Movie close-up for Stonington area starts next week

Stonington - Filming on "Great Hope Springs," the movie starring Academy Award winners Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, will begin next Wednesday in the borough and continue through Oct. 7, according to the film's publicist.

Eric Myers said Wednesday that while Streep and Jones will be filming at locations here, co-star Steve Carell will not be because his parts in the movie have been completed.

The borough will stand in for a fictional town in Maine where a couple, Streep and Jones, visit on the advice of their marriage counselor, Carell.

First Selectman Ed Haberek, who met with the movie's location manager this week, said filming is set to begin at a home on Church Street. Scenes will also be shot at the Econolodge in Mystic, the Inn at Stonington, various borough restaurants and shops and along Water Street.

The movie is slated for a December 2012 release.

As for people who would like to glimpse Streep and Jones and watch the filming, Myers said crowd control will be in place. People will be kept far enough back so they do not interfere with the shooting, much of which will be indoors. A number of residents have been hired as extras.

Borough Warden Paul Burgess said movie representatives and local officials do not want to publicize the exact locations and times of filming because it could "become difficult to control things from a spectator and security standpoint."

This week, movie workers are in the borough preparing the locations that will be used. At the request of movie officials, Burgess said the borough has also made adjustments such as removing or turning around street signs that would interfere with filming. In addition, the normal one-way southbound traffic on Water Street will be switched to northbound. "It's all coming together. It should be interesting," he said.

Police will not only be busy with crowd control, but they will have to assist the large number of equipment trucks, including some 80-foot tractor-trailers, get down to the Town Dock where they will stay during the filming.

Burgess said Wednesday that opinions vary on the film's economic impact on the borough.

"Some business may have a positive impact while some may have a slight negative impact if the filming is near them, but the movie folks have been coordinating with them to mitigate any problems," he said.

The plot of "Great Hope Springs" revolves around a middle-aged couple, played by Jones and Streep, who attend an intense counseling weekend to determine the fate of their 30-year-old marriage. Carell plays the relationship guru who counsels them. According to Variety, Ben Rappaport, the star of the NBC sitcom "Outsourced," plays the son of Streep and Jones.

The Sony Pictures film is being directed by David Frankel of "The Devil Wears Prada." Portions of "Mystic Pizza" were filmed in the borough in 1988, including the actual pizza shop scenes.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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