he would be glad to show them around the real Wichita – the largest city in Kansas with 361,000 people, and the self-styled “aviation capital of the world,’’ where the largest employers are Boeing, Cessna, and Raytheon Aircraft.

“It’s not too late,’’ he said. The mayor’s administrative assistant, Becky Fields, was looking on the bright side.
“At least it’s Boston,’’ she mused. “It could be a whole lot worse. It could be Des Moines, Iowa. We should probably be flattered.’’

A source close to the film production said the reasons for choosing the cornfield in Bridgewater included its size and the maturity of its crop. Cranberry farmer Stan Kravitz, chairman of the Bridgewater Board of Selectmen, said he expects the town to take in as much as $150,000 in exchange for its participation, including $40,000 to compensate the Fire Department, additional payments for police details, and a donation to the town’s senior center, which was used as a base camp away from the set.

Kravitz said he could not recall Bridgewater playing a similar role since shots of Bridgewater state prison were used in a movie about the Boston Strangler. “I’m just enjoying seeing the town have fun,’’ he said. “It could all still end up on the cutting room floor.’’

Jenna Russell can be reached at

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SUFFOLK POLL: Voters support film tax credit by wide margin

Tax credits for movie companies were favored by 64 percent and opposed by 20 percent.

September 24, 2009

The STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE reported yesterday that Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approve of the film tax credit—which, since 2006, has resulted in a dramatic increase in film and television production in the state.

The question (below) was part of a survey of 500 registered voters conducted between September 12th and 15th by Suffolk University and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent. Of those polled, 39 percent were registered Democrats, 15 percent Republicans, and 44 percent independents.

64% of those polled favored the film tax credit, 20% opposed it, and 16% were undecided.

Support for the film tax credit has remained strong, despite the economic downturn. A similar poll, conducted in August of 2008 showed 63% in favor, 22% opposed, and 15% undecided.

Other poll results:

— 38 percent said the state was heading in the right direction and 51 percent said it was on the wrong track;

— 54 percent supported adding a recall vote to allow citizens to remove an elected official for underperformance, with 38 percent against;

— A plan to repeal the recently enacted sales tax hike was supported 59-36;

— A plan to eliminate all tolls was supported by 35 percent and opposed by 60 percent;

— By an 81-17 margin, those polled said they support changing Massachusetts law to allow terminally or seriously ill patients to use, grow and purchase marijuana for medical purposes if they have the approval and are under supervision of their physicians.

Here is the exact language of the film tax credit question:

A recent tax credit for movie companies has resulted in fourteen movies made in Massachusetts in the past twelve months. Proponents say the tax credit is good because it bring jobs and new money into the state. Opponents say that a tax credit for movie companies is bad policy because it costs the state more than it is worth, given other state programs that need revenue.

Which is closer to your view?

N= 500 100%

Tax credit good – added jobs and new money (322) 64%

Tax credit for movie companies is bad policy (100) 20%
because cost is too high

Undecided (74) 15%

Refused (4) 1%

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YouTube: Mark Wahlberg trains for THE FIGHTER — Aug 2009

September 23, 2009 — Mark Wahlberg trains for his role in THE FIGHTER–shot in Lowell, Massachusetts in the summer of 2009.

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Columbia casts trio in Facebook film

Timberlake, Eisenberg, Garfield added to ‘Network’

September 22, 2009

Columbia Pictures and director David Fincher have set the core cast for “The Social Network,” the Aaron Sorkin-scripted drama about the formation of Facebook.

Jesse Eisenberg will play Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg; Justin Timberlake will play Sean Parker, the Napster co-founder who became Facebook’s founding president; and Andrew Garfield will play Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook co-founder who fell out with Zuckerberg over money.

Production will begin next month in Boston and then move to Los Angeles.

Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti and Cean Chaffin will produce. Kevin Spacey is exec producer.

Script focuses on the evolution of Facebook, the online social network created in 2004 on the Harvard campus, and how overnight success and wealth changed the lives of the classmates who created it. Eisenberg, who went from “The Squid and the Whale” to “Adventureland,” locked the central role as Zuckerberg as Columbia prepares to release his latest film, “Zombieland,” on Oct. 2.

Timberlake was most recently seen in “The Open Road,” Garfield in the Terry Gilliam-directed “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.”

Eisenberg’s repped by ICM, Timberlake by WME and managers Rick Yorn and Jennifer Davisson-Killoran, and Garfield by CAA.

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Tom Cruise-ing in the South End

By Simone Press and Ira Kantor
Boston Sunday Herald
September 20, 2009

Tom Cruise in the South End
Photo by John Wilcox
Tom Cruise shot a scene yesterday at Stella in the South End.

Hollywood hunk Tom Cruise gave Hub fans an unexpected treat yesterday by turning up in the South End to film scenes for his latest flick at Gaslight restaurant alongside A-list hottie Cameron Diaz.

The pair star in a new action comedy, tentatively titled “Wichita.” The film features Cruise as a secret agent popping in and out of the life of single mom Diaz.

Outside Gaslight, the Academy Award-nominated heartthrob told the Inside Track that filming local scenes, including at Worcester Regional Airport, has “been a blast.”

“It’s been a great first week,” Cruise said before departing in a black Escalade. On Friday night, Katie Holmes, Daddy Cruise and little Suri had dinner at Abe & Louie’s on Boylston Street.

Some fans, such as Cara Tirrell of Ashland, grilled Cruise for pledging allegiance to the New York Yankees. Tom played it up, telling the crowd he has a lot of friends who are Red Sox fans and wants to see the Sox in the playoffs.

“We didn’t even know he was there,” said Tirrell, a 37-year-old mental health clinician. “We just stumbled onto the scene.”

Cruise and Diaz also will film a post-plane-crash scene in Bridgewater. However, a chunk of an old Boeing 727 slated for the set was nearly derailed Friday after being stuck on a flatbed truck in Longmeadow for about 18 hours.

The fuselage was being sent from North Carolina to Bridgewater for inclusion in an explosion scene on a 263-acre corn field. Longmeadow police Lt. Gary Fontaine said the truck carrying the fuselage remained parked at a rest area on Route 5, where “it wasn’t blocking traffic,” before being escorted by state police to Bridgewater between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Friday afternoon. The truck driver told WWLP Ch. 22 News that the trip, which should take two days, has taken nearly two weeks. The network reported the delay was because the driver was awaiting state permits.

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Movie is a boon for biz

Filming generates economic ripples

By Martin Luttrell
September 19, 2009

WORCESTER — When set designer Jay R. Hart walked into the Putnam Hallmark store in Webster Square Plaza last week, Daniel B. LeBlanc was interested in knowing what went into filming a feature movie at Worcester Regional Airport. One thing he learned is that a big budget film can deliver a blockbuster economic spinoff for local businesses.

Mr. LeBlanc, marketing director and buyer for the Putnam card and gift store, said the production company that spent weeks transforming the mostly quiet Worcester airport to resemble Wichita Airport needed props for a gift shop being built in the terminal. Mr. Hart arranged for two visits to the store, in which merchandise worth several thousand dollars was purchased, including candy, cards, plush toys and stained-glass items.

Mr. LeBlanc would not say for the record specifically how much 20th Century Fox spent in his store, citing a confidentiality agreement, but said it was huge.

“We were just flattered,” he said. “We feel like we’re part of the movie. I’m flattered that they chose us.

“Some of the items, Yankee Candles and stained glass, were wiped out. Yankee Candle is thrilled, and they’re working with us to re-supply us. We are extremely happy they chose Worcester, and that they came into the store. We’ve very close to the airport, and we could hear the helicopters go in and out.”

The helicopters were shuttling the film’s stars, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, along with crew members. Over the last month, the airport terminal was transformed to a movie set. That means jobs for local carpenters, painters and electricians. It also results in members of the crew staying in local hotels, dining in area restaurants, and spending money in the region’s stores, said Nicholas Paleologos, executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office.

“It’s those kinds of things that ripple through the local economy,” he said. “When they come in, it’s an army of carpenters and painters.”

He did not have an estimate of how much economic impact the film, in its early stages of production at various locations in the state, could have. He pointed out the North Shore town of Essex received $150,000 from a different movie production there earlier this year, and the financially strapped Franklin Park Zoo in Boston raked in $350,000 for a feature film shot there this year.

Richard P. Walsh, spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates Worcester Regional Airport, said that because Direct Air — the charter air carrier that flies out of the airport — did not have any flights scheduled during the week, there was no interruption of commercial air traffic at the airport. Filming started on Tuesday and was to wrap up yesterday.

Some of the general aviation pilots who use the airport ended up being employed as extras in the filming, he said.

The film production company is also paying fees for preparing the terminal for filming and the actual filming, as well as paying for airport labor, maintenance and operations personnel, Mr. Walsh said. He declined to estimate how much that would total, saying they expect to have a better idea of the revenues by next week. Revenues related to the filming will be used for the airport’s operating costs, he said.

Aside from the monetary windfall the local economy receives, the city and airport will benefit from good exposure as the location of a major motion picture, said Patrick Lynch, executive director of Destination Worcester, a tourism marketing entity that helps attract events and conventions.

“People will watch the movie and go, ‘Hey, that’s Worcester airport,’ We’re seeing more films shot in the state,” he said. “With the economy the way it is, it’s nice to see Hollywood here spending some money.”

The kind of publicity that goes with a high-profile movie production is priceless, said Donna J. McCabe, president of Central Massachusetts Convention and Visitors Bureau. She pointed out some of the immediate exposure with television show host Jay Leno interviewing Cruise and Diaz at the airport earlier this week.

“The movie studios are becoming more familiar with Central Mass. and what we have to offer,” she said. “This is a win-win for the city to get them here. The crew has been here for weeks, and all those hotel nights are booked. All that helps our economy.

“We’ve had films come here to Central Mass., and we’re seeing more and more coming. The state’s film office is trying to secure more of a piece of the pie.”

Mr. Paleologos agreed.

“This is the most ambitious film we’ve had here in Massachusetts,” he said. “With every one of these pictures the state handles, it changes the reputation the state has with filmmakers. Now you have high-profile filmmakers that know you can. They talk to each other, and good news travels fast.”

Martin Luttrell can be reached at:

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Playhouse to reopen as theater for foreign films

By D.C. Denison
Boston Globe
September 18, 2009

Forget the Sundance Channel. Those who love watching independent and foreign films on a big screen in a real movie house are going to have a new venue right in Boston’s Theatre District.

More than 10 years after the last movie was shown at what is now the Stuart Street Playhouse, David Bramante, operator of the West Newton Cinema and the Belmont Studio Cinema, has signed an operating agreement to reopen the facility as a movie theater on Oct. 9.

Bramante is planning to program the theater, owned by the Boston real estate developer JPA Corp., with independent and foreign films, a similar approach to the one at West Newton Cinema. The Playhouse, at the Radisson Hotel Boston at the corner of Charles Street South and Stuart Street, has in recent years been hosting live theater and other performances.

But many moviegoers remember it as the Sack Cinema 57, which opened in the early 1970s and showed mainstream movies until 1996, when it was converted to a live venue. Although the theater was built as a two-screen cinema, it will reopen as a single-screen theater with 435 seats.

Most recently, the Playhouse has been operating under the leadership of Nick Paleologos, who was the producing director of the Playhouse from 2000 until June 2009. There, he staged live productions like “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris’’ and “Forever Plaid.’’ Paleologos, who currently serves as executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office, said he has “mixed emotions’’ about the transition.

“On the one hand, you hate to see a beautiful live theater being taken off the market,’’ he said. “But on the other, it’s great to see a classic art house cinema returning to downtown Boston.’’

Bramante has been courting the owners of the Stuart Street facility for years, he said, regularly floating the idea of converting it into a movie house for non-mainstream films. A few months ago, after the theater went dark for the summer, Bramante was able to work out a deal.

The name of the theater will remain the Stuart Street Playhouse.

Despite competition from cable television, DVDs, and the Internet, Bramante said, there is a market for a downtown showcase for new independent and foreign films.

“There’s nothing like it in the city,’’ he said. “Going out to a good movie, at $10 a ticket, is still a great entertainment value.’’

D.C. Denison can be reached at

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Brush with celebrity

Hub art galleries, shops get a business lift from movie-making boomlet

By Johnny Diaz
Boston Globe
September 17, 2009

When movie set decorator Debbie Cutler needed sculptures and paintings for one of the character’s homes in the Bruce Willis futuristic thriller “Surrogates,’’ she knew where to get her art props: Boston-based Lanoue Film Arts.

The company, located on Newbury Street, rents art, from original oil paintings to vintage photographs, for movie and TV productions filmed in Massachusetts. For “Surrogates,’’ about a world where humans interact through robots, Cutler leased 60 pieces of artwork, including a sculpture featuring two contorted human forms reaching out to each other.

“The characters do exist in our mind,’’ said Cutler, who has also leased artwork for the 2007 movie “The Women’’ and the Ben Affleck movie “The Town,’’ which is currently being shot here. She added that “as a decorator, I have to think about not what I like, but what would’’ the characters like.

As the film industry booms in Massachusetts, it’s creating a ripple effect across many businesses. Some come readily to mind, such as caterers and hotels. But others are more obscure such as galleries and antique shops that lease or sell paintings, maps, and photographs that are used to make the characters’ homes and offices look and feel real on screen. Although these firms don’t see their names in the film’s closing credits, they get bragging rights – as well as return customers when the next production comes to town.

“Now that the pictures are rolling in, one right after the other, word of mouth drives filmmakers back to a lot of the same places that they patronized before,’’ said Nick Paleologos, executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office, which has created a listing on its website of businesses that lease and sell art props for the productions. The art rental business, Paleologos said, “becomes a thriving industry beneath the surface.’’

In 2006, only two films were made in Massachusetts. That number jumped to 13 last year with films that in total generated $452 million, such as “Shutter Island,’’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and “Surrogates,’’ which opens next week. This year, 10 films have finished or are currently filming in the state. Film industry officials and business owners say film producers have been attracted by a tax credit for in-state productions and two proposed movie studios on the South Shore.

The influx has created a growing source of revenue for local galleries. The amount a gallery or shop charges for lending its work depends on the art, the budget of the movie, and the amount of time the art is used, gallery owners and film officials say. One estimate by, an online consultant, holds that rental fees run at around 10 percent of the art’s retail value for the first week, and 5 percent for the following week and third week.

Russ Gerard, who owns Gerard Arts in the South End, said he charged around $4,000 to lend about 50 pieces – lamps and artsy scientific-looking tools and apparatus – used in “Surrogates.’’ When scenes had to be reshot six months later, he charged about $5,000. For the movie “Edge of Darkness,’’ filmed in Boston last fall, the art director bought nine pieces from Gerard, which included a 1930 Art Deco architectural rendering and two celestial charts from 1801.

“It’s clearly something that has provided some income during the downtime,’’ Gerard said.

That’s one of the reasons Susan Lanoue, owner of Lanoue Fine Art in Boston, and her husband, Mark, a film producer, decided to launch a spinoff business to lease art to local movie productions. They got the idea five years ago after the Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore baseball movie “Fever Pitch’’ filmed next door to their gallery. Film representatives asked the couple if they could place a bronze sculpture to be displayed in their gallery’s front window, which appeared in the background of a scene.

In 2007, Cutler, the set decorator, reached out to the Lanoues for artwork for the movie “The Women,’’ which starred Annette Bening and Meg Ryan. Cutler leased six paintings to decorate Bening’s character’s office and home.

It’s not just the paintings or sculptures that set decorators lease, but prints, too. For instance, when “The Company Men’’ filmed in Boston last spring, Lanoue enlarged nine photographs of ship hulls’ to decorate the walls of the fictional shipbuilding headquarter offices featured in the movie.

After that, more calls started coming in for artwork and Lanoue decided to formally launch her rental company this year. Lanoue would not say how much she charges to rent out the artwork but the business has added 10 percent to her gallery’s overall revenue.

People are “surprised that we have these contemporary resources that [film companies] are used to seeing in Los Angeles and New York,’’ said Susan Lanoue, who opened her gallery in 2004.

And set directors aren’t just renting art, but buying it, too. Film representatives for “Shutter Island,’’ which follows a US marshal assigned to investigate the disappearance of a patient from a Boston mental hospital in 1954, have used art from The Scrapbook, a shop owned by Vincent and Barbara Caravella. For that movie, the couple sold 30 framed prints, between $85 to $185 each. The prints featured natural landscapes, monkeys, and botanicals.

“They help create a mood for the actor,’’ said Vincent Caravella, who said the prints were used to decorate characters’ offices in the movie filmed last summer.

Click here to see a slideshow of art, from local galleries, used in movies.

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MOVIEPHONE: Trailer for THE BOX starring Cameron Diaz – opens 11/5/09

Trailer for THE BOX, made in Massachusetts in 2008, and opening nationwide on November 5, 2009.

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SLIDESHOW: Are the tax credits working?

The following slideshow describes the local economic impact of the film tax credit program from 2006 to 2009:

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Cameron Diaz joins 9/11 remembrance at Mattapan school

Cameron Diaz in Mattapan
Cameron Diaz helps set up a fence today, on the nation’s first National Day of Service and Remembrance. Diaz, along with members of the Celtics, City Year and Harvard Pilgrim Health, volunteered at the Young Achievers Pilot School in Mattapan. Photo by Mark Garfinkel

By Inside Track
Boston Herald
September 11, 2009

Hollywood honey Cameron Diaz surprised Boston Celtics [team stats] J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker this morning when she turned up to get her hands dirty at the team’s beautifying project at the Young Achievers Pilot School in Mattapan.

Diaz, who begins filming “The Untitled Wichita Project” with Tom Cruise next week in Worcester, helped to dig new flower beds at the school to mark the National Day of Service and Remembrance, a nation-wide observance for the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“She wasn’t messing around,” said Celtics spokesguy Christian Megliola, adding that the actress is a volunteer with a City Year-type organization in Los Angeles. “She dug right in. And she was very gracious.”

The event was a joint project between City Year, the Celtics and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Article URL:

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South Shore region turning into Hollywood hotbed

By Vicki-Ann Downing
Brockton Enterprise
September 5, 2009

BRIDGEWATER — Even Ethan Hunt, the secret agent played by Tom Cruise in the “Mission: Impossible” movie series, might find it a challenge to solve the financial woes facing the town of Bridgewater these days.

But when the Hollywood actor steps onto a cornfield off Curve Street later this month to begin filming a new movie, “Wichita,” with co-star Cameron Diaz, a lot of people are going to feel good anyway.

Having famous people come to town is fun, as Taunton residents discovered last year when Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley and Martin Scorcese filmed “Shutter Island,” originally titled “Ashecliffe,” at Whittenton Mills. That movie is due out in February.

And it’s good for business, too, according to the state Department of Revenue. Attracted by a tax credit of 25 percent on qualifying expenses and an exemption from the state sales tax, movie companies have been coming to the state in increasing numbers since 2006.

It’s paying off, according to the DOR, which estimates that 13 movie projects filmed in 2008 resulted in $452 million in direct spending in Massachusetts — and not just in Boston, either.
“One of the best things, and perhaps unexpected things, that happened as a result of the film business boom, since the governor and the Legislature lifted the cap on the tax credit back in 2007, has been the migration of business outside greater Boston,” said Nick Paleologos, executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office.

“When you look around and ask yourself, ‘Where is Hollywood spending its money,’ it’s Worcester, Gloucester, Woburn, Taunton, Medfield, Hull. It’s really been great,” said Paleologos. Paleologos said filmmakers who originally came to Boston to make their movies were “tripping over themselves” in the city’s neighborhoods, so they began looking around and discovering “film-friendly communities” outside Boston.

“They find labor, materials, infrastructure,” said Paleologos. “If they can get their creative needs met, they love coming to Massachusetts.”

Two proposals for sound stages that would further serve the movie industry are moving through the local permitting process south of Boston. Plymouth Rock Studios in Plymouth would be a $282 million production complex with 14 sound stages, two back lots and a pair of production buildings. It would feature a performing arts school, vocational classrooms, cultural and visitors centers and a screening theater.

International Studio Corp. would be located on 30 acres of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station. The $147-million, 600,000-square-foot motion picture complex would be able to produce television shows and video games as well as movies. “If they get up and running, it will generate more movies and TV series,” said Paleologos. “We don’t have state-of-the-art sound stages in Massachusetts. If one or two are built, we’ll go from a seasonal business to a year-round business, and be able to produce the kinds of movies that require these kinds of facilities — those with computer-animated special effects.”

Meanwhile, the Bridgewater movie, tentatively titled “Wichita,” will be “the biggest we’ve ever had by whatever means you measure,” said Paleologos. “The amount of money they will be spending in the state is very large, as you would expect in a Tom Cruise movie,” Paleologos said. “It’s going to be a big, challenging film for us to host with lots of big action scenes.”
The movie is described as “an action-oriented romantic comedy.”

Diaz will play an “upbeat Midwestern woman” who goes on a blind date with Cruise, a federal agent. She is pulled into “a violent world journey to protect a powerful battery that holds the key to an infinite power source,” according to a description on the movie’s Web site.

The Boeing 727 carrying Cruise and Diaz will seem to crash into the 263-acre Bridgewater field, though it is actually arriving in three separate pieces next Friday. Filming is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sept. 24 and 25. Fireworks will simulate the plane crash.

Other parts of the movie — chase scenes, cars overturning — will be shot elsewhere, including Woburn and Boston. “Congratulations. We’re happier than heck that it’s happening there for you guys,” said Paleologos of Bridgewater.

Vicki-Ann Downing can be reached at

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Former resident to shoot film inside Next Page Cafe

Staff reports
GateHouse News Service
September 4, 2009

Weymouth – It will be lights, camera, and action in The Next Page when an independent filmmaker shoots “Minutes to Live, The Hitman,” inside the cafe on Saturday, Sept. 12. The movie theme centers on several groups of people who discover the end of the world is coming while meeting in common settings like a bar or restaurant.

“The film is a bunch of little stories that is occurring (simultaneously) in different parts of the country,” said film producer Billy Jacks, a former Weymouth resident, and Hingham High School special education teacher. “They all find out that the world will end.”

The script does not say how the world ends. “We leave that up to the imagination of the viewer,” Jacks said. The scenes to be filmed inside The Next Page Cafe features a hitman who enters The Next Page to carry out a murder contract on a person and two women who ponder their fate upon learning the end of the world is near.

“The hitman will walk into the bar,” Jacks said. “He confronts the person who says, ‘why are you going to kill me? The world is going to come to an end.’ But the hitman says, ‘a contract is a contract. Business is business.’”

The would-be victim tries to reason with the hired killer to let him live without success while having a drink that is served by Ed Page, owner of The Next Page. “He asked me to be in it,” Page said of his bartender role.

He said it is exciting to have a movie filmed at The Next Page. “We have put in about $400,000 in renovations here,” Page said. “We have gone from being a neighborhood bar to being a café that attracts families.” He said the movie would be an opportunity to advertise The Next Page which was voted the number one blues club in New England by The Blues Audience newsletter.

“I thought it would be nice to make a film back where my roots are,” Jacks said. “It will be a tribute to Ed’s late dad. The elder Page died in 1992.

“I have a lot of good memories there,” Jacks said.

Jacks previously patronized The Next Page when it was called Jimbos Café. It is located on Broad Street in Central Square. Movie production will begin at 8 a.m. and continue throughout the morning until noon on Saturday.

Jacks said most of the people taking part in the filming are professional actors. “We will have a few extras on the set,” he said. Jacks’s interest in movie making developed while he worked as an extra in various films produced in the Boston area.

“I’ve been in 22 films in 19 months,” Jacks said. “I ‘m now getting to write and direct movies. It’s amazing how the movie industry is growing in Boston.”

He said Boston is especially appealing for movie-makers because of the city’s culture. This aspect is encouraging International Studios Group, a California firm to break ground for 12 motion picture studios at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station by the end of 2009.

The soundstages will be built on 212,000 square feet of land at the base. International Studios Group plans to construct a restaurant, a specialty store and have studio-lot streets with a colonial flavor that reflects historical sections of Boston at the site.

State Rep. Ronald Mariano, D- Quincy is proposing a 20 percent manufacturing tax credit for movie studios to construct soundstages in Massachusetts. The tax benefit would exempt motion picture firms like ISG from paying $20 million in state taxes over a two-year period and would be a credit against future state taxes. The bill has not come for a vote by the House to date.

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WCVB-TV 5: Cruise, Diaz Shooting Spy Flick In Mass. – Sept 09

Action Comedy Will Film At Several Bay State Locations.
Click here to see video story.

WCVB-TV Channel 5
September 3, 2009

BOSTON — Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz and other Hollywood names are heading to Massachusetts for two and a half weeks of filming for an upcoming untitled blockbuster.

Filming begins Sept. 15 at Worcester Regional Airport, but crews are already preparing two locations, the airport and a field in Bridgewater, for their roles in the movie.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported the filmmakers chose Worcester Airport because it is sparsely used, making it easier for crews to set up the scenes and work with security. Since Sept. 11, 2001, filming movies in airports has become difficult because of tight federal regulations, set workers said. Worcester Airport was deemed the perfect spot because construction will be a breeze, and extras can be brought in to make it look like a bustling airport, said Nick Paleologos, executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office.

The action comedy, with the working title “Untitled Wichita Project,” is about a secret agent, Cruise, who periodically runs into the same young single woman, Diaz, said 20th Century Fox.
Once shooting wraps in Worcester, the film shifts locations to Bridgewater. There, on a 263-acre corn field owned by Cumberland Farms, the crews will film scenes of a plane crash and its aftermath, said Hyunsoon Moon, assistant location manager for 20th Century Fox.

The Brockton Enterprise said the film company is already flattening out the field so that the plane can be brought in and set up for filming. The plane’s fuselage is fairly large, nearly 16 feet wide, and will bring safety and logistics concerns, said Moon. 20th Century Fox met with Bridgewater selectmen and public safety officials Tuesday and Thursday to work out a plan, said The Enterprise.

The priority was to watch out for the safety of crew workers and neighbors, but also to handle traffic and crowd control, said Bridgewater Fire Chief George Rogers, Jr. Shooting in Bridgewater will take place on Sept. 24 & 25 from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. Neighbors were advised by the film company that pyrotechnics will be used to simulate a plane crash. Moon said the field is far enough away from houses that it shouldn’t disturb neighbors much.

Flyers will be distributed to area houses listing schedules and contact information should any problems occur, Moon said. Rogers said the production company is in the process of getting all the proper permits, and he has checked with other communities for references from previous projects.

Twentieth Century Fox estimated that shooting in Bridgewater would be done by Oct. 9. The company also said they would reimburse the town for all public safety personnel costs as well as other costs that were a direct result of filming. The town itself won’t get any direct compensation from the production company, but the town is expected to get a bump for local businesses as a result of the influx of workers, actors and spectators, said selectmen.

Construction necessary for the film in both towns will provide 180 to 230 jobs, many of them being filled by workers inside New England, said crew workers.

The movie will shoot in other Massachusetts towns, including Chelsea and Woburn, in addition to Worcester and Bridgewater. Boston, one of the film’s prominent settings, will also be used as a filming location.

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