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Stonington getting ready for its close-up

By Joe Wojtas

Publication: The Day

Published July 12. 2011 4:00AM   Updated July 12. 2011 3:09PM
Movie starring Streep may be filmed in town

Stonington - Sites in the town and borough are strongly being considered as locations for the upcoming filming of a $30 million movie starring Academy Award winners Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep along with Steve Carell.

The plot of "Great Hope Springs" centers around a middle-aged couple, Jones and Streep, who attend an intense counseling weekend to decide the fate of their 30-year-old marriage. Carell plays the relationship guru who counsels them. The Sony Pictures film, which is slated for a late 2012 release, is being directed by David Frankel of "The Devil Wears Prada."

Movie representatives have been touring the town and meeting with First Selectman Ed Haberek and others since late May.

Another meeting is slated for later this week or early next week as the production company tries to work out details with Haberek and Police Chief J. Darren Stewart.

In addition, movie representatives have submitted an application to borough officials to use village streets for filming. Borough Warden Paul Burgess said a movie official is expected to outline the plans to the borough's Board of Warden and Burgesses when it meets July 18. The board will then review the application and decide whether to approve it.

Six locations in the borough, including restaurants and homes, are under consideration for filming as well as two hotels in town.

"I think it should be an interesting and positive thing," Burgess said Monday. "But we're going to learn more about it."

A person connected with the movie confirmed Monday that the locations are under consideration but declined to say any more until an official decision is made early next month. Filming is tentatively scheduled to begin in the fall.

"It's a great spot. It's got a wonderful look," the person said, adding that the movie's director and other representatives will be making trips to the town in the coming few weeks.

Haberek said Monday the movie is a great opportunity to increase the town's exposure, especially during the slower fall tourist season. He said local businesses, restaurants and hotels would appreciate the extra revenue.

"It's exciting to be considered for a movie like this," he said.

While small films, television shows and commercials are occasionally filmed here, a major motion picture has not been shot here since "Amistad" in 1997. That movie, which was directed by Steven Spielberg, featured Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey and Anthony Hopkins.

In 1988, much of the Julia Roberts film "Mystic Pizza" was filmed in Stonington.

As a member of the police department, Stewart provided crowd and traffic control during the filmings of "Mystic Pizza" and "Amistad." Though he has not yet met with movie officials, the department's role will likely include blocking off streets for filming and controlling any crowds that come to watch, Stewart said.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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