With stars in their eyes, the Greenwich Board of Selectmen gave the green light for a movie shoot in the Chickahominy section of Greenwich next month at the popular neighborhood hangout, the Two Door Restaurant on Hamilton Avenue.
Before hearing the presentation by film location manager Michael Hartel, who's worked for three seasons as the location scout for the popular television series 'The Big C', which is shot in Greenwich and Stamford, the selectmen asked if they could get the autographs and even meet stars Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins ("Bull Durham, "Shawshank Redemption," "Mystic River") rapper Mos Def who appeared in the remake "The Italian Job," and Isla Fischer ("The Wedding Crashers" and "Confessions of a Shopacholic").
The quartet will be filming scenes movie set in the 1970s Detroit, based on the Elmore Leonard novel 'The Switch,' according to Michael Hartel, location manager. Specifically, a bar fight that spills out of the Two Door, onto Hamilton Avenue where a character will be hit by a 1970s era car, Hartel told the selectmen.
According to elmoreleonard.com, the plot involves ""Ordell Robbie and Louis Gara (who) hit it off in prison, where they were both doing time for grand theft auto. Now that they're out, they're joining forces for one big score." Mos Def is cast as Ordell and John Hawkes is cast as Louis, according to imbd.com. "They’re going to snatch the wife of a Detroit developer and collect some easy ransom money. They don’t figure on a bum of a husband who has a secret mistress and no desire to get his wife back," according to Leonard's website.
Specifically, the selectmen approved periodic closings of Hamilton Avenue outside the Two Door on Feb. 11—that's one of the 25 days the actors and crews will be shooting the movie in Greenwich and Stamford, Hartel said. The approval Thursday also includes use of the Hamilton Avenue School property next door to the restaurant for equipment and set up, between 6:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. that day. While the shoot will occur during the Greenwich Public Schools' winter recess, officials said, there may be opportunities for locals to meet up—or, at least see—the stars, Hartel said.
There are several private locations in both municipalities that will be used to recreate scenes of Detroit and a Bahamas vacation home, according to Hartel. He said there is a modern design home on Round Hill Road that will be transformed into a Bahamas vacation home using computer-generated Bahamas beach scenes superimposed as the background to the home.
Stamford and Greenwich both offer "country club, tree-lined streets and a downtown business district."
Scenes also will be shot at the Fairview Country Club on King Street, in the northwest corner of Greenwich. Hartel said, "there are gritty areas of Detroit that will be shot in Stamford. There are still a few gritty neighborhoods in Stamford." He added that some scenes also will be shot in a home in the waterfront neighborhood of Shippan.
"It's set in the '70s and we found a home that was three days away from renovating the kitchen from the 1970s....You find great houses...center hall Colonials with granite kitchens and modern appliances," Hartel explained. He expects the crews to shoot about 5 days in Stamford.
Hartel said the entire Chickahominy neighborhood will be transformed into a Detroit 1970s scene right down to storefronts, signs, automobiles and "people in bellbottoms." He also said the production will reimburse local businesses for income lost during the shoot.
Aniston, the blonde-haired actress who made her name with the hit television series 'Friends,' and was in the hit 2008 film "Marley & Me," is expected to stay at a Greenwich hotel along with the rest of the cast, Hartel said. "Her fiance (actor Justin Theroux) is based in New York and they didn't want to be far from New York," Hartel also said.
Hartel described the indie movie as a 'tier 1 film" with a budget of $5 to $15 million that is being produced by Switch Productions "which has Greenwich residents who are investors." He said the film should be ready this coming fall for screenings at film festivals at Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca and Cannes. It is being directed by Dan Schechter ("The Big, Bad Swim"), who also wrote the screenplay adaption, Hartel said.